A Hearty Response


AKA: A Heavy Response

Year of release: 1986

Genre: drama

Director: Norman Law

Action directors: Luk Chuen, Benz Kong, Tony Leung Siu-Hung

Producer: Alan Tang

Writer: Lai Man-Cheuk

Cinematography: Sung Gwong-Wa

Editor: Poon Hung

Music: Danny Chung, Sherman Chow

Stars: Chow Yun-Fat, Joey Wong, Lui Fong, Paul Chun Pui, Poon Lai-Yin, Lee Heung-Kam, Shum Wai, Kent Cheng

Rated II for language and violence

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In one of the eleven films he starred in during 1986, Chow Yun-Fat plays Bon, a cop who accidentally injures Sun (Joey Wong) while pursuing a suspect. Sun is an illegal immigrant, so she fakes amnesia to get out of being arrested. Wanting to avoid a lawsuit, Bon starts taking care of Sun, which angers his girlfriend (Poon Lai-Yin) but delights his mom (Lee Heung-Kam). After a rocky start, Bon and Sun begin to develop feelings for each other, but things take a turn for the worse when the "snakehead" (Shum Wai) who smuggled Sun into Hong Kong makes an appearance.

Under the guise of what seems to be a straightforward drama, A Hearty Response throws in a lot of dopey comedy and very violent action. The better Hong Kong directors know how to mix up any number of genres and still produce coherent and exciting movies. Norman Law is not one of those directors. There is a lack of any real flow to the proceedings. When matters are played out normally, the film actually works quite well, especially as Chow Yun-Fat and Joey Wong have good chemistry with each other.

However, for any good A Hearty Response puts forth during the running time, there seems to be an equal amount of poor cinematic output. In particular, the attempts at comedy are just not funny at all, and in fact quite insulting and repellant at times. Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm not a prude and can enjoy a raunchy Category III picture. But A Hearty Response just doesn't seem like the sort of movie that really needed scenes that feature stuff like a little kid urinating into someone's open mouth.

And poor Joey Wong. She must have pissed off Norman Law, because her character is treated like absolute crap. Again, I'm not adverse to the rough stuff, but did we really need to see three rape scenes (one to "completion") with her? The sexual violence, and the casual tone in which it is dished out, is what ultimately really undermines A Hearty Response. It's just pure vulgarity done for titillation's sake. That's a shame, because when A Hearty Response is on target, it really works. Sadly, there are too many misfires present to keep this movie from getting more than a mild recommendation.