Fast-talking career woman Deborah knocks the side mirror off the car of Tung Choi, the heir to a tripe restaurant, throwing the two together in a series of oddball hijinks that eventually turn to love. Too bad Tung Choi has a bitchy girlfriend and a crazy family to get in the way.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: ★★★
Only 만: ★★.5
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: For a change of pace, we decided to review a movie that is not Korean. I proposed Fighting for Love, a 2001 Hong Kong movie starring Tony Leung and Sammi Cheng. I grew up with Hong Kong movies, but I’ve watched so many Korean dramas recently that I found Fighting for Love unfamiliar, despite the fact that it is very much a typical HK romantic comedy.
Only 만: I haven’t watched that many Hong Kong movies, so I also found it unfamiliar. But, let’s start with what we liked. I enjoyed the banter and chemistry between Tung Choi and Deborah, even though I didn’t buy their romance. I also liked that Deborah was such a straightforward character, but neither a helpless female, nor a one-dimensional bitch.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Yes, those are two aspects of HK movies that I particularly like. The English subtitles do not even do justice to how off colour and off the cuff the dialogue can be. And, Deborah is a style of heroine that is not unusual in HK movies.
Only: Really? I’ll keep watching then. I really enjoyed her bluntness, especially in asking for what she wants. I particularly enjoyed the conversation they had the morning after they had their drunken night of passion. Or impromptu sex, more accurately.
Junggugeo Kaenada: It has been a while since I’ve seen an HK movie so I am not sure what the current attitude tends to be towards one night stands. In the past (1980s & early 1990s), I think the characters would have gotten more excitable about it. I noticed that they still resort to hugging as a default, as opposed to kissing.
Only: Well, the way they spoke was a direct contrast to what was shown on screen. Deborah matter-of-factly goes to the doctor for a morning-after pill the next day, but we never even saw them get near a bed until they were leaving it.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Well, the jump from the nightclub to the bed is just one example of the jarring scene to scene transitions. The conversations between Tung Choi and Deborah would just go on and on, and then, rather than build on what they have established, they just start an unrelated scene.
Only: I found myself lost on more than one occasion. One major example was Deborah working at Tung Choi’s restaurant. I thought I’d missed something, but no, it was just an abrupt transition. It seemed like the director was more interesting in inserting particular set pieces than following a logical sequence. I would even categorize the transition to love the same way. They make tripe soup, they go for dinner, and next thing, he confesses his love. I had no idea how we got there.
Junggugeo Kaenada: You mentioned how you didn’t buy the romance, and I agree. Undoubtedly, Tung Choi and Deborah had chemistry, but the director never bothered to present a lead up to romance. It was pretty abrupt. No wonder Tung Choi and Deborah looked so awkward. Though, I think they were acting awkward, because Tung Choi still had a girlfriend, and they were feeling guilty.
Only: Ah, Mindy. Undoubtedly the worst character in the movie, and that’s including the crazy sister. I can’t even figure out why she was included except maybe for the scene at the hairdresser, and the lame attempt by the writer to keep the two leads apart towards the end.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Well, that’s at least two reasons for her existence. What was the point of Tung Choi’s drug damaged sister, and his weepy brother? And, the other sister was just nosy, I suppose?
Only: I assumed the reason was general wackiness. Regardless, I could have done without it.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I don’t mind wacky, but they were complete non-sequiturs. The appearances of the characters were so brief that there was no context for them.
Only: Given that we normally review K-dramas, how did that affect your view of this movie? For me, I kept expecting a redemption narrative, even though I knew I wasn’t going to get one.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Well, the movie kept defying my K-drama tinted expectations, too. Yet, every time the movie took a different turn, it was still recognizable to me. Perhaps, you would have more clear cut view on the differences between the two genres?
Only: Well, the biggest difference was the lack of a change in tone. I find in K-dramas, regardless of whether they start out as a comedy or whatever, there is an inevitable turn towards melodrama in the third act. Even though Mindy popped up towards the end, and Tung Choi changed his mind, I never really felt like the tone of the movie had changed.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Another obvious difference was how mouthy the female lead of Fighting for Love was. I can recall a few K-drama heroines who were a little rougher around the edges: Geum Jan Di of “Boys Over Flowers”, Go Eun Chan of “First Shop of Coffee Prince”, the title character of “My Lovely Sam Soon”, and Aileen in “Surplus Princess”. However, none of them were quite on the same level as Deborah.
Only: Ha! No, I’ve never seen a K-drama heroine crack a joke that she didn’t need an abortion as a result of a one night stand. Deborah had an awesomely foul mouth. I nearly fell off the couch a few times.
Junggugeo Kaenada: To be clear, HK movies and television have their own version of the candy girl, as well as the melodramas where everyone inevitably dies by the end. However, their love of the low class comedy definitely sets them apart from Korean entertainment; Stephen Chow is a master of this.
Only: Being a low class kind of gal, I may have to check more of these movies out.
Junggugeo Kaenada: What is your final assessment of Fighting for Love?
Only: Fighting for Love is a comedy enjoyable for its crassness, and the chemistry between the two leads, but the lack of a logical sequence and a weak romantic storyline make this movie only a small cut above mediocre.