Reviewed by: dleedlee
This is a modern remake of the three hundred year old epic novel Dream of the Red Mansions. Grand View Garden is part 1, part 2 is The Tragic Death of Lam Doi-Yuk.
Reviewer Score: 6
Briefly, the version of the novel I read spans five volumes, its the story of two families, Ka (false) and Jiang (real), predominantly women, matriarch, aunts, sisters, cousins, maids. I wont pretend to know more than the superficial aspects of the novel, but Ive heard theres a saying that you dont understand the novel until youve read it at least five times!
In this film, Lam Doi-Yuk, a poor country cousin comes to live with the wealthy Ka family. Doi-Yuk is sickly and morose most of the time. She and male cousin Bo-Yuk love each other, though Bo-Yuk is basically a rooster in the henhouse in the novel and not completely depicted as such here. His love and affection with his maid Ching Man is superficially covered. *spoiler* The film ends after the maid is cast out of the household and dies from grief but not before declaring her love to Bo-Yuk. Sun Ma Sze Tsang sings a length eulogy at her grave to prematurely end part 1.
Another core element of the novel, the money troubles of the Ka family, is somewhat addressed in the film.
Sun Ma Sze Tsang is suprisingly effective as Bo-Yuk and pairs well with Fong Yim Fun as Doi-Yuk. In the novel, Bo-Yuk is more effiminate, but Sun Ma does a nice take by playing more hesitant and indecisive than his normal film persona.
This is version is set in modern (1950s) era. So instead of having poetry writing, painting contests and such they play badmington, cards, mahjong and Chinese checkers. The mansion in its modern guise is at times incredibly opulent. Later, though parts just look like typical sets. One thing Ive noticed in these old 50s films is that they remind me a lot of the look of films from the US 30s. I dont know if its because theres that great a stylistic lag between the two countries or my own misreading of design cues.
I know Ive done a disservice in trying to describe the novel but the video is even worse clocking in at eighty minutes and cutting one song. Though I only vaguely remember the novel, those who havent read it previously might find part 1 somewhat unfathomable and incomplete. I dont think part 2 is even available on video.