Her Tender Love (1969)
Reviewed by: duriandave on 2005-09-23
It is interesting to compare Her Tender Love with Movie-Fan Princess, which was made just three years earlier. Both films feature Connie Chan playing a factory girl and both are tributes to her fans who worked in Hong Kong’s booming manufacturing industry. In fact, Her Tender Love features an amazing song, "Long Live the Factory Girls,” that is oddly similar to the model revolutionary operas being made in the People's Republic of China during the same period. Both films also star sixties heart-throb Lui Kei as Connie’s leading man. Movie-Fan Princess was the debut of their four-year, 25-film screen romance that ended with Her Tender Love.

There is, however, one significant difference between the two films, and it is best exemplified by Connie's hands. In Her Tender Love, they are a major motif. The romance between Connie and Lui Kei is signaled in the beginning of the film when Lui Kei kisses Connie's hands and tells her how pretty they are. Actually—backing up a bit—he first takes her hand after she tries to slap him for playing a joke on her. He then asks how she could hit with such pretty hands and says that they instead should be displayed in a museum for everyone to see. Lui Kei’s words are indicative of Connie’s changing character in the films they made together. In most of Connie’s other films she does use her hands to hit (she wasn’t the sixties queen of action because of her “pretty” hands!) but not in this film. Later, after the two have fled to Hong Kong to get away from their evil brother and after she has worked herself to the bone to support him as he goes to university, he takes her hands again and notices how damaged they are. Although they are no longer beautiful on the outside, they are still beautiful on the inside for all the support they have given him. “Your great hands support my studies,” he declares as he kisses them. What they can’t do, however, is protect Connie from her brother’s lecherous friend who tries to rape her at the end of the film. She does put up a struggle, but it is Lui Kei who saves her in the end. This is a complete turnaround from three years earlier in Movie-Fan Princess, when it is Connie who saves Lui Kei and shows off her fighting skills!

Enough analysis! Although I obviously prefer the Connie Chan of Movie-Fan Princess, I still really enjoyed Her Tender Love. It’s a great romantic melodrama pitched to the perfect intensity. It’s got the kind of villains you love to hate: Connie’s extremely unfilial brother and his despicable friend Valentino Chen. Besides the factory-girl song, there is also a wonderful musical fantasy sequence and some traditional Malaysian dancing. Finally, it should be noted that Her Tender Love is special simply because it is one of only a handful of Connie Chan films that are currently available with English subtitles.
Reviewer Score: 8