Lover's Rock (1964)
Reviewed by: duriandave on 2005-09-27
The most striking quality of Lover's Rock is how different it is from other Shaw Brothers productions of the time. The film starts off as a quiet portrait of a small fishing village on the northeast coast of Taiwan before it turns to the inevitable romance between its stars, a young and ravishing Cheng Pei Pei and the always-slightly-too-pretty Chiao Chuang.

It is the first half that makes Lover's Rock worth watching: the colorful assortment of locals, the documentary-like scenes of village ceremonies, the gorgeous landscape of Yehliu's surreal natural rock formations, and the glimpses of Japanese-influenced Taiwanese culture (as seen in the local bar with its shoji screens and low tables).

The film is less satisfying when it switches to the romance betwee Cheng Pei Pei and Chiao Chuang. Although it was a treat to see Pei Pei in one of her first roles, I couldn't quite understand how she won an award for a performance that consisted of far too much pouting and looking cute. As for Chiao Chuang, although he's perfect in a high-octane urban melodrama like Torrents of Desire, he seems a little out of place in this rural film. It would have been more interesting to develop the relationship between Pei Pei and the rugged Wong Chung Shun.

Although Lover's Rock doesn't live up to its potential, it's still worth checking out, and I am looking forward to seeing writer/director Pan Lei's follow-up, Song of Orchid Island, which reunites him with the lovely Cheng Pei Pei and the natural beauty of Taiwan.
Reviewer Score: 6