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Give Love
Give Love     Give Love

(left) Wilson Chen and (right) Gigi Leung in Give Love .
Chinese: 愛得起  
Year: 2009  
Director: Joe Ma Wai-Ho, Fire Lee  
Writer: Tong Yiu-Leung
Cast: Gigi Leung Wing-Kei, Wilson Chen, Shao Bing, Shaun Tam Chun-Yin, Regen Cheung Wai-Nga, Winkie Lai Mei-Yin, Crystal Cheung Man-Ga, Yang Yiu-Yiu, Hui Siu-Hung, Emily Kwan Bo-Wai, Louis Fan Siu-Wong
The Skinny: Gigi Leung and Wilson Chen star in this average romantic dramedy that's dragged below average by lousy direction. A hit in China, for what it's worth.
by Kozo:

If you refuse to pay your Hong Kong taxes because of Give Love, no jury would convict you. Bankrolled in part by the government's Film Development Fund, Give Love is a Hong Kong/China co-production that makes one long for the quality Hong Kong Cinema represented by La Lingerie or Kung Fu Dunk. Yes, even some of 2008's worst movies are a step up from Give Love. Co-directors Joe Ma and Leefire (or "Fire Fire" if we do a literal translation of his name) don't just drop the ball - they fumble it out of bounds while simultaneously undercutting their star player and tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. Now he's out with a career-threatening injury and they've lost not just the possession, but the entire season. And yes, this metaphor has been egregiously extended - but there's a reason. That reason: it prevents me from talking about the actual film.

Gigi Leung stars as Leslie Chan, a marketing manager who has your usual movie romantic problems. In the opening scene, she meets airline employee Yutong (Wilson Chen), who is immediately smitten, but he's so bookish and shy that he can only privately vow to woo her if he ever sees into her again. His chance arrives one year later when she fortuitously comes to stay with him in his Hong Kong apartment. The problem: she's newly-married to his brother Hilton (Mainland star Shao Bing), meaning she's technically unavailable. However, a cutaway to China shows Hilton getting it on with his over-emotional secretary, meaning that Yutong should now have a chance with his houseguest, who's becoming a distraction already because she likes to wander around the apartment in short shorts and high heels. She also acts in a girlish sitcom manner that would charm any fan of Meg Ryan movies. How can Yutong resist?

Well, he can because he's written that way. Yutong is an egregiously righteous individual, and has a minor fit anytime anyone around him won't take responsibility for, well, anything. He harangues Leslie for spending too much time drinking with her best bud (an overacting Emily Kwan Bo-Wai), gets loudly pissed at one of those Hotcha girls for dating his married friend (Shaun Tam), and - most important of all - he gets ultra-incensed about Hilton not being able to commit properly to Leslie. His righteousness also gets in the way of dating Leslie, because how can such a righteous dude take his brother's girl - even when that brother has dumped her and has proven himself to be a complete jerk? There's something categorically admirable in Yutong's righteous ways, but obviously he's his own worst enemy.

There's some decent characterization here, and as written, Yutong is an endearing character. Unfortunately, Wilson Chen is only a shade above intolerably dull in the part, giving the character an earnest righteousness but absolutely none of the charm that Chen is capable of. Chen seems to be acting in a completely different movie than Gigi Leung, who still shows that she's got romantic comedy charm. Funny faces, girlish giggles, animated body language - even in her thirties, Leung has the goods. The problem is that she's hawking her romcom wares with the wrong partners. The script itself is not exceptionally good or bad, but it's killed by the abysmal direction, which bores from practically minute one. Joe Ma was once a youth comedy king, but his touch is muted here, and he and co-director Leefire (a.k.a. stage actor Fire Lee Ka-Wing, who appeared in Ma's Love Undercover 3) bring neither storytelling skill nor visual wit to their presumably entertaining movie. Bad continuity, choppy editing, a drab production, terrible music, inconsistent acting - this film is a clinic in substandard filmmaking.

Give Love opened in very few theaters in Hong Kong, guaranteeing box office death and a quick berth on home video. However, it's likely the filmmakers don't really care about the film's Hong Kong release because it already went wide in China and did rather well there, outselling Taiwan blockbuster Cape No.7 handily. Congratulations should be in order for the dough earned, but Give Love is so unimpressive as an actual film that the Film Development Fund could justifiably ask for its money back. Give Love is dull, uninteresting, and becomes disposable and also-ran after only ten or fifteen minutes. Even Gigi Leung, or a reference to the work of Haruki Murakami (Yutong's love for Leslie is inspired by Murakami's short story "On seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful April morning") canít salvage this thing. In the end, one can only hope that the filmmakers are pocketing their paychecks with some feeling of regret. Shame would be an appropriate emotion too. (Kozo 2009)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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images courtesy of Mei Ah Entertainment Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen