All About Love

Film review by Lee Alon

**May Contain Spoliers**

Indeed, spoilers herein. But then again, with a story veering quite close to the formulaic and expectable, spoilers can be regarded as par for the course.
We could have sworn All about Love's premise was spotted somewhere, sometime, probably in a bit of French 70's psychedelia, alas at time of this writing no evidence supporting the theory has surfaced. Deja vu notwithstanding, anyone with minimal experience in movie watching will quickly suss out most of Daniel Yu's love tragedy, and likewise have little difficulty foretelling its dire, finalistic resolution.

Happily enough, and despite the absence of a smiles-all-around catharsis, AAL brought one of the neatest pieces of cinematography in HK filmography to the big screen. We can't honestly remember the last time a movie made in Port Fragrance looked this good, even if story-wise it was anything but original. Part surreal dramas, part interior design demo, as presented it shone from start to finish in the visual arena. Typically, HK flicks have awesome soundtracks and dodgy photography. With this one it's more the other way around.

And don't misunderstand; looks did not amount to All about Love's full extent. The tale told was also touching and had the more jaded in attendance taking note, or even holding back a few hefty globs of ocular discharge. To their credit, everyone involved with the project produced to acceptable standards, save maybe for the dialogue writers, as that was the weakest link. Characters on more than one occasion rambled, composing some banal discourse which the movie as a whole could have done more than equally well without.

Having noted that, we had to acknowledge somebody did their job properly for Charlene Choi to come across as competent and completely devoid of her irritating Hello Kitty/Kawaii act. Instead, she was simply sweet as Ziqing, young wife and hanger-on for dapper Doc Ko (Andy Lau). Although the pair shares a marvelous love and friendship, Ko's career comes first, wife doing constant battle with his schedule. It gets to the point of Ziqing collecting "tomorrow's", promises to meet for dinner the following evening. By the 108th promise, rookie driver Ziqing dies in a deadly car accident en route to picking up hubby from the hospital.

Fast-forward a while into the future, and Ko's no longer a practicing MD, but rather a captain in the city's corps of paramedics, under his dad's command (excellent Hui Siu Hung from Love Undercover and others). Ko jets around town in an ambulance driven by Lam Suet (seen recently in Election) like he was Nicholas Cage in Bringing Out the Dead, till one late night he comes across another crash victim, Yuen Sam (Charlie Yeung). As fate would have it, Yuen Sam has in her Ziqing's heart, a fact revealed to Ko by accosting Yuen Sam's cardiologist (Anthony Wong).

Sensing there's more to this than mere coincidence, Ko proceeds to take a vested interest in Yuen Sam's life, and promptly relives numerous moments experienced while his wife was still alive. The film did this cleverly via doubled up scenes where events occurred once for each of the female leads. The effect worked nicely and created significant emotional resonance, in spite of the frequently iffy situations and dialogue.

Events take a turn towards the bizarre for Ko when he discovers Yuen Sam's married to elite fashion designer Derek, another absent spouse who proclaims love yet is never around. The movie then shifts to shed light on the dysfunction ailing the second relationship, down to some very vocal confrontations over Yuen Sam's demands for affection: we realize she's also seriously sick, and may not survive the heart transplant for much longer.

But we did say bizarre didn't we? Of course. Here comes the movie's only true attempt at a twist. Derek looks uncannily like Ko, or mayhap exactly, for both are portrayed by Andy. This, naturally, opens new venues to explore, something AAB does, but half-heartedly so. However, lukewarm or not, All about Love reaches the finish line in mostly a workable condition, above all else thanks to its cast, yes, even pet peeve Charlene. Andy's again himself, always competent and professional, while Anthony Wong felt so much like a doctor you'd have him consult the guys from ER in a . . .  well heartbeat.

And while watching Charlie Yeung up close and personal, we decided there was something good about the hugely disappointing Seven Swords after all, coz she was in it. One of HK's sleeper talents from as early as Ashes of Time (1994), Yeung possesses a breathtaking spectrum, moving from timid and supple to volcanic with little observable lag. Coupled with Andy's romantic prowess and sad-puppy routines, the two contributed to AAB's tragic romance quotient as Yuen Sam and Ko probe their growing love for each other.

And don't forget the visuals. Yes, the acting was good, but the sights of AAB were right on the money for a mood-infused heart wrencher. We hope the studio has something similar in store for Valentine's, otherwise they sure missed on a winner. A cut above many of its genre peers but still not as polished and smooth as could be, All about Love earned the requisite boxes of Kleenex with moderately flying colors.

Rating: 7.0

Directed by Daniel Yu
Starring Andy Lau, Charlie Yeung, Charlene Choi, Anthony Wong, Hui Siu Hung
2005, Cantonese, 115 minutes

Contact Lee Alon here