NEWS > Taiwan/HK
Peter Chan's "Perhaps Love" overwhelming mix of genres, cultures, plots
2005-12-09 01:22:28 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The picture shows a post with the four major characters in the movie "Perhaps Love" directed by Peter Chan. (Photo/SINA)

HONG KONG, Dec 9 (AP) -- Peter Chan's "Perhaps Love" features a South Korean heartthrob singing Mandarin pop songs and a Chinese actress performing Broadway-style dance numbers designed by a Bollywood choreographer.

It's an ambitious mix of genres, cultures and stories -- too ambitious. Hong Kong director Chan tries to do too much and ultimately bogs down the audience with visual and plot overkill.

The premise is simple enough. A separated couple of aspiring entertainers, Sun Na (Zhou Xun) and Lin Jiandong (Takeshi Kaneshiro) reunite for a movie when they become stars -- only the actress (Zhou) is now dating the director, Nie Wen (Jacky Cheung).

But Chan complicates matters by placing the trio in a love triangle set in a circus troupe.

Chan doesn't make things better with emotionally overwrought moments like Lin's penchant for swimming fully clothed and typing messages repeatedly into his computer. One underwater scene shows one of Lin's eyes slowing releasing a tear drop.

But from a purely artistic point of view, "Perhaps Love" is a bold and unique movie.

It's a Chinese-language, but Broadway-style musical set in old Shanghai choreographed by Bollywood dancer Farah Khan. Chan also casts South Korean actor Ji Jin-hee in a variety of secondary roles. Ji even sings in Chinese.

The set production is outstanding, mixing the neon signs of old Shanghai and rundown industrial areas. Dancers show off sexy tight dresses with long slits and gold-sequined costumes.

Chan is known for his skill at telling nuanced, heartwarming love stories like "Comrades, Almost a Love Story" and "Alan & Eric: Between Hello and Goodbye" He shows flashes of his tender touch in "Perhaps Love."

Chan brilliantly cultivates romance in scenes such as Sun and Lin sitting alone at the end of a bus and the couple enjoying hot pot in a dark but cozy basement apartment.

Peter Kam and Leon Ko's soundtrack is melancholy but not memorable. Chan is helped by Cheung, one of the Chinese-speaking world's biggest pop stars and a pioneer in Chinese musicals with his successful "Snow Wolf Lake."

Zhou surprises with a simple, innocent rendition of the folksy "Outside."

If director Chan suffered from any handicaps, it certainly wasn't manpower. Few movies start out with as much firepower as "Perhaps Love." Perhaps one of Chan's problems was finding a way to weave together an immense array of talent.

Apart from Khan, Ji, and Cheung, the movie was shot by cinematographer Peter Pau, who won an Oscar for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." One of the producers is Andre Morgan, who also produced Bruce Lee's "Enter the Dragon" and Sammo Hung's U.S. TV series "Martial Law."

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