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Carina Lau and Charlie Young
Year: 1997
Director: Jacob Cheung Chi-Leung
Cast: Carina Lau Ka-Ling, Charlie Young Choi-Nei, Gua Ah-Leh, Theresa Lee Yi-Hung, Winston Chao, Cher Yeung Suet-Yi, Chin Kar-Lok, Stephen Tung Wai
The Skinny: Affecting, solid women's drama from Jacob Cheung. Featuring terrific performances by Charlie Young and Carina Lau.
by Kozo:
     Jacob Cheung's drama effectively tells two stories, one in the present and one in the past. In the present, Theresa Lee is a single architect with a struggling relationship to boyfriend Winston Chao. Meanwhile, she has to escort her Aunt Foon (Gua Ah-Leh) to Guangzhou to meet an old friend. From there unfolds the past story of young Foon (Charlie Young), who walks the road of the Ji Sau after refusing an arranged marriage. A Ji Sau woman is basically a nun - she cannot marry, and must remain a virgin for the rest of her life. 
     Foon ends up working for rich merchant Chan (Stephen Tung Wai) and befriending his ninth wife, Wan (Carina Lau). Wan is a strong woman. A former prostitute, she marries Chan to leave her sordid past behind. Sadly, Chan disappoints her and barters her in a business agreement. She follows through, but leaves him, finding that only Foon is loyal to her. However, Foon gets into deep trouble when she breaks the rules of the Ji Sau and gets impregnated by her childhood sweetheart (Chin Kar-Lok). The two women find solace in their friendship, and slowly their feelings grow stronger and deeper. 
     A celebration of the strengths of women, this film boasts terrific performances from all the principal actresses. Charlie Young, in particular, is compelling as the young Foon. When viewing her disparate performances in this and Task Force, her retirement seems even more unfortunate. She and Carina Lau make a perfect pair, sensitively creating a relationship that seems universal in its trust and affection. 
     Minor quibbles do exist. While a solid drama, the film doesn't reveal any hidden depths beneath its attractive exterior. Also, there is an unnecessary twist in Gua Ah-Leh’s character and some minor character implausibilites. Worse. a good thirty minutes were edited out when transferring the film to laserdisc and DVD. Hopefully the lost moments clarify some of the jarring narrative jumps. Regardless, Jacob Cheung has crafted a very solid film and it shows even in the edited version. (Kozo 1997)
Awards: 17th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
Nomination - Best Actress (Carina Lau Ka-Ling)
Nomination - Best Supporting Actress (Theresa Lee Yi-Hung)
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.

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