Morning Fog

Reviewed by YTSL

No doubt about it:  Part of me realizes that this hardly great -- and greatly melodramatic -- 1978 Taiwanese weepie is one that only fans of Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia would hunt down and happily view.  On the other hand, my unrepentant Brigittephile side can’t help but believe that the young Brigitte who appears in dated offerings like these would charm and be winsome to quite a few folk; including those -- and I know they do exist! -- who cannot for the life of them understand why certain other people are so enamored by this goddess of an actress after watching some of the lesser outings she made in the twilight of her two decade long career (e.g., “Black Panther Warriors”, “The Bride with White Hair 2”, “Deadful Melody”, and “Three Swordsmen”), when it seemed like film makers reckoned that the bulk of their products’ audience would be satisfied to just see a couple of baleful glares and some sleeve swishing from the woman who portrayed -- and has a fixed place in the minds of many as -- Asia the Invincible (what a name as well as character!).

My reason for thinking what I do is that MORNING FOG is the kind of work in which Brigitte -- playing a potentially tragic figure of a nonetheless spirited lass, whose father was never married to her mother (a frowned and looked down upon arrangement in 1970s Taiwan), and who had to stop studying and start working upon the death of her mother, to pay off the accumulated medical, funeral and burial bills as well as make a living -- is called on to display a whole range of emotions as well as anchor the movie.  And believe you me when I state that a myriad amount of expressions do play over her always lovely face over the course of this film (as her character undergoes some romantic and other psychological trials).  Smiles, pouts, glares (one hurled at the not particularly strong character played by Chin Han definitely gave portends of what was to come after her move to Hong Kong!), hurt and sad looks that will tear at your heart, indignant and stubborn expressions that may be inadvertently chuckle-inducing, thoroughly adorable and cute ones galore -- they are all there for Brigittephiles to enjoy, sigh and luxuriate over.
I know, I know...I’m gushing like crazy.  But as the invalid boy who Brigitte’s character -- whose name is Tu Hsiao Meng -- gets a job as a nursemaid to (after being fired from her waitressing job for taking too much time to carry out the good deed of returning a customer’s wallet to him) tells her:  “You’re such a likeable girl!”  Then there’s Chin Han’s equally clearly enamored character’s pointing out to the woman who is the heart and soul of MORNING FOG that:  “You’re aren’t a vengeful person.  You’re kind to everybody”.
Of course these opinions are not shared by the villain of the piece, who not coincidentally wants Chin Han’s character -- who considers her father to be his mentor and is willing to do such as get engaged to whoever the older man wants him to -- for herself.  The degree to which the not very nice as well as highly ambitious Shih Mei Ni looks down at the poorer working girl can be seen in her having no qualms about referring to our heroine as “this bit of nothing” in front of the shocked trio of Tang Ying Ping (the invalid boy who turns out to also be an extremely wealthy guy), Tai Ya Luen (Chin Han’s character) and Tu Hsiao Meng.
These “old”, Brigitte-centric Taiwanese films being what they are (i.e., moralistic melodramas with plots that are simultaneously predictable and less than believable), there really is little doubt though as to whether the fates will be kind to the good girl and main star of the movie. In all honesty, my sense is that then, as now, this would not have overly concerned the bulk of this film’s audience.  Instead, what was sought was -- and is -- an opportunity to ooh and aah over Brigitte’s every move plus sigh at her wondrous beauty -- a sight that truly is heartclutching in MORNING FOG.

My rating for the film:  6 (N.B. Minus two points if you’re not a Brigittephile)