Love is not a Game, But a Joke

I very much enjoyed this movie portraying life about a group of 20 somethings in contemporary HK much more than I had expected. It is a bit of a fairy tale about 3 Chinese male university students from Vancouver coming to HK to look for the same elusive girl. There is a bet among them about who will find her first. In their search they all find other loves and discover something about themselves.

Trite sounding, but the movie was quite well done and the images of HK were magical at times. The three male actors seemed nothing special to me and I never really understood the circumstances that led them to all be looking for this girl.

Christine Ng
But the three women they eventually find are wonderful and all give terrific performances - Teresa Lee as a nimble fingered girl living on her wits and speed of foot, Christine Ng as a sympathetic bus driver who loves to challenge red lights and Hsu Chi.
Teresa Lee
In particular, I thought Hsu Chi was just outstanding. She plays a policewoman madly in love with a rough triad member who won’t return her love. One scene of her starring at him from the shadows with intense unrequited love and teardrops falling down her cheeks was astonishingly beautiful and distressing to watch.
She has a face full of varied expressions and is endlessly fascinating to watch, but I think its time to realize that she is much more than a stunning beauty and that her acting is improving quite dramatically.

My rating for this film: 8.0

Reviewed by YTSL

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.  This is the most "lovey-dovey" movie I have seen in ages, and surely, a top candidate for the sickliest sweet yet bland vanilla concoction ever produced by Hong Kong moviemakers.  By this description, it should be eminently clear that I was none too enamoured by this puff-cake offering.

Although LOVE IS NOT A GAME BUT A JOKE has a promisingly quirky premise (three guys having a competition to find the same gal, with the one who did so before the others getting to keep her.  Somewhat annoyingly though, we never learn whether she had any say with regards to this arrangement), what we come to see and realize as the movie progresses is that these early twenty-something -- or maybe younger...gosh, do they act as well as look SO young! -- year old boy-men (played by Andy Hui,
Jan Lamb, Wallace Chung) are more generically intent on pursuing love with a(ny) member of the opposite sex than going after a particular person.  Consequently, and too easily as well as expectedly, before too
long, the attention of the three guys get diverted and they abandon their "game".

The objections of their affections come in the form of:  A sprite-like ragamuffin (played by Theresa Lee); a policewoman who pines for a Triad (unconvincingly played by Hsu Chi...who looks like she's 18, is probably supposed to be in her 20s in this movie but acts like she's 15); and a bus driver whose bus never seems full (played by Christine Ng...whom I thought was the most mature-looking individual of the six main actors AND the best thing about this movie).  How these women manage to effortlessly wrap the men around their little fingers as well as warm up to these really unattractively immature (one of them likes to sniff perfume samples and regularly carries a stuffed animal and a toy gun in his backpack -- Enough said, I think!) individuals is something I find really puzzling and actually disturbing.

Maybe my problem is that I do not believe in love for love's sake.  All I know is that while I can suspend my disbelief and accept the (on-screen) existence of flying kung fu masters and hopping vampires along with the possibility of a hand-flicked bullet being able to kill a person (in "Once Upon a Time in China I") and a castrated male coming in the form of the gorgeous Brigitte Lin (in "Swordsman II" and "The East is Red"), I found it immensely difficult to find credibility in much of this movie.  Perhaps if you are an avowed romantic, this production might make for pleasurably light viewing.  For my part, I felt like the joke was on me for misguidedly thinking that this movie was one which I would enjoy.

My rating for this film:  4.5.

Is that a face or what?