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Beijing Love Story
Beijing Love Story

Tong Liya and Chen Sicheng find love in Beijing.
Chinese: 北京愛情故事  
Year: 2014
Director: Chen Sicheng
Producer: Gillian Zhao, Abe Kwong Man-Wai, Cary Cheng, Li Yaping
Writer: Chen Sicheng

Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Carina Lau Ka-Ling, Wang Xuebing, Yu Nan, Chen Sicheng, Tong Liya, Wang Qingxiang, Siqin Gaowa, Liu Haoran, Hai Yitian, Nana Ouyang, Elaine Kam Yin-Ling, Geng Le, Guo Jingfei, Wang Zhifei

  The Skinny: Suitably entertaining collection of five crisscrossing romances in cosmopolitan Beijing – with a detour to Greece. Nothing exceptional happens here, but there are familiar emotions and a decent collection of actors headed by the frisky and fun pairing of Carina Lau and Tony Leung Ka-Fai.
by Kozo:

Romance anthology Beijing Love Story doesn’t aim high and hits its reachable target with agreeable finesse. Director-writer-star Chen Sicheng adapts his own China television drama for this passing glance at love and its joys, sacrifices and assorted minutiae, featuring five pairs of actors each getting their own “love in the big city” story. The couples intersect with each other in clever ways, but few of the stories dig that deeply into the characters or situations. These are snapshots only – though to be fair, the film doesn’t have the time to do much with each couple – and the familiar ideas, uncomfortable truths and soaring feels may be enough to make Beijing Love Story worthwhile. Love in little doses can be a treat.

Each of the film’s stories depicts a different situation and stage of love. Chen Sicheng kicks things off as Chen Feng, a poor architect who never combs his hair and apparently owns only one shirt. Nevertheless, he enters into a love-at-first-sight romance with his dream girl, the beautiful Shen Yan (Chen’s real-life spouse Tong Liya). Her mother and her super-rich ex (Geng Le) doubt their longevity, however. Meanwhile, Chen Feng’s friend Wu Zheng (Wang Xuebing) is a regular player despite being faithfully married to Zhang Lei (Yu Nan) – an arrangement that’s threatened when Zhang Lei cracks his mobile and finds incriminating photos. Incensed, she seeks her own tryst.

The couple has a connection to Liu Hui (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), who’s in the midst of jetting to Greece for a secret rendezvous with the elegant Jia Ling (Carina Lau). Bur lusty romance soon turns to squabbling for the two. Meanwhile, Liu Hui’s daughter Li Xingyang (Nana Ouyang) wants to appear on a TV talent show, but is forbidden. However, smitten-by-puppy-love classmate Song Ge (Liu Haoran) offers to be her benefactor. Finally, elderly Gao Xia (Siqin Gaowa) wishes to find a life partner for the aging Wang Daqi (Wang Qingxiang). She seems to find a perfect match in the sophisticated Xue Aijia (Elaine Kam), but there may be more to the situation than meets the eye.

The film opens in media res with a sudden event that hints at tragedy, and yet it never really trends in that direction. The opening instead becomes an alternate ending in this pseudo-existential grab bag of love stories where every situation is meant to reflect an aspect of love and its myriad possible outcomes – how very postmodern of the filmmakers! Beijing Love Story is occasionally too cloying in its exploration of love, and despite occasional surprise, audience expectations remain unchallenged. The plot twists are merely clichés subverting other clichés from this well-worn genre. Those looking for originality or revelation would be hard pressed to find it here.

However, what’s left is quite watchable. Themes are familiar but pleasing, Beijing is the perfect densely -populated cosmopolitan space, and the actors are way above par. Chen Sicheng and Tong Liya are comparatively weak (he overacts, she’s a fantasy construct), but Wang Xuebing is a charismatic heel and Yu Nan plays wounded so very well. Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Carina Lau bring scene-stealing energy to their roles, with Lau coming out on top with an especially sharp, smart performance. Youngsters Nana Ouyang and Liu Haoran bring fresh-faced appeal and seniors Siqin Gaowa, Wang Qingxang and Elaine Kam anchor the whole thing admirably. While not a special film, Beijing Love Story does enough well to be worth the time and effort spent. (Kozo 4/2014)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Vicol Entertainment Ltd. (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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