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The Lovers
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Nicky Wu and Charlie Young as the eponymous lovers
Chinese: 梁祝
Year: 1994
Director: Tsui Hark
Producer: Tsui Hark
Writer: Tsui Hark, Sharon Hui Sa-Long
Cast: Charlie Young Choi-Nei, Nicky Wu, Carrie Ng Ka-Lai, Tsui Kam-Kong, Lau Shun, Peter Ho Yun-Tung, Suen Hing, Hau Bing-Bik, Lau Shui-Kei, Kok-Sam, Kok Lee-Lan
The Skinny: Potentially affecting but dangerously overwrought romantic drama from Tsui Hark that takes a classic tale and reimagines it with wacky Hong Kong slapstick and overwrought emotions. Still, the production values and music are superb.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Based on the popular story "The Butterfly Lovers", this incredibly sappy story from Tsui Hark features massive production values but a considerable amount of chutzpah, which isnít necessarily a good thing.

This is the age-old tale of young Chuk Ying-Toi (Charlie Young), who disguises herself as boy to attend college in ancient China (3 A.D.). There she meets Leung Shan-Pak (Nicky Wu) and the two become friends. However, as the story goes the two begin to fall in love, which is a problem because Leung Shan-Pak thinks they're both boys. Ying-Toi fears falling for her classmate and revealing her identity to the other students at large.

Since this is a modern Hong Kong film directed by screwball comedy lover Tsui Hark, the courtship of our two heroes is told in an incredibly wacky Hong Kong way. Their story consists of lots of muted slapstick, hideous mugging, and unbearably cute moments. Thankfully the actors show good chemistry with one another, and the widescreen cinematography and art direction are way above par for Hong Kong.

The problems arrive in hour two. The two young lovers are able to forge a bond unlike any other, or so the film wants us to believe. When their love is tested, disbelief settles in and the film undergoes a most trying tonal shift. First itís very cute, wacky, and endearing, and then suddenly itís horribly tragic. When her parents (the excellent Carrie Ng and the blustering Tsui Kam-Kong) object to their relationship due to class issues, the two rebel. Then...IT ALL GOES TO HELL! Strangely, Shan-Pak and Ying-Toiís forced parting is a horrible tragedy of epic proportions. 

This overdone romanticism is a Hong Kong Cinema trademark that Tsui Hark heartily endorses. While The Lovers plays on some rather familiar and dear emotions, it also succeeds at being perhaps the most terribly self-indulgent romance ever heard of. If you can buy it, itís compelling and utterly watchable, and the great production values and beautiful music only add to the effect. If you donít, then youíre in for a lot of head shaking. (Kozo 1995/1999)

 
Awards: 14th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Winner - Best Original Film Music (James Wong Jim, Mark Lui Chun-Tak, William Wu, Raymond Wong Ying-Wah)
• Nomination - Best Director (Tsui Hark)
• Nomination - Best Supporting Actress (Carrie Ng Ka-Lai)
• Nomination - Best Art Direction (William Cheung Suk-Ping, Chong Kwok-Wing)
• Nomination - Best Costume Design (William Cheung Suk-Ping)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
English and Chinese Subtitles

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

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