And then he . . .
What I like is the way some stories have a small interest and then build to something great and then that spins into another story you weren't expecting which leads to something even greater.
Its what guys like Andrew Sarris see in the films of Charlie Chaplin and Don Seigal, not just the economy of their story telling but the way small things follow on and on to one huge shattering conclusion, a plastic epiphany.
Its the thing, I told you that story so I could tell you this!
For now I'm going to relate the story of Andy Lau, a Hong Kong actor.
Lau made a Korean Film titled “In The Mood For Love”. It was a monster hit, everywhere in the world but North America. Lau was the first Asian actor to win the Best Acting prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
He was so popular he had romantic leading roles in 3 very successful French films. He started to creep into some of those sexiest man in the world lists.
Hollywood was sniffing. It looked like he was on the verge of superstardom.
Interesting story so far. Kid from the streets struggles and gets rich with only some talent and some good looks.
Then Lau pulled the switch that makes your jaw drop.
Instead of laying back and reaping the rewards he returned to Hong Kong, this was after the British had left and China was reclaiming its own. he came back and produced a movie he wanted to make.
The film was “Running On Karma”. Lau plays a Bhuddist monk who has left the temple to work as a male stripper . . . I can see guys throwing money at Lau just because of the millions of women who would love to see him naked.
That's not what the movies about. Westerners have a pretty vague concept of Karma. I guess its similar to a Shinto priest trying to grasp the Holy Trinity or the Immaculate Conception.
Now in this film - the male stripper part - this had to horrify the investors: lau does not actually appear nude. He wears a prosthetic body that makes him look like Lou Ferrigno in his prime. Its odd and at first off putting. Its clearly expensive and effective if it were being worn by someone who was not an international star it would deceive the eye and the mind.
Back to the story - Lau, the characters name is Big, is working at this club which is raided just as he exposes himself. He's busted for obscenity by a female cop. He claims entrapment as she was the one screaming loudest for him to show the goods.
While he's being hauled away he touches the lady cop and this is when we discover that he is a priest and we discover that he left the temple because he has a gift: He can see a person's karma.
This is hard to grasp for me. I learned about karma because of the John Lennon song, “Instant Karma”. That makes me far from an expert or anything at all.
When Big touches the cop he sees those moments in her past life, the actions and decisions that have bought her to this moment in her current life and also those moments in her current future and her future lives.
Asian reviewers seemed to have no problem with this but Western reviewers were as perplexed as I was.
Clearly this is not the way to make an international smash hit as Lau had proven himself capable of doing.
There is a set up side bar, a serial killer is terrifying Hong Kong. Big, after seeing this deep into someone's soul has no choice but to help her in her karmic meeting.
This provides some decent action scenes but the killer is caught quickly. When Big touches the killer he senses that the killers karma and the cops are not at all intertwined.
This is the wrong serial killer.
The plot gets complicated, interestingly so, and is still full of lush surprises and attractive photography.
There's another serial killer who has been hiding out in the mountains near Big's old monastery. The ambitious cop sees this as a chance to both get Big to respond to her advances and as a chance to advance her career.
With Big as a guide they set off.
Big is blasted by karmic influences when he enters the mountains to the point of not being able to tell if the murder of the female cop is past present or future.
In these sometimes beautiful sometimes clumsy montages it is soon apparent why he HAD to leave the monastery but not the faith. There are also subtle clues as to his choice of life in the real world where he is trying to change his own karmic fortune.
But the cop is dead. Really, brutally dead.
Big buries her. His sorrow is partially at his own inability to change karma.
He begins to hunt down the killer, only part of his motive being love for the cop. It is a four year pain filled hunt.
When he finally does catch the lunatic he finds that the killer is more lunatic than monster, lost and frightened from his years wandering the mountains alone.
It is a charitable act for Big to take him down the mountain and surrender him to the authorities.
And when they finally do reach the end of their trip - this is where the film says, “I had to tell you all of that so you would understand this.”
After the years wandering and hunting Big has lost his musculature. He is now just thin. His hair has fallen out, so he is as bald as a monk.
When he nears the town he is greeted with a hero's reception for capturing the mad killer. He passes through it and tenderly hands over the lunatic.
He walks through the crowd ignoring everything and they seem to take the hint and ignore him in their quest to get a better view of the notorious murderer.
Big stops and borrows a cigarette, lights it and walks off.
And this is the film he chose to make instead of “Lethal Weapon 6” or whatever other high concept project he was offered.
I thought the ending was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen. So did most of the Asian audience.
Now I put you through all of that so you might understand this:
I've been ill. Bad ill, but not fatally ill.
There's nothing positive to report except I'm still alive. The list keeps growing and I feel threatened by the fact that I have no more freedom. I have to get to a pharmacy at least once a month. Which doesn't sound so bad but feels terrible.
There's more doctors coming up.
I missed a day of work and that bothers me the most.
My little puppy, she makes me smile all the time.