Love For All Seasons (2003)
Well, it had been a while since I'd watched a Sammiriam movie, and Milkyway Image movies are nearly always worth a watch, so I decided to pick up their latest Chinese New Year offering, LOVE FOR ALL SEASONS.
The premise: Louis Koo is a rich playboy known as "The Heartbreaker", for very good reason. Too much partying leaves his body in ruins, so he goes to Omei temple to be cured by Kung Fu master Sammi Cheng. No sooner is he better than Omei comes under serious threat, and Sammi Cheng has to learn the sect's "Heartbreak Sword" technique to protect the temple. She turns to Louis to break her heart, so that she can master the technique. Gosh, I hope they don't end up falling in love or something.
Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai are smart, inventive film-makers, but I expect they wrote the script for this movie over lunch and made the film in a few weeks. Interesting premise, but padded out to movie length with the usual kind of conflict-romantic comedy formula that seems to be all Hong Kong can produce these days. There's some interesting ideas, but it doesn't feel like their heart was really in it. It feels like a movie made purely with box office in mind, no real feeling or commitment.
Technically, it's as accomplished as a throwaway Milkway film can be expected to be. The acting mostly sucks, but this may have been deliberate - OTT performances being fairly common in CNY films. The cinematography and sound are good without being terribly adventurous. The movie features a few scenes of swordplay and wirework choreographed by Ma Yuk-Sing, which feature the kind of whirling twirling Ching Siu-Tung rip-offs that he usually produces. Nice to see somebody bothering to put some actors in the air still, but hardly the sort of action that suggests Hong Kong is about to return to what it does best.
Basically, LOVE FOR ALL SEASONS is a reasonably well made but ultimately disposable piece of fluff, made to satisfy conservative investors and a certain section of the audience that can still be made to go to see a local production if the right stars are in it. It's not a bad film, but it adds little to the world of cinema that hasn't been seen too many times before.
Not recommended, not un-recommended. See it if you feel like it!