Director Joe Ma and star Sammi Cheng stage a Feel 100%
reunion. The new face: newly crowned Cannes Film Festival
Best Actor Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. This mundane romantic comedy
is an odd follow-up to his award-winning turn in Wong Kar-Wai's
In the Mood for Love, but he manages to find real chemistry
with his co-star. The movie is another matter entirely.
Tung Choi (Leung) is the third generation
shop owner of a string of beef noodle restaurants. He gets
into a minor fender bender with the hard working, yet outwardly
mean Deborah (Cheng). The two engage in an ill-tempered spat
which makes both characters seem completely unlikable. Meeting
later to negotiate a truce, the two end up engaging in a one-night
stand, but a happy ending is far from possible. Tung is linked
to high-maintenance TV personality Mindy (Niki Chow of Feel
100% II), and Deborah is about to encounter a fitting
fall from grace. Thanks to her mean-spirited behavior, she
loses her job, her home (she and her father have a spat),
and possibly her self-respect.
Deborah and Tung encounter each other
at the hospital, where Tung is visiting his mother and Deborah
is staying (as in sleeping on the floor) with her sister.
Tung offers to let her freshen up at his home, but she ends
up sleeping on the couch for a short period of time. Tung's
extremely weird family seems against Deborah; they tout Mindy's
positive points at every given chance. However, Deborah wins
Tung's trust and even affection thanks to her newly-humbled,
hard-working manner and that one inexplicable quality: chemistry.
Joe Ma really leans on his stars
to carry this feather-weight comedy, and for the most part
he succeeds. Tung and Deborah's romance seems oddly real in
its starts and stops, stuttering communication, and moments
of quiet affection. Cheng and Leung make a believable, likable
couple, though apart they seem to be complete nightmares.
Leung turns in a restrained performance that plays to his
talent for subtlety. For Cheng, this is a definite change
of pace. Deborah is not an inherently likable character, and
she most definitely is not the sweet, winning girl that Cheng
so often plays. Though Deborah's personality turnaround seems
quick, Cheng does manage to make the entire character seem
somewhat real and even sympathetic.
On the other hand, the story makes
little sense. Deborah and Tung's romance is surrounded by
a strange plotline consisting of chicanery at Deborah's former
job and the manipulative machinations of Mindy. The two plotlines
intersect for a climax at a company party, where Mindy and
Deborah spar in a contrived verbal duel that swings between
the bizarre and the implausible.
Furthermore, the supporting characters
make no sense. Tung's family seems to switch allegiances between
women rather quickly, and Deborah's former co-workers behave
in an inconsistent manner. Fighting for Love works
best when Cheng and Leung are alone on the screen together.
At those times, you can believe that these two flawed human
beings could find some semblance of love. However, considering
the rest of the film, the two actors should probably be in
another movie entirely. (Kozo 2001)