Love Soldier of Fortune (1988)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-11-04
“Love Soldier of Fortune” is a very lightweight romantic comedy with a simple script, competent direction, a winning cast of comedy veterans and very basic, even by Hong Kong standards, below the line items like sets, costumes, hairdressing and makeup. The story revolves around Maggie Cheung, a Hong Kong DJ and the efforts of two men, one a successful singer/songwriter the other a piano tuner, to win her love. The piano tuner is helped by the ghost of his long dead grand-greatuncle who was a successful composer of pop tunes in the past. Based on the furniture, especially an antique looking Victrola type record player in his abandoned house into which Alan Tam moves, Uncle Go was active in the 1940s. He hasn’t lost his touch, though, since he writes songs for his nephew Antonio who sells them to the insufferable musician Lam in order to buy food for Uncle Go. This brand of ghost needs regular nourishment and does very well on large helpings of candles. The songs are hits for Lam who is the other claimant for So See Dai’s heart.

So See Dai has an odd outlook on life and love. On one hand she thinks very highly of innate talent and has already fallen for Lam based solely on the songs that he bought from Alan. Conversely she is very taken with Alan even though his only talent is perfect pitch which he uses in his piano tuning work. This comes out during a disastrous live interview that she does with Alan during which he becomes passionate when discussing how much he suffers when he hears something that is out of tune.

Sandra Ng as Candy brings her uniquely entertaining version of a love and sex starved woman, first going after Alan and then becoming involved—really involved—with a coworker Saridon, memorably underplayed by Nat Chan. Their coupling takes place as part of an extended sequence that has most of the laughs in the film. Uncle Go needs to distract them so he first sends Saridon sprawling. When that isn’t enough he trips, pushes, pokes and nudges Candy and him into a passionate clutch on the couch. He then slides over to the piano, grabs Alan’s hands, moving them to play his latest song. In what might be a parody of a hyper-romantic pianist, Alan’s movements are exaggeratedly large and sweeping. There is the usual now you see him and now you don’t camera work, with the ghost invisible when the camera takes the point of view of a character other than Alan but otherwise visible to the audience.

The lack of attention to (or lack of money spent on) the props, settings and costumes became more obvious as the movie went on. Sandra Ng as a femme fatale on the prowl was dressed in red and black—but looked like she was wearing a scarlet opera cape over a black slip dress, not typical office attire. Maggie was stuck in dull colored sweaters and slacks that looked literally several sizes too large. An outfit like that can look cute once but until the very end it was they way she was dressed in every scene. Fortunately she had a lot of screen filling close-ups which are an essential part of any movie with her—at it is for her fans one of which I am. She was still learning to act during her forced march through a movie every six weeks or so during the late 1980s but the camera never loved her more.

For those interested in ephemera, Maggie’s character said during her radio show that she was 168 centimeters tall and weighed 49 kilograms.
Reviewer Score: 5