Continuation of Hong Kong melodrama, THE BLUE AND THE BLACK
One definitely needs to have seen THE BLUE AND THE BLACK PART 1 (1966, aka LAN YU HEI, also reviewed on this site) before tackling PART 2. Wong Lam's original novel, "The Blue and the Black," was evidently a long one and was filmed by Hong Kong's Shaw Bros. studio in two 2-hour parts, but, given that all the dramatic highlights are in Part 1 and Part 2 glosses over ten years of epic events, one wonders, if one hasn't read the book, whether justice was ultimately done to the story. Part 1 was marked by an unrelenting emotional intensity and was gripping throughout its 117 minutes as it told the story of a love thwarted by family considerations amidst the turbulence of the Japanese occupation of China in the 1930s. The film was carried by the stirring performance of Linda Lin Dai, movie star extraordinaire of Hong Kong cinema who committed suicide in 1964, two years before the BLUE AND BLACK films were released.
Part 2 suffers from a distinct lack of Linda Lin Dai, who apparently died before her work in the film was completed. In the role of Tang Qi, the central character of Part 1, she has only a handful of scenes here. Although her presence supposedly continues to be felt by the principal characters, it isn't manifested strongly enough. Another female character, Zheng Meizhuang, emerges to win the heart of the male lead and basically dominates the film. The new actress, Pat Ting Hung, is superb (she'd played Lin Dai's crafty maid in the historical drama, THE LAST WOMAN OF SHANG), but her character is not the most sympathetic. She's the spoiled, petulant daughter of a warlord and she determines to make Xinya (Kwan Shen), Tang Qi's ex-fiancé, her own simply because he's the most attractive, accomplished and studious (hence, inaccessible) male on the campus where they both study. He represents an irresistible challenge to her. In the background, such major epochal events as World War II and the Communist Revolution zip by, with little seeming impact on our protagonists. At one point, everyone moves to Taiwan, presumably to flee the Communists, although this is never stated. Granted, the filmmakers assume the intended audience knows all the background data, but the complete omission of Mao and his Red Army is comparable to how GONE WITH THE WIND would play if it never mentioned the Yankees or the Carpetbaggers. (At least the Japanese are alluded to, however, in the WWII scenes.)
It's still very watchable and entertaining, with wonderful performers, great cinematography, color and set design, and authentic old-fashioned cinematic style. I do recommend it if you've seen Part 1, but it's nowhere near as compelling.
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