A-1 Headline is a good, old fashioned newspaper movie. There’s the conflicted editor, the smarter than he gets credit for photographer, the amusing guys around the office. Even the newspaper office looks like a good movie newspaper office: rows of desks, yellowing fluorescents, and antiquated computers. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t have a particularly interesting mystery. The actual investigation, once underway, is the least compelling part of the film, but A-1 still manages to be compelling. However, the characters are compelling. The story is not engaging at all. A handful of important questions go unanswered and I could tell early on there’d be no satisfactory answers to them. It’s just constructed wrong. What starts as a workplace conspiracy mystery ends as a nice little newspaper film, with a little romance no less.
Besides that lack of an engaging plot, there’s little wrong with A-1 (except a lot of the music, which sounds like something from a 1980s commercial). It’s funny, the character relationships develop in interesting ways… It’s a little short in some parts, but overall it’s a fine length since that lack of engagement would get tiring. The acting is particularly good, especially Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, who gives a deep performance. A-1’s borderline cutesy in many ways (mostly because the lead character, Angelica Lee, is a fashion reporter and the introduction to the character requires it) and the film has a fanciful air to it, which the intrusive music doesn’t help, but Wong really brings something to it. It’s not quite his film, but he’s the whole reason to watch it. The rest of the cast is good, with Lee turning in a really nice performance, even when she stops being the center of the film.
Nice is an odd adjective for A-1, but it seems to fit. While the film doesn’t work out well–it’s still all right, but doesn’t decide its thesis until… I don’t know, the last scene–it’s well-made and full of characters who are worth spending a boring ninety-five minutes watching.
Directed and written by Gordon Chan and Chung Kai-cheong; director of photography, Nau Yee-shun; edited by Cheung Ka-fai; music by Johnny Njo; produced by Allan Fung; released by Panorama Distribution Co.
Starring Anthony Wong (Fei), Angelica Lee (Ling), Edison Chen (Kei), Tony Leung Ka-fai (Tsang Tat-si), Eric Kot (Ma) and Lam Ka-tung (Tong).