Hong Kong Digital
is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film
reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong
And I Hate You So
Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing. Images courtesy Universe.
Early on in what turns out to be an exceedingly bad day, newspaper columnist Luna Ng (Kelly Chan Wai-lam) has her power turned off by the electric company and then knocks over and breaks her coffee cup in a restaurant. These mishaps are just a taste of what is to come, however. While browsing in an antiques shop, Luna runs across an exceedingly rare album she gave her first boyfriend. She knows that this is the very same record because her declaration of love is scrawled on the cover and, understandably, Luna wants to get this embarrassing remnant of her past out of circulation. The store owner (Teresa Mo Shun-kwan, in her first film role since retiring in 1994) has already promised the album to Cheung Yung (Aaron Kwok Fu-shing), the smooth host of the Vinyl Record Courier radio show and, when Luna calls him and pleads her case, he refuses to let her have it. If that were not infuriating enough, Yung proceeds to mention the incident on his program that evening, in order that Luna will feel "The Beauty of Regret." She retaliates by slagging Yung in her column ("Luna Talks," a name that can also be pronounced in Cantonese as "Menstrual Cycle") the next day and tosses a glass of red wine in his face at a party that evening. Deciding that getting to know the enemy will provide the best plan of attack, the DJ pours through Luna's past columns and starts reading them on the air as ammunition against her. His ratings soar, prompting Yung's boss to insist that she be invited as a guest on the show. Things get predictably ugly during the broadcast and, when a regulatory committee files a complaint against the station as a result, Yung quits. Luna, meanwhile, fails miserably as the host of an internet chat room and her writing even starts to suffer. Of course, there is only one inevitable outcome for two people who are so unhappy (and it's not suicide).
Jessica Suen Huen. Image courtesy Universe.
Just about everything is a foregone conclusion in pictures of this sort, so how much they entertain depends almost entirely on the performers and the presentation. AND I HATE YOU SO boasts a quality cast, with Chan fine in the sort of blustery part she has tended to get as of late. Kwok makes less of an impression in a largely one-dimensional role but Jessica Suen Huen (as the unappreciated female friend who yearns to be more than friends) and actor/composer Mark Lui Chung-tak (as the obnoxious soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend) come across, as do Julian Cheung Chi-lam and Cheung Tat-ming in smaller roles. In addition to the main story, there is also a subplot (in which Teresa Mo's lonely character buys a really ugly dog and falls in love with the beast's original master, played by Eric Tsang Chi-wai) which is almost entirely superfluous and never amounts to much. The two make an endearingly ornery couple, worthy of their own TVB miniseries, but these scenes cannot help but play like an afterthought.
Eric Tsang Chi-Wai and Teresa Mo Sun-Kwun. Image courtesy Universe.
Cinematographer Peter Pau and celebrated art director-turned-director Yee Chung-man (aka Hai Chung-man) give the film a very pleasant look, offering up a Hong Kong that is conspicuously clean and uncluttered, save for the paper-strewn mess in Luna's apartment (ever met a writer who was capable of tidying anything up?). While AND I HATE YOU SO manages to induce several smiles along the way, it is plagued by some truly tired devices, from the "hit single montage" to an all-too-familiar climax (so many HK romances would end entirely differently if the airport wasn't such a distant cab ride away!), making the long-term commitment of purchase far less desirable than a guilt-free one night rental.
Kelly Chan Wai-Lam and Julian Cheung Chi-Lam. Image courtesy Universe.
Kelly Chen. Image courtesy Universe.