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Eighteen Springs
|     review         awards     |     availability     | "I saved these coupons for you..."
Wu Chien-Lien and Anita Mui play sisters
Chinese: 半生緣
Year: 1997
Director: Ann Hui On-Wah
Producer: Ann Hui On-Wah, Jimmy Wang Yu
Writer: John Chan Kin-Chung
Cast: Leon Lai-Ming, Wu Chien-Lien (Ng Sin-Lin), Anita Mui Yim-Fong, Ge You, Annie Wu, Huang Lei, Wang Zhiwen
The Skinny: More of a Chinese film than a Hong Kong one, Ann Hui's sad drama is a fitting metaphor but a bad date movie. However. the acting from Wu Chien-Lien and Anita Mui is superb, and the film proves consistently involving.
by Kozo:

Based on a famous novel by Eileen Chang, director Ann Hui’s latest is a fable about class prejudices and the ironies of fate. Wu Chien-Lien is Manjing, whose budding romance to Shijun (Leon Lai) is ill-fated. Among other things, her mother thinks he’s too slow, his parents don’t like her class status, and her sister (Anita Mui) has other plans for her. Anita’s rich husband (Ge You of Farewell My Concubine and To Live) fancies Manjing, and wants to add her to his collection, too (tragedy alert!). 

Eighteen Springs is an interesting but somewhat muted drama. As the subject matter would indicate, the film suffers from “Chinese Film” disease, meaning a frustrating spiral of ill fortune meant to indict the rigid mores of Chinese society. Ann Hui manages to corral the best from her actors and treats the material with a respect bordering on reverence. Anita Mui has a fine star turn here, but appears far too little. The character of Shijun seems written for Leon Lai. He's a subdued, backward man who has problems showing his emotions.

The real star of the film is Wu Chien-Lien, whose performance as the noble, conflicted Manjing is the centerpiece of the film. This is a rare character for any actress to take on, and Wu is affecting and genuine. She was nominated for Best Actress at the 1997 HK Film Awards, but she unfortunately lost to Maggie Cheung in The Soong Sisters. Anita Mui managed to snag the Best Supporting Actress award. (Kozo 1998)

Awards: 17th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Winner - Best Supporting Actress (Anita Mui Yim-Fong)
• Nomination - Best Actress (Wu Chien-Lien)
• Nomination - Best Cinematography (Lee Ping-Ban)
• Nomination - Best Art Direction (Tsui Fung-Nyn, Wong Yan-Kwai)
• Nomination - Best Costume Design (Miu Gwan-Git)
• Nomination - Best Original Score (Yip Siu-Gong)
• Nomination - Best Original Song ("Eighteen Springs", performed by Leon Lai Ming)
4th Annual Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards
• Winner - Best Actress (Wu Chien-Lien)
• Recommended Film
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser Disc Co., Ltd. Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen