Basic Love 愛情故事 (2009) – Hong Kong

An average film with some decent performances…

Review by Neo: Without being a total pessimist, the latest directorial effort from Oxide Pang is really an average one. It is also the first time that Oxide is working without his brother Danny either as a co-director or producer. Going alone allows Oxide Pang to venture away from the ghostly/horror genre that the Pang brothers are now so famous for. However, going into a genre that is already filled with clichés of youth romances and coming of age dramas is not exactly going to light anything on fire. Likewise, Oxide is unable to instil a fresh feeling, but luckily, as with most of his films, Pang have a great eye for things and his show not tell principle do provide the audience with something to follow, even if it is at times rather blend and predictable. With that being said, newcomers Elanne Kong and Janice Man both turn in their best performances of their short careers and for that, it can only be a credit to director Oxide for giving them the room in fulfulling that potential.

The story is basically about two girls and one guy. As predicted, one of the girls like the guy and the guy somehow like the other girl. Then as the way things are and along the lines of many Japanese, Korean and Hong Kong romance dramas, the girl will have some sort of terminal disease. There you go, I can and should stop right there, before I make the movie even more predictable than it already is.

Elanne Kong, mostly recently seen in TVB series, EU put on a career best performance, as the girl who has cancer. Kong is not exactly pretty, her nose structure is a bit too big and her face does not have a natural look about it. However in this film, she performs best when she have no makeup on and the scenes that show her illness getting worse and worse are perhaps the most convincing and engaging. With some fine tuning, Kong can develop into something, but it remains to be seen if her hyper “over the top” cute voice can be a detrimental to the path of some more serious roles in the future. Likewise, Janice Man looks prettier than usually and impresses me for the first time. To be honest, I hardly noticed Man’s presence in See You in YouTube and here, she is given a far more juicer and difficult role than her counterpart. The way she handles the unacquainted love is worthy of complementation, and at times her willingness to pursuit portray a character that is far more humane for the audience to relate towards. Sorry, Kong, of the two girls, it can be safe to say that Man shows far more potential in her role and hopefully, it will be a platform for more trains to come.

Unfortunately, the leading male star (Rex Ho Chun-Wai) disappoints big time. Firstly, Rex does not look good enough to justify the pursuit of both Man and Kong. Secondly, Rex looks more like a girl than a guy. Thirdly, the film correctly stated one thing; Rex does look a bit like Taiwanese super idol Raine Yang. The problem here is not Rex, it is rather the casting director or the director who decided to cast him. Rex rarely displays any acting chops and his presence only adds to the woes of the film rather than helping it in any way or manner. Slack as it seems, but Rex is no match for Janice Man and Elanne Kong, as both seems to be miles ahead of him and adding to the lure of problems is that there is no chemistry. That’s a big fat shame, considering this is meant to be a tearjerker, with the audience trying their hardest to relate to the characters.

All in all, Oxide Pang have created once again a film that does not bore, but nor does it excites. The film is surely assisted by some fine tune performances from Janice Man and Elanne Kong, but ultimately let down by the weak link of the trio, in Rex Ho, who is not only unable to convince but have next to zero charisma or chemistry with the two leading ladies. At the end of day. it is ultimately the director’s fault for not trying something different. Sure, Oxide is diverging from horror to romance, but in the evidence of this, it is perhaps more assume knowledge to say the least that Oxide is far more suited in the fantasy world of horror/thriller than coming of age-youth romance. Then again, the film is called Basic Love, and Oxide Pang has certainly sticked to the basics and nothing more … (Neo 2009)

I rate it 5/10

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