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Lavender
Chinese: 薰衣草


Takeshi Kaneshiro and Kelly Chan

Year: 2000
Director: Riley Yip Kam-Hung
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Kelly Chan Wai-Lam, Eason Chan Yik-Shun, Cheng Pei-Pei, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, Terence Yin
The Skinny: Beautiful stars and effective direction combine to lift an otherwise heavy-handed and soggy script.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Riley Yip’s films seem to be getting worse and worse, though that’s a relative measure. His third film is an overstuffed, heavy-handed, but entertaining UFO comedy-drama about aroma therapist Athena (Kelly Chan), who’s stuck in a depressing rut ever since SDU boyfriend Andrew died. However, all is not lost as a wayward angel (Takeshi Kaneshiro) comes crashing through her skylight and proceeds to change her life.

The film has its attractive elements, but the little details are so cloying that you just want to slap someone at the production company. Kaneshiro (nicknamed “Angel”) is dying, but he needs to love to subsist. Sure, average physical love helps out in a pinch, but its true love that nourishes our photogenic star. In time, it seems he could get it from Athena (as many male audience members would like to, I’m sure), but the obstacles are many. Athena just can’t get over Andrew, and then there’s flaming gay neighbor Eason Chan, who should take sedatives before acting. He loved both Andrew and now Angel, but unlike Andrew, Angel ain’t no switch hitter. Eventually Angel decides he wants to love Athena. His desire is not just to heal himself, but to heal her of the heartbreak that threatens to destroy her and apparently Hong Kong at large. 

Okay, my description of the film is borderline derisive, but I’m probably speaking from a position of enlarged expectations. Quite frankly, I expected the most from this film, as it paired the lovely Kelly Chan with the charismatic Takeshi Kaneshiro under the direction of one of HK’s best new directors and the aegis of HK’s premier quality production house. The result bears many hallmarks of both Riley Yip and UFO, but the mix is quite forced. There’s just too much verbal exposition, and much of it involving awful UFO clichés which should have been retired a few years ago. 

At least the performances are better than par. Kelly Chan is ethereal and sexy, though I’d love to see her play a sweet, loveable girl instead of these high-maintenance beauty queens. Kaneshiro gets back on track with a role that allows him to use his boyish charisma, which has been sorely missing from films like Downtown Torpedoes and Tempting Heart. In the end, I would recommend this film for its stars and for its production design which is absolutely beautiful. Near the end of the flick Athena and Angel journey to Europe and as they stroll through fields of lavender you may be able to forget that you were jerked around for 90 minutes prior. (Kozo 2001)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd.

   
   
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