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October 19th, 2000 Issue #20

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

And I Hate You So
(2000; Golden Harvest/ United Filmmakers Organization / Sil-Metropole Organisation): 5/10

Cover art courtesy Universe.
Siu chun chun

Xiao qing qing

Little Kisses

Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing. Images courtesy Universe.

Early on in what turns out to be an exceedingly bad day, newspaper columnist Luna Ng (Kelly Chan Wai-lam) has her power turned off by the electric company and then knocks over and breaks her coffee cup in a restaurant. These mishaps are just a taste of what is to come, however. While browsing in an antiques shop, Luna runs across an exceedingly rare album she gave her first boyfriend. She knows that this is the very same record because her declaration of love is scrawled on the cover and, understandably, Luna wants to get this embarrassing remnant of her past out of circulation. The store owner (Teresa Mo Shun-kwan, in her first film role since retiring in 1994) has already promised the album to Cheung Yung (Aaron Kwok Fu-shing), the smooth host of the Vinyl Record Courier radio show and, when Luna calls him and pleads her case, he refuses to let her have it. If that were not infuriating enough, Yung proceeds to mention the incident on his program that evening, in order that Luna will feel "The Beauty of Regret." She retaliates by slagging Yung in her column ("Luna Talks," a name that can also be pronounced in Cantonese as "Menstrual Cycle") the next day and tosses a glass of red wine in his face at a party that evening. Deciding that getting to know the enemy will provide the best plan of attack, the DJ pours through Luna's past columns and starts reading them on the air as ammunition against her. His ratings soar, prompting Yung's boss to insist that she be invited as a guest on the show. Things get predictably ugly during the broadcast and, when a regulatory committee files a complaint against the station as a result, Yung quits. Luna, meanwhile, fails miserably as the host of an internet chat room and her writing even starts to suffer. Of course, there is only one inevitable outcome for two people who are so unhappy (and it's not suicide).

Jessica Suen Huen. Image courtesy Universe.

Just about everything is a foregone conclusion in pictures of this sort, so how much they entertain depends almost entirely on the performers and the presentation. AND I HATE YOU SO boasts a quality cast, with Chan fine in the sort of blustery part she has tended to get as of late. Kwok makes less of an impression in a largely one-dimensional role but Jessica Suen Huen (as the unappreciated female friend who yearns to be more than friends) and actor/composer Mark Lui Chung-tak (as the obnoxious soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend) come across, as do Julian Cheung Chi-lam and Cheung Tat-ming in smaller roles. In addition to the main story, there is also a subplot (in which Teresa Mo's lonely character buys a really ugly dog and falls in love with the beast's original master, played by Eric Tsang Chi-wai) which is almost entirely superfluous and never amounts to much. The two make an endearingly ornery couple, worthy of their own TVB miniseries, but these scenes cannot help but play like an afterthought.

Eric Tsang Chi-Wai and Teresa Mo Sun-Kwun. Image courtesy Universe.

Cinematographer Peter Pau and celebrated art director-turned-director Yee Chung-man (aka Hai Chung-man) give the film a very pleasant look, offering up a Hong Kong that is conspicuously clean and uncluttered, save for the paper-strewn mess in Luna's apartment (ever met a writer who was capable of tidying anything up?). While AND I HATE YOU SO manages to induce several smiles along the way, it is plagued by some truly tired devices, from the "hit single montage" to an all-too-familiar climax (so many HK romances would end entirely differently if the airport wasn't such a distant cab ride away!), making the long-term commitment of purchase far less desirable than a guilt-free one night rental.

Kelly Chan Wai-Lam and Julian Cheung Chi-Lam. Image courtesy Universe.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5478
Dolby Digital Stereo (5.1)
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
Optional subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
8 chapters illustrated in the menu with clips
Letterboxed (1.76:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category IIA
96 minutes

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

Universe has given AND I HATE YOU SO a quality presentation, which adds to its appeal. Colors and contrasts are not quite as sharp as they could be but the transfer looks fine overall and the digital compression is flawless (Mei Ah take note). The end credits indicate that the film was mixed in standard Dolby Stereo, not Dolby Digital, which probably explains the distracting reverb now present at times on the Cantonese 5.1 track; the Mandarin version is better in that respect but lacks the sync sound immediacy of the Cantonese version. Extras include a 3 minute glimpse of the movie's premiere (no subtitles), the theatrical trailer, trailers for WHEN I FALL IN LOVE...WITH BOTH, TOKYO RAIDERS, and DOUBLE TAP, and bilingual Star Files for Aaron Kwok, Kelly Chan, Teresa Mo, and Eric Tsang.

Kelly Chen. Image courtesy Universe.

Copyright © John Charles 2000. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review