Sunday, April 26, 2009

Maggie Cheung in Mother vs. Mother

It says a lot about Maggie Cheung's talents that she survived sub-Wong Jing fare like 1987's Mother vs. Mother. Maggie appears in a thankless role in a series of 1980's fashion missteps opposite Jacky Cheung (who rocks a hideous black-and-white plaid shirt with a pair of stonewashed jeans!) in this tale of two would-be lovers whose parents have a history of bickering.

Jacky's father is played by the late Hong Kong legend Bill Tung and his wife is played by another late Hong Kong legend, Lydia Shum. Lydia is quite funny in this film and this is probably the first time I've seen her in such a prominent role.

Teng Pi-Yun plays a rival for Bill Tung's affections and it seems that he almost left Lydia at the altar to run off with the other woman.

But he didn't and it seems he's endured a lifetime of badgering by Lydia and now, as his son is about to date Teng Pi-Yun's daughter (Maggie Cheung), the sparks really fly.

Jacky Cheung plays a video director and Maggie plays the owner of a clothing shop where Jacky borrows furs and assorted garments for his films. There's a lot of cute courtship stuff but the real highlights of the film involve Lydia Shum.

In particular, a scene in a restaurant where Lydia gets into a shouting match with a showgirl who she thinks is Jacky's girlfriend is quite funny.

But after 90 minutes of this, it gets to be a bit shrill. Somehow the ending redeems the proceedings with a kind of only-in-a-Hong-Kong-film bit of nonsense: the two mothers are somehow strapped to a big wagon wheel and are arguing and fighting as it's about to conveniently roll off a cliff and into the sea. When Bill Tung gets involved, it gets even wackier.

Still, those last few minutes and assorted bits and pieces can't change the rest of the film which wasn't quite ridiculous enough to be on a par with a Wong Jing film and, thus, somehow seems all the more forgettable.

And, for what little I've read online about this film, it was quite successful at the box office at the time.

You can order Mother vs. Mother on DVD here.