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Love Au Zen
Year: 2001
Flora Chan and Annie Wu
Director: Derek Chiu Sung-Kei
Writer: Raymond To Kwok-Wai
Cast: Poon Chan-Leung, Flora Chan Wai-Shan, Andrew Lin Hoi, Annie Wu, Ko Hon-Man
The Skinny: Uncommonly intelligent screenwriting is the hallmark of this sometimes amusing comedy/dissertation on the pursuit of love and a state of higher being. The overabundance of talking makes the film questionably affecting, but the rare intelligence can make this a welcome change-up from most Hong Kong fare.
by Kozo:
     Those who like lots of talking may get a kick out of Derek Chiu's Love au Zen, which possesses a rare intelligent screenplay from celebrated playwright Raymond To Kwok-Wai. The film posits that love and inner harmony (which is a main component of Zen) are constantly at odds, and uses a pair of Hong Kong couples of explore the subject. Andrew Lin and Annie Wu are due to get married, but their relationship is portrayed as materialistic and shallow. Right before the wedding, best man Poon Chan-Leung (of The Mad Phoenix) splits, leaving girlfriend (and maid-of-honor) Flora Chan alone. He returns for the wedding, and reveals that he has retreated to a Buddhist monastery to contemplate his life - and Flora's part in it. With that tension firmly in place, Andrew and Annie's wedding goes to hell, leaving all couples on rocky ground. Poon and Andrew head to the monastery for further spirtual enlightenment, and soon Annie and Flora follow to seek their own answers.
     The scenes at the monastery actually prove to be the most interesting - and didactic, meaning that possible snoozing could occur. Love au Zen provides a good deal of cultural content for your movie dollars, and the Zen details are certainly interesting. However, the actual impact of such verbal lessons is questionable, and their effect on the characters seems marginal at best. The characters themselves are not particularly compelling, with the notable exception of Ko Hon-Man as Poon Chan-Leung's classmate and Master at the monastery. It's his job to dispense most of the Zen thinking, and he does so in a charismatic, engaging fashion. The film itself is engaging too, and director Chiu keeps things moving in a thoughtful manner. However, when all is said and done, you may not care what happens to the characters, and the Zen lessons don't seen to be more than intriguing, but ultimately unnecessary verbal jousting. Those seeking intelligent Hong Kong fare will likely find this unusual effort worthwhile and even charming, but as a self-contained film it doesn't prove particularly satisfying. (Kozo 2001)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen