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Esprit D'Amour
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"Hey! No means no!"
Alan Tam and Joyce Ngai
Chinese: 陰陽錯
Year: 1983
Director: Ringo Lam Ling-Tung
Producer: Dean Shek Tin, Karl Maka, Raymond Wong Bak-Ming
Cast: Alan Tam Wing-Lun, Cecilia Yip Tung, Joyce Ngai Suk-Kwan, Philip Chan Yan-Kin, Bill Tung Biu, Billy Lau Nam-Kwong
The Skinny: Somewhat surprising psuedo-trifle from the early-eighties HK film factory. Ringo Lam stuffs his overwrought direction—until the final reel, that is.
by Kozo:

More Ringo Lam before he was Ringo Lam. Jean-Claude Van Damme's best friend directed this early-eighties ghost-romantic-comedy-drama from the Cinema City fun factory. Alan Tam is Ming, a mousy insurance salesman who's whipped by ferocious fiancee Ivy (Cecilia Yip). However, despite his impending nuptials/funeral, he finds the time to fall in love with lovely ghost Siu Yu (Joyce Ngai).

Ming is assigned to investigate Siu Yu's accidental death, which boss Philip Chan wants classified as a suicide (ergo, no insurance payment). However, Siu Yu harangues Ming into getting the payment for her beneficiary, a five year-old neighbor. Not surprisingly, Ming falls for the friendly ghost. But can a ghost and human stay together?

The usual trappings of early-eighties HK Cinema abound here. There's silly comedy, romantic wackiness, and generous portions of overacting courtesy of Alan Tam. However, there's a strangely dark edge to the whole affair, which is telegraphed by the creepy dance performance that opens the film, and all but confirmed by the film's tense final reel. There isn't much rhyme or reason for what happens here; it's just light and happy one moment and then intense and sad the next.

Such emotional betrayal was standard for early-eighties HK fluff, and Esprit D'Amour is most definitely cut from that cloth. This filck is easily-digestible fluff until the final reel, when it gets emotionally overwrought very, very quickly. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and in fact much of early HK Cinema's charm had a lot to do with the wild shifts in tone. Still, it's possible that the emotional flip-flopping could lose less seasoned viewers.

Luckily, Alan Tam and Joyce Ngai are a likable pair, and Ngai displays the charm of a freshly-appointed ingenue. Also, Cecilia Yip does a bang-up job as the evil fiancee, making our sympathy for Tam incredibly easy. Thanks to the good set-up and Lam's solid direction, the film's downbeat feel proves poignant and a little compelling instead of manipulative. This isn't a spectacular film, but classifying it as above-average HK Cinema is more than appropriate. (Kozo 2003)


DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Fortune Star/Deltamac
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks

Removable English and Chinese Subtitles


image courtesy of Mega Star Video Distribution, Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen