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Shadows of Love

Shadows of Love

Cecilia Cheung and Kwon Sang-Woo in Shadows of Love.

Chinese: 影子愛人  
Year: 2012  
Director: Calvin Poon Yuen-Leung
Producer: Stanley Kwan Kam-Pang, Allen Tan
Writer: Calvin Poon Yuen-Leung, Wendy Qin
Cast: Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi, Kwon Sang-Woo, Jing Tian, Angela Chang, Jing Boran, Sphinx Ting, Cheng Tai-Shen, Gong Hai-Ming, Lu Yuan, Richard Ng Yiu-Hon, Tien Niu
The Skinny: Not bad enough. Quality-challenged Cecilia Cheung and Hi, Fidelity perpetrator Calvin Poon should have made Shadows of Love a histrionic howler, but the resulting tripe is only below-average romantic fantasy. Fans of Kwon Sang-Woo may be happy simply because he appears.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Cecilia Cheung continues her streak of unimpressive films with Shadows of Love, a romantic drama version of The Prince and the Pauper with some comedic elements thrown in. Cheung plays two roles: super rich, super bitchy heiress Paris and her simple, sweet doppelganger Qin Xin. When Paris goes missing while on a business trip to Korea, her boyfriend and colleague Kwon Jung-Hoon (Korean star Kwon Sang-Woo, wielding an arsenal of moist, ardent gazes) gets stuck in a TV drama predicament. If Paris doesn’t show up within a few weeks, her evil Uncle Dong (Cheng Tai-Shen) will wrestle control of their company KNC from Paris and her ailing father. Luckily, Jung-Hoon runs into florist Qin Xin while driving on the highway. After some mistaken identity hijinks, Jung-Hoon recruits Qin Xin to take Paris’ place to fool Uncle Dong and save the company. Naturally, a love triangle forms between Jung-Hoon and the two Cecilia Cheungs. From films to television to questionably tasteful fan fiction, these are storylines that you’ve seen before.

The twist? There is none, except Cecilia Cheung is paired with K-drama icon Kwon Sang-Woo, plus they give Cheung’s Qin Xin character a superpower that allows her to sense bad stuff happening. Call it the “Cecilia Sense” or maybe “That Gitchy Feeling”, the power was inherited from Qin Xin’s grandmother (Lu Yuan), who occasionally appears to tell stories of her youth, when she was played by singer Angela Chang and met Qin Xin’s grandfather (Jing Boran). The flashbacks are actually fairly diverting, telling the tale of a culturally-difficult romance between a Japanese-raised Chinese girl and a full-on Chinese national in wartime China. However, the flashbacks feel mostly extraneous, only connecting to the present as generational proof of the Cecilia Sense and as support for the maxim that “it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” That tired pearl of wisdom is offered near the film’s climax, so I may have spoiled the movie and/or your next trip to a Hallmark store.

Superficially, Shadows of Love does its job. It’s got a commercial premise, a pair of good-looking stars, some good-looking supporting players (Jing Tian and Sphinx Ting as Paris’ cousin and dance instructor, respectively), high-class art direction and costume design, plus Richard Ng as Paris’ forgetful butler - and you know, every film could use Richard Ng. What the film doesn’t have is the type of smart filmmaking that can raise commercial tripe into something rewarding. Director Calvin Poon, who last made the hilariously terrible Hi, Fidelity, doesn’t create a consistent tone, swinging between hammy melodrama and silly sitcom antics. Performances are cartoonish but appropriate. Cheung makes a convincing Mistress of the Universe, and while her Qin Xin persona may annoy those who follow her tabloid exploits, she eventually convinces of her sweetness and innocence too. Of all the actors, Kwon Sang-Woo arguably delivers the most effective performance because it’s exactly what his fans want. Unfortunately, everything is dragged down by cute antics and poor development.

There’s too much going on in Shadows of Love, and much of it is needless. The flashbacks are more plentiful than necessary, Jing Tian and Sphinx Ting’s side romance is barely developed, and Qin Xin’s florist shop friends (led by the annoying Tien Niu) get their own clichéd subplots. Most characters and situations are introduced via internal monologues by Qin Xin or Jung-Hoon accompanied by pace-killing freeze frames, and in the first half hour this occurs nearly twenty times. The storytelling device simply underlines how overstuffed the whole film is. Shadows of Love could have benefitted from less script and better storytelling, or perhaps more over-the-top craziness. At some points, the film does go overboard; Sphinx Ting’s character bizarrely makes his entrances via hang glider, and Qin Xin has a strange psychotic moment where she verbally abuses herself in the mirror. These “What the-?” moments are not consistent, but they do channel the kind of trashiness that made Hi, Fidelity into an inadvertent howler. Shadows of Love could use some of the same badness. As is, it’s just bad. (Kozo, 2012)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Panorama (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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image credit: Golden Scene

   
   
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