Fighting for Love



Reviewed by YTSL

Pathetic but true:  There are certain actors and actresses who I honestly have enjoyed watching doing such utterly mundane things as grocery shopping (Brigitte Lin and Chow Yun-Fat in “Dream Lovers”), getting their hair washed (Brigitte Lin -- again! -- in “Starry is the Night” and Sylvia Chang in “Forever and Ever”), drinking a bottle of Coke (Brigitte Lin -- once more! -- in “Morning Fog” and “Run Lover Run”), eating cans of pineapple (Takeshi Kaneshiro in “Chungking Express”), feeding someone grapes (Ruby Wong in “Expect the Unexpected”) and frying an egg (Ruby Wong again -- this time in “Where a Good Man Goes”).  It is hoped that whoever chooses to watch the Joe Ma helmed romance that stars Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Sammi Cheng does or will feel this way about at least one, but preferably both, of the film’s leads.  Otherwise, the chances of this 2001 movie’s viewers being able to derive any pleasure from a cinematic offering in which nothing truly consequential or unpredictable happens will be very slim indeed.

The hole-filled and sometimes quite improbable plot of FIGHTING FOR LOVE goes as follows:  On their way to the hospital (Little Tony Leung’s Veg Chiang character is transporting his sick mother to see a doctor while Sammi Cheng’s Deborah Fok character is going to visit her already admitted elder sister), the car driven by the movie’s lead female knocks a side window off of the male protagonist’s van.  In the hospital car park, an irate Veg -- who is rather ironically named, seeing as he is the boss of Gut Lee, a restaurant specializing in “cooked bull organs” (which probably include that which is euphemistically known in the U.S. as “Rocky Mountain Oysters) -- confronts an unrepentant Deborah, who reacts against his angrily kicking her car by calling the police.  Told by the policewoman who responded to this call to settle things on their own, the two hot-heads agree to meet shortly afterwards in a bar, get drunk, and end up in bed with each other.
The morning after sees Deborah feeling very happy and Veg feeling very guilty since it turns out that he has a girlfriend named Mindy (who happens to be a TV star who looks to be as popular with Veg’s family as her fans).  Deborah’s happiness dissipates even before she finds this out about Veg though, since she gets sacked from her job -- for a costly mistake she insists was made by the boss’ wife rather than herself -- later that same day and, while still in a daze from her job loss, proceeds to incur the ire of her father by losing his pet dog while supposedly taking it out for a walk.  Rather than stay in their apartment and have to listen to her father ranting at her, and with no other place that she could think of to go to, she goes to the hospital in which her sister is a patient, and asks to be given a place to sleep there.
On a visit to the hospital in which his mother (also) has been (temporarily) warded, Veg spots Deborah (whose surely uncommon request the hospital had actually acceded to!), she spots him, and ends up pouring out her woes to him.  To his query of what can he do to make her feel better, she asks that he tell her that he loves her.  Instead of lying to her, he comes out and tells her that he can’t honestly do so because he actually has a girlfriend (who, conveniently -- as it turns out -- for the purposes of the story, happened to have gone off to Japan, thereby leaving Veg with plenty of time to spend with and on others).  Although she is obviously not ecstatic to learn this, Deborah takes the news better than one might expect her to, and thereby looks to have earned Veg’s respect, if not love.
Shortly afterwards, FIGHTING FOR LOVE’s three scriptwriters -- who consist of director Joe Ma, sometime director Aubrey Lam (she it was who helmed as well as wrote the script for “Twelve Nights”) and Taures Chow -- seem to have really asked the movie’s viewers to take a big leap of faith or something, because Deborah and Veg quickly and easily appear to have become bosom buddies, and she just as suddenly and without much ado ends up lodging in the big house in which the actually pretty wealthy man lives with his eccentric family (N.B. News that Andy Lau still lives with his parents should establish, if not confirm, that this would not be an unheard of arrangement in present-day Hong Kong).  Also around this time, the film -- whose major saving grace lies in its having the charismatic lead actor and actress that it does -- seems to slow down considerably pace-wise, and this is when a considerable amount of footage gets devoted to showing Little Tony and the one and only Sammi doing not much more than hanging out together, leisurely and happily eating ice cream, attempting to drown their sorrows by gulping down cans of not particularly alcoholic beer and just plain luxuriating in each other’s company.
Although this (re)viewer never for a moment expected FIGHTING FOR LOVE to have something other than a happy ending, she has to admit that there were points in this utterly unambitious and featherweight -- yet quite charming as well as surprisingly relaxing -- film that got her wondering whether Veg and Deborah really might be content to be good friends and nothing more than that.  Somewhere along the line though, what with Veg’s mother (veteran actress Lee Fung’s appearance in this movie is not much more than an extended cameo) telling Deborah that she ought to “fight for love”, and Mindy (who is played by Niki Chow) turning out to not be as nice as she had initially seemed, the story’s final outcome -- one which I trust will not disappoint the bulk of its viewers -- becomes abundantly clear.

My rating for the film:  6.5



DVD Information:

Distributed by Universe

The transfer is a bit soft - and the color tones never quite looked natural.

Letterboxed

8 Chapters

Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks

The subtitles are Chinese or English.

There is a trailer for this film and also ones for Heroes in Love and then 3 American films - What Women Want, Dr. T and his Women and The Gift - I sure hope including non-HK films does not become the norm.

There is a music video from Sammi - oddly Tony does not appear in any of the film bits.

There is a Making of Section

Bios on Tony Leung, Sammi and Joe Ma