Starring: Elanne Kong Yeuk-lam, Chapman To Man-chat, Tien Niu, Zhang Songwen
Director: Herman Yau Lai-to
Category: (Cantonese and Putonghua)
Returning with his third film in six months, Herman Yau Lai-to's latest offering is wildly different from his two previous outings: a biopic on an early 20th-century revolutionary and 21st-century undercover cop thriller.
Devoid of bombastic action scenes or a narrative chronicling a showdown between good and evil, Love Lifting is a drama about an ailing athlete's fight for professional and personal redemption, set mostly in non-descript locations such as a seaside cottage in Hong Kong and a dreary training centre somewhere in Guangdong. Like The Woman Knight of the Mirror Lake and Turning Point 2 Yau's latest film also reveals his fascination with the notion of heroism in increasingly desperate situations.
While Love Lifting doesn't unfold in as dramatic circumstances as either of those earlier efforts, it does place its protagonist at a crossroads in which she finds herself having to give up the sport she has spent her life perfecting due to ill health.
Diabetic mainland weightlifter Li Li (Elanne Kong Yeuk-lam, above) ends up living in a form of solitary self-exile in Hong Kong, using what remains of her physical strength to earn a living in a fish market.
What initially appears to be an appealing premise - one the producers have claimed is based on a real story - is sadly given short shrift as Yau and his team steers the tale towards fluffy, feel-good territory, as Li attempts to regain her bearings in life with the help of Shek Yung (Chapman To Man-chat), a pub owner also trying to recover from the recent trauma of losing both his business and his wife.
It's clear Li's struggle to return to the sport she loves is immense - and the viewer is never left in doubt as to whether she will succeed. But Love Lifting never brings her challenges to life. While it might work in other circumstances, understatement is not the right approach when tackling a story rife with melodramatic turns.
Love Lifting is designed to inspire, but its delivery isn't even engaging enough to serve as a morale booster.
Love Lifting opens on March 22