Poorly developed yet oddly real...4
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director Joe Ma and star Sammi Cheng stage a Feel 100% reunion. The new face: newly crowned Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Tony Leung Chiu-Wai. This mundane romantic comedy is an odd follow-up to his award-winning turn in Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love, but he manages to find real chemistry with his co-star. The movie is another matter entirely.
Tung Choi (Leung) is the third generation shop owner of a string of beef noodle restaurants. He gets into a minor fender bender with the hard working, yet outwardly mean Deborah (Cheng). The two engage in an ill-tempered spat which makes both characters seem completely unlikable. Meeting later to negotiate a truce, the two end up engaging in a one-night stand, but a happy ending is far from possible. Tung is linked to high-maintenance TV personality Mindy (Niki Chow of Feel 100% II), and Deborah is about to encounter a fitting fall from grace. Thanks to her mean-spirited behavior, she loses her job, her home (she and her father have a spat), and possibly her self-respect.
Deborah and Tung encounter each other at the hospital, where Tung is visiting his mother and Deborah is staying (as in sleeping on the floor) with her sister. Tung offers to let her freshen up at his home, but she ends up sleeping on the couch for a short period of time. Tung's extremely weird family seems against Deborah; they tout Mindy's positive points at every given chance. However, Deborah wins Tung's trust and even affection thanks to her newly-humbled, hard-working manner and that one inexplicable quality: chemistry.
Joe Ma really leans on his stars to carry this feather-weight comedy, and for the most part he succeeds. Tung and Deborah's romance seems oddly real in its starts and stops, stuttering communication, and moments of quiet affection. Cheng and Leung make a believable, likable couple, though apart they seem to be complete nightmares. Leung turns in a restrained performance that plays to his talent for subtlety. For Cheng, this is a definite change of pace. Deborah is not an inherently likable character, and she most definitely is not the sweet, winning girl that Cheng so often plays. Though Deborah's personality turnaround seems quick, Cheng does manage to make the entire character seem somewhat real and even sympathetic.
On the other hand, the story makes little sense. Deborah and Tung's romance is surrounded by a strange plotline consisting of chicanery at Deborah's former job and the manipulative machinations of Mindy. The two plotlines intersect for a climax at a company party, where Mindy and Deborah spar in a contrived verbal duel that swings between the bizarre and the implausible.
Furthermore, the supporting characters make no sense. Tung's family seems to switch allegiances between women rather quickly, and Deborah's former co-workers behave in an inconsistent manner. Fighting for Love works best when Cheng and Leung are alone on the screen together. At those times, you can believe that these two flawed human beings could find some semblance of love. However, considering the rest of the film, the two actors should probably be in another movie entirely. (Kozo 2001)"