花好月圓
Elixir of Love (2004)


Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 08/17/2006
Summary: Something smells fishy...

The Emperor, after siring many male children, longs for a daughter. All his dreams come true when his wife finally gives birth to a female child. But there’s a problem – she stinks to high heaven, and no one can stand to be around her! She is diagnosed with “Atypical Reeking Syndrome” and the condition seems incurable, forcing her to grow up as a bit of a stinker. After an attempt at matchmaking goes horribly wrong (one suitor chooses suicide rather than bear the stench a second longer), the Emperor finally decides that enough is enough and calls upon his kingdom to find a man capable of eradicating the odour once and for all, with the winner to be given the hand of the Princess in marriage. Enter Shum Mong-Kai (Richie Ren), a local commoner with a talent for aromatherapy, who tries out his concoctions on a local girl down at the fish market. Unbeknownst to him, the smelly fish girl is really the Princess herself.

ELIXIR OF LOVE (the Cantonese title of which translates to something like “Flower good, moon round” as far as I can tell) is a standard romantic comedy with an unusual variation in that the female lead has a body odour problem - a twist not yet tried in Hollywood, where the subject appears to be the only taboo left!

The part of Princess Heung (which means “Fragrant” in Cantonese and is probably meant to be ironic) is played by Miriam Yeung. I can’t understand the large amount of hatred Chinese people seem to have towards her – she seems likeable enough, and makes a reasonably good romantic lead. Richie Ren is not someone I’m very familiar with, but again he seems fine. There’s also an almost unrecognisable Kenny Bee in this one too, as the villainous Master Physician.

ELIXIR OF LOVE is quite an inoffensive little film really, despite the large amounts of smell-related jokes on offer (yep, there’s also a few fart jokes in there too!). It’s more likely to give you the odd smile rather than a barrage of belly laughs, but there are one or two jokes that are quite funny. One thing that depressed me a little was the occasional reliance on CGI shots which I thought were totally unnecessary, but that’s the way of the world nowadays, unfortunately.

It’s not going to change the world or give you deep philosophical thoughts, but ELIXIR OF LIFE is a reasonably enjoyable way of using up an hour and three quarters.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: RLM
Date: 11/02/2004
Summary: Airy romantic commedy...

Although Elixir of Love might be a light-weight, and at times a little tongue-in-cheek, commedy, it had my wife smiling all the way through and crying at the end! It made for a great late night cuddle movie.
The story revolves around an ancient kingdom and an emperor who has only sons. The emperor is overjoyed at receiving news that he finally is the father of a princess. However, his joy does not last long; his daughter is born with a disease which causes her to stink! Full of despair, the emperor announces that the man who can cure his daughter will have her hand in marriage. Richie Jen plays a poor local guy who believes that he can cure the disease, but first he must test his concoction (created from fragrant flowers). While searching for a test-subject with foul oder, he stumbles into a fish-selling maid played by Miriam Yeung. This chance meeting totally changes his plans. The two embark on a journey to find a cure for the princess which also leads to discovery of their feelings for each other.
Although the subsequent plot twist is thinly veiled, it was nonetheless charming.
Rated 4/10