3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Cheung Man Yuk Becomes Yun Ling Yuk.,
This review is from: Centre Stage (DVD)
I remember watching this film at the cinema more than ten years ago, and I was sobbing by the end of the film, because I was so moved by the life of Yun Ling Yuk, and the mesmerizing performance from Maggie(Cheung Man Yuk). This is no doubt Maggie's most memorable role of her career, despite the fact that she's better known for other films such as In The Mood For Love and Hero. This is the only film that allowed her to deliver "her all" as far as showing her range, and won her the Berlin Best Actress and numerous other awards in Asia! It's the ultimate art house biopic event that is absolutely inspirational, visually stunning, and emotionally impacting!
This biopic chronicles the life and suicide of China's first legendary silent film diva in the 1930's. Yun Link Yuk had starred in 29 films since the age of 16, and committed suicide at the age of 25 on international women's day(3-8-1935). She was a provocative public figure, because she played daring roles in films, and her forbidden love affair with a still married rich man gave her bad reputation. She broke the rules of society and was on a league of her own, which ultimately made her a victim of condemnation from the public and media. Even though she was the most popular star of her time, her life had become unbearable as as result of the torment she had to endured. She decided to leave her old mother and adopted daughter behind when she couldn't take it anymore, and overdosed on pills.
Carina Lau played Lily Lai, a rising star who worked with Yuk in a film about the Japanese intrusion, and they played mother and daughter. Carina nailed the reenactment of a scene from the original's film's footage perfectly. In the beginning, there was a few interviews on the now elderly Lily, Carina, and Maggie. Maggie said that Yun Ling Yuk died at the top of her career, and remained as the most glorious and striking star, and that she can not compare herself to her. As for Carina, she jokingly said,"I wouldn't mind if by the time I am 70, I will be remembered on the top 100 list!" Lily mentioned about the day of the burial, and that Little Yuk(Yuk's adopted daughter) asked her why she wasn't crying....
Tony Leung Kar Fai(The Lover) also costarred as the "Pink Director" who cast Yuk in a provocative film, and he was secretly in love with her. Ching Hai is brilliant as the wealthy womanizer whom Yuk fell in love with, and he financially helped her get rid of her money greedy gambling addicted boyfriend.
There is numerous reenactments of the some of Yun Ling Yuk's best works. The one scene when Maggied was hustled by a demented man in a film about a prostitute was amazing. The way she walked, smoked her cigarette as she stared at him totally matched the original film's footage. Then there is the scene when she had to do a dying scene, and she lost control of herself, and kept on crying under the blankets when the scene was finished.
The art direction and soundtrack is fabulous. I really enjoyed the ballroom dancing scene. Maggied Cheung had to shave her eye brows so that she could draw her brows like that era's, and her kapo dresses were so gorgeous! The theme song "Burial of the Heart" heard at the closing credit is very sad and beautiful. I enjoyed this film more than other Stanley Kwan movies include Lan Yu and Red Rose and White Rose.