Fatal Love (1993)
After watching Eternal Evil Of Asia, I had it in my mind to see some more Ellen Chan. FATAL LOVE sounded *ahem* interesting. I wasn't expecting a good movie, just some fluff that I could put on at 7am and fall asleep to. I was hence quite surprised to find myself totally gripped, and still awake at 9.
Ellen Chan is a young police academy graduate who is offered a chance to work undercover. Her job is to get close to Billionaire tycoon Michael Wong, suspected of involvement in drugs trafficking, but also suspected of being linked to the rape and murder of a number of young women.
The movie opens with a scene that lets you know how it ends. We see Ellen being rushed into a hospital emergency ward, not looking at all well, whilst Michael looks heartbroken. This scene is really well filmed, quite tense & intense. I was like "wow, what a great first 2 minutes... now where's the nudity?". The first piece of nudity does appear but moments later, with a totally gratuitous shot of Ellen in the shower. Short though, and it will be quite some time before Ellen is disrobed again. The one thing that I would never have expected is that after this tense and well filmed first 2 minutes there would come about 86 more of them. Well, maybe only 84, plus a couple more minutes of gratuitous nudity.
Far from the 'lets find excuses to get pretty girls naked' Cat III fluff I was expecting, FATAL LOVE turns out to be a very well crafted psychological thriller. You know from the beginning how it all ends, but you're never quite sure how it's going to get there - or exactly what it was you saw in those first 2 minutes. The movie manages to sustain its atmosphere pretty well from being to end, and genuinely had me quite on edge - something few movies manage. The characters are very 3-dimensional and well developed, and the script/dialogue/pacing all top notch. Ellen Chan gives an absolutely outstanding performance, and I hate to say it but Michael Wong is really good here too (it helps that he was dubbed by somebody who could act, so if you don't look at him too much you don't have to suffer his natural awfulness). The movie is basically carried by these 2 actors, and under Lo Gin's direction they bear their load well. Maria Cordero deserves a special mention as Debbie's mum too, as she is really good in the few scenes she appears in. The cinematography and especially the soundtrack are very good throughout as well, really building up the atmosphere.
Now perhaps it was red bull and sleep deprivation talking, or perhaps just that my expectations were so low I couldn't help but be impressed, but I found FATAL LOVE a much deeper and more rewarding movie than I expected. Far from a titillation-fest, even quite cerebral. It's also quite... scary? Almost disturbing. There is some sex throughout, and some violence - both are actually pretty "full on"... but kept well within the framework & atmosphere of the thriller at FATAL LOVE's core. They are genuinely integral to the story and add to it. Honest!