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Love At Seventh Sight
Love at Seventh Sight

Lulu Li and Mike He find Love At Seventh Sight.
Chinese: 七天愛上你  
Year: 2009  
Director: Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting  
Writer: Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting  
Cast: Mike He, Lulu Li Xiao-Lu, Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting
The Skinny: Love At Seventh Sight features an interminable first act, and while the film improves in the later going, it may be too little too late. Ultimately not much better than an average idol drama, only without the time and extended antics to win an audience over. Director Alfred Cheung has seen better days.
by Kozo:

You'd be forgiven if you walk out a half-hour into Love at Seventh Sight, because in the early going, the film is completely insufferable. Hong Kong Cinema fixture Alfred Cheung directs this story about documentary sound engineer Ziqi (Mike He), who takes a sabbatical in Beijing where he meets Bai Ye (Lulu Li), a young woman who hails from screenwriter fantasy land. The lovely, gentle Bai Ye asks Ziqi - who, mind you, is a complete stranger - to accompany her on an unexpected road trip in her fully-equipped RV. Since Bai Ye has lustrous long hair and looks like a Zhou Xun knockoff, Ziqi goes along, but oddly enough he seems to admire her RV (which he calls his "dream car") far more than her. No wonder he's currently single.

The lack of sexual tension aside, their journey along the Great Wall of China comes with tinkly piano music, fine scenery, and a few moments of manufactured closeness, so of course romance between the two attractive youngsters will bloom. Unfortunately, Bai Ye has a terminal disease that's in its last stage, and is ready to run off somewhere and die alone. But she's not really alone; as Ziqi says to Bai Ye at a key point, "You have helped me regain my sensitive soul." Ergo, he'll be with her forever and ever, or at least until she croaks. Obviously, this movie is the height of awesome.

Or maybe not. If you can't tell by the above condescending description, Love at Seventh Sight has an abominably saccharine story, and director Alfred Cheung doesn't help the situation much with his canned, television-like direction. The actors are also unconvincing, though the egregious soap opera situation certainly aids their assault on audience patience. Love at Seventh Sight jumps into its "pretty strangers go on a surprise road trip" plotline so quickly that it never earns credibility, and the boring banter and canned interplay is also the pits. It's great that these two seem to fall in love, but is watching it that great? Not a chance.

The film starts completely flat and stays that way for far too long, such that every last plot hole or lapse in logic is magnified egregiously. Lulu Li and Mike He never develop the proper chemistry to convince, with her twinkly smiles and his aw-shucks likability only seeming canned and fake. The fact that these two strangers would even hook up for a road trip beggars belief, but their burgeoning affection is also hard to buy. For a good long time, the film resembles a bad idol drama, from costumes and settings right down to the cloying soundtrack. By the time Ziqi utters that immortal line about his "sensitive soul", some audience members could be experiencing a blinding rage.

Ah, but the film has a twist, and if anyone in the audience is really paying attention, they should expect it. After all, there's no way this sweet little story can wrap up in just 30 minutes and still claim to be the meat of a major motion picture. Thankfully, the film does change, from a saccharine terminal beauty drama into a mistaken identity melodrama and finally into a situation comedy about a bunch of people who do logic-defying things in the name of love and affection. The film only becomes slightly more convincing, and the chemistry between the stars never takes off, but otherwise the film improves 3000 percent. That's quite a jump.

The above measurement is more of a knock on how interminable the first 30 minutes are than how good the film becomes, but it's not all terrible. Love at Seventh Sight actually has a fairly engaging, commercial storyline that's fit for plenty of romcom shenanigans. There's some silly situation stuff, the acting becomes funnier if not necessarily better, and even director Alfred Cheung shows up in an amusing if sometimes bewildering supporting role. Former Golden Horse winner Lulu Li is a much better actress than this material allows her to be, while Taiwan idol Mike He is dreamy in a bland, wooden Ekin Cheng sort of way (his hair, in particular, recalls Feel 100%-era Ekin). The film never seems better than average television drama, but hey, some people like that stuff. They'd probably like Love at Seventh Sight too. Good for them.

Love at Seventh Sight was originally intended to be a remake of Alfred Cheung's 1983 hit Let's Make Laugh, which actually won two Hong Kong film awards, one for Cheung's screenplay and the other for Cecilia Yip's sexy lead performance. However, Celestial Pictures denied Cheung the rights to his own film, such that the resulting product doesn't really resemble his original at all. The only commonality the two films now share is that both involve love happening over a course of seven days. However, while Let's Make Laugh showed some sexiness and unspoken bittersweet emotion, Love At Seventh Sight is overwritten and disingenuously chaste. Sure, it has better production values and a fine recreational vehicle, but it pales in comparison to an overacted, cheaply made Hong Kong Cinema relic. Let's Make Laugh shows that Cheung has solid skills as both a writer and a director. Twenty-six years later, however, it's gotten harder to believe that. (Kozo 2009)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Panorama Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image credit: Golden Scene

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