Fighting for Love (2001)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2008-06-06
Like its more ancient cousin tragedy, romance has meant many things to dramatists and audiences over the centuries. “Fighting for Love”, despite the best efforts from its winsome cast, doesn’t fill any of the definitions of romance—nor is it funny. It is quite mean spirited with a very cynical view of relationships with some of the outright cruelty that characterized, for example, the city plays of Ben Jonson such as “Volpone” but with none of the satirical sparkle of the English renaissance master. It is a malicious mess.

The main victim is Mindy who spends most of the movie out of sight. Mindy is a minor pop star who has a posse of fans who follow her everywhere and who is guilty only of being utterly in love with Veg Chiang. Chiang is a bit of a cipher, content to drive her around but finds something missing in his life. He is surrounded by several siblings and his mother, none of whom are anything but annoying. Chiang’s response to his feeling of ennui is working too much, drinking too much and road rage. Deborah Fok, who Sammi Cheng succeeds in making into a dreadfully unlikable character, clips his car with hers during one of Chiang’s manic drives. This is the first “meet cute” between them and results in a police officer (after Chiang has broken his toe kicking Deborah’s parked car) telling them to figure things out themselves. Chiang tells Deborah to show up at midnight at the clubhouse where “Gut Lee” meets. Thinking Gut Lee is a triad faction she enlists the help of lawyer who recruits a cop who specializes in gangs. It turns out that Gut Lee is a restaurant that sells bull organ soup and the guys from the eatery are getting together to drink themselves into insensibility and decide who gets to leave with the hooker that is part of the crowd. After both of them get drunk Chiang and Deborah wind up at Deborah’s apartment waking up in her bed.

The response of the two of them is telling. Chiang just wants to get out of there as soon as he can and tries to sneak away without awakening Deborah. She wakes up with a smile of morning after satisfaction following their night of lovemaking. For Chiang it was a dumb mistake to be put behind him as quickly as possible while Deborah is now in love. Gee, just like in the movies.

The other side of Deborah is shown by the way she mercilessly bullies, harasses and belittles the rest of the staff at the company that employs here. She is a horrible person, going out of her way to attack those who can’t hit back at her and digging into their most vulnerable points. It is clear that the people who work for her both fear and loathe her and if one of them pushed her out of a window it would be fitting. It turns out that she isn’t the boss, though, more an office manager or second in command. She comes into work one day to find the locks to her office door changed and her boss waiting to meet with her. He blames her for negotiating a deal that is costing the company a lot of money, a deal that the boss’s wife actually put together. Deborah is summarily fired, much to the barely suppressed glee of her former office mates.

The rest of the movie is a very standard and not terribly done mashup of attraction/avoidance between her and Chiang in which she goes to work for him, makes stupid mistakes that almost puts him out of business and then helps him to save the day. It isn’t interminable but it is really, really long. Part of the mutual bonding has Deborah moving into Chiang’s family home and sleeping on a couch. His brother, sisters, sister-in-law and mother variously decide that they hate her or love her but never do so convincingly or wittily.

Mindy returns from her tour and is immediately aware of the difference in Chiang. She is beautiful (Niki Chow), talented, wealthy and secure. She loves and wants to marry Chiang, something that has been in the works for quite a while. Since he is an angry, confused although rich lout he decides that he would prefer to spend his life with a woman with who foreplay is splitting a case of beer.

There are some nice moments in “Fighting for Love” but that’s all they are, quick glimpses of real wit and talent that is largely wasted here.
Reviewer Score: 2