Love Trilogy
Hong Kong 2004
Directed by Derek Chiu.

Three couples travel to Kunming in Yunnan province for various reasons; each representing a different stage in love. Each also represents a different market for the film, thus maximizing profitability. The old timers, married for seven years, are represented by constantly nagging and fighting Francis Ng and Anita Yuen from Hong Kong. Despite the bitterness, brought on more by their poverty than anything else, the couple are engaging and realistic and it's a great pleasure to see Anita Yuen in a film again.

Couple number two are just-married mainlanders Lu Wei and Han Xiao. He's afraid to be tied down, and doesn't want kids. For her part, she just wants to get along and is afraid to tell him she's pregnant. This segment has a very raw emotional finish, but unfortunately offers very little different from the first couple, only the shouting is louder and the stakes are higher. The final segment is the most endearing, as a story about the earliest moments of love -- the falling in part -- should be. A Korean tourist (Oh Ji-Ho) travels to Yunnan with his girlfriend because he read THE LOST HORIZON and wants to visit Shangri-La. His girlfriend is extremely materialistic, so naturally his fantastic vision leaves her pretty cold. When he runs into a guy from a local hill tribe who invites him over for dinner, it's the last straw. She feels the local just wants something from him, he feels it would just be a neat experience. They split, but new love eventually flowers when he hires a tour guide (Ruby Lin) who is always quoting books to take him to Shangri-La. They share a similar vision of the world, and it's heartwarming to see them grow close.

Two much shouting for the first two acts of the film make watching LOVE TRILOGY a lot less involving and entertaining than the filmmakers hoped. It is an auditory relief that the characters in the third segment do not speak the same language so they often remain silent or use short sentences. It's less of a relief when they speak their one common language, English, to each other -- English as a second language is almost always grating to a native speaker's ears, and this is no exception. The inflection and tone we might expect from what is normally considered "good acting" is entirely absent. The rate of speech is also much slower than what we normally have the patience for. It is a testament to the two young actors that we are involved in their story anyway.

Kunming is an interesting new location for a Hong Kong film. The city has been repositioned in recent years and is now a popular vacation spot for mainlanders. It is called the "City of Flowers" and has lots of them. Various other artificial tourist environments have been built up as well. In addition to these fabricated tourist traps, the city is nearby a number of really beautiful natural wonders, such as the Stone Forest which is featured in the second segment of the film. And so LOVE TRILOGY, while not an excellent movie, makes a pretty good tourist brochure. I would definitely like to visit, one day. I just hope there aren't a bunch of bickering, bitter couples around when I get there.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on December 27, 2004.

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