Monday, March 21, 2011
Cherie Chung Week: Spiritual Love (1987)
Chow Yun-Fat stars as Pu Yung Tsai, a shady character -- collector for a loan shark in an early scene -- who lives with his cousin, Sai Chin Hua (Deanie Ip), a sort of medium, in 1987's Spiritual Love.
Cherie Chung enters the film as Wei Hsiao Tieh, a ghost. Spiritual Love is only 84-minutes long but there's a lot of detail here in the beginning scenes as Chow Yun-Fat reads a letter from the ghost (?) and we see an elaborate flashback to her earlier horrible life.
After Pu burns the letter, the ghost is reincarnated in the person of Cherie Chung. She shows up drowning in Hong Kong harbour and Chow Yun-Fat rescues her and the romance begins.
There's a weird music video sequence with Deannie doing some Taoist ritual. She works at a hotel and it seems that her noisy business causes the guests to complain. One guest is a hooker (Pauline Wong) who happens to be the girl that Chow Yun-Fat's Pu was chasing after before the ghostly Cherie showed up.
All the business here with Chow Yun-Fat and his deaf mute beefy friend (Alex Ng) seems a bit odd. It certainly adds some interesting drama and comedy to the film but it's still not entirely essential to the plot; I mean, the film just had a ghost show up so why are the viewers wasting time with this other stuff?
So Cherie's ghost cleans up after the slovenly Chow Yun-Fat and the two bond a bit. Deanie Ip's medium can't see the ghost. Or can she?
There's a nice sequence where the two have a mock martial arts fight in the apartment and then Chow Yun-Fat heads out to the clubs.
He gets roughed up by Pauline Wong's guys until Cherie takes human form and distracts the assailants.
Somehow, Chow Yun-Fat doesn't realize that the new hottie is the same gal as the ghost so she takes him on a brief flying trip over Hong Kong.
Then Cherie's ghost rescues Chow Yun-Fat and the deaf guy from a bunch of gangsters.
But Chow Yun-Fat still owes money to local gangster Paul Chun Pui.
Okay, as you can tell from my half-hearted attempt to summarize this thing, Spiritual Love (1987) has far too many plot elements at work in its 84 minutes.
By the time the jilted Pauline Wong kills herself, a viewer is exhausted.
Spiritual Love (1987) is not a horrible film but it is a messy one.
Still, that messiness is sometimes the sort of thing that Hong Kong film fans cherish. In the 1980s and 1990s, filmmakers in Hong Kong threw everything into the mix.
This flick has a lot going on but it moves quickly and there are some nice moments from leads Chow Yun-Fat and Cherie Chung, even if their characters' romance is a bit unbelievable even in the context of this story.
I think the tone of Spiritual Love (1987) is what makes it a moderately successful film; it's not too manic and silly despite all of the weird and otherworldly elements that I've described.
Check out this review from Brian's site.
You can order the remastered version of Spiritual Love (1987) on DVD here.