Starring: Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi, Kwon Sang-woo, Jing Tian, Sphinx Ting Chun-cheng
Director: Calvin Poon Yuen-leung
Category: I (Cantonese)
Two Cecilia Cheungs for the price of one may sound like a bargain, but the singer-actress' dual roles in this romantic mush add up to little more than zero. This is because Shadows of Love displays a degree of artifice that with just a bit of tweaking could easily qualify as the most delicious spoof of 2012.
That is, if director Calvin Poon Yuen-leung and co-scriptwriter Qin Wen had an inkling of their treatment's inherent phoniness and funniness. Three, or perhaps four, amorous romps are in play, mostly centring on a spoiled tycoon's daughter non-ironically named Paris (Cheung) and her bubbly working class look-alike, Qin Xin (also Cheung). Hunky Korean CEO Quan (Korean superstar Kwon Sang-woo, above with Cheung) conveniently discovers the latter when the former disappears just as a company power struggle erupts due to the machinations of a stereotypically villainous board member (Cheng Taishen). Qin is a flower seller who must be versed in upper-crust ways so as to impersonate Paris and save the corporation. It's a premise so ludicrous that it requires the lightest of touches, cleverest of scripts, and most charismatic of actresses to pull it off.
It is painfully evident from early in the film that these three qualities are about as likely to materialise as Paris (or Qin) attaining a PhD in astrophysics.
Perhaps in an attempt to distract viewers from the insufferably perky florist, there's a meaningless subplot about Paris's cute cousin (Jing Tian) and her tedious pursuit by paragliding socialite Johnny (Sphinx Ting Chun-cheng). They at least are innocuous.
Not so the flashbacks to the second world war and the fraught romance between Qin's Japanese grandmother (Angela Chang Shao-han) and her Chinese inamorato (Jing Boran), scenes that are objectionable for their historical inaccuracies and trivialisation of a harrowing era.
Though the title refers to penumbra, the picture is all shiny surfaces. The cast is certainly one of the year's most physically attractive and the production splurges in its top rate art direction, costume design, and cinematography.
Unfortunately, their combined technical efforts fail to conjure up even a wispy shadow of that thing called love.
Shadows of Love is screening now