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November 29th, 2000 Issue #30

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.

Love Paradox
(2000; Cameron Entertainment / Eunice and Tonia Entertainment Co. / 5/10

Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.
Oi ching man kam dei dai

Ai qing min gan di dai

Love's Sensitive Spots

Grace Yip Pui-man and Andrew Lin Hoi. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Dancer Yip Sau-wan (Grace Yip Pui-man) is having no luck at auditions but it looks like she has finally managed to convince boyfriend Denver to walk down the aisle with her. However, when he finds out that she has been reading his e-mail from old girlfriend Michelle Fong and suspects them of having "monkey affairs," Denver declares that the wedding is off and disappears. Hopelessly depressed and angry, Sau-wan fires off an e-mail to Michelle and challenges her to "a duel." The Michelle who shows up is actually Michel (Andrew Lin Hoi), Denver's old lover from Montreal, an aspect of his past that he never revealed to Sau-wan. Her friend, ballerina Fong-fong (Annie Wu Chen-chun), would love to help cheer Sau-wan up but she's having troubles of her own with boyfriend Chai Yan-fai (Roger Fung Kar-Chun), who gets far more turned on by expensive cars.

Annie Wu Chen-chun. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Yan-fai is soon in seventh heaven when Sean (Perry Chiu Woon) moves in across the hall: she's beautiful, she's an expert dancer, and she has a collection of cars he could never possibly afford. Sean is also a professional and aware that Yan-fai has been watching her work at night, so she offers to leave a spot open for him...provided her leaves his video camera behind. Meanwhile, Sau-wan and Michel have started living together (following a drunken evening which ended up with them in bed together) and he coaches her on her dancing in preparation for another tryout.

Roger Fung Kar-Chun and Perry Chiu Woon. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

At the risk of repeating myself over and over again on this page, HK romantic comedies exist almost exclusively in a netherworld where literally anything can happen and no one acts the way real human beings would, even in situations this blithely absurd. Screenwriter Erica Lee Man (adapting her own novel) offers up scenarios so unlikely, it is difficult to differentiate them from a comic dream sequence that pops up around the mid-point. So, once again, how much you will enjoy the movie depends heavily on the cast: are they appealing enough to make you buy into this nonsense and perhaps even be charmed by it? Grace Yip and Annie Wu (dubbed by another actress whose voice really does not suit her at all) are not given that much of interest to work with but there is a change-of-pace role for Andrew Lin (with a twist best kept a surprise) who does what he can with the familiar "HK gay male" stereotype. The real eye-opener is Perry Chiu Woon (who was discovered by director Clifton Ko Chi-sum and went on to become the leading light of the Ching Tin Theatre Group), making her film debut. Granted, Sean is easily the most colorful and desirable of the women here but Chiu brings the right combination of personality and sex appeal to the part, making more of an impression than some actresses who specialize in this sort of fantasy girl figure. James Wong Jim's comic relief security guard was definitely a bad idea, however, and his bits will make you glad you have speed search.

Roger Fung Kar-Chun and Perry Chiu Woon. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

DVD Specs:

Mei Ah #DVD-335
Dolby Digital (5.1 and 2.1)
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Letterboxed (1.64:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category IIB (for mild sexual content)
93 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Mei Ah.

That Mei Ah "digital cheesecloth" look is very much in evidence here and makes one want to get up and dust off the TV screen. The print and transfer are nice but smearing is common and quite distracting at times. The 5.1 remixes just add the usual echo; the originals are better. There is no trailer for this film but there are previews for A WAR NAMED DESIRE and HELP!!! As usual with Mei Ah, there are no time functions.

Annie Wu and Vincent Kuk Tak-chiu. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.

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