Lavender
UNIVERSE
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Ip Kam-Hung
Year:
2000
Run Time:
102 mins
Producer: Universe
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, Mandarin 5.1
Subtitles:
Chinese (S&T), English
W/S Subtitles:
No
Ratio:
1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Region:
NTSC 0
Genre:
Romance / Comedy
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MOVIE
5/10

Ok, so I admit it - I like romantic comedies.
I know, I know...I'm a bloke: I should only enjoy watching John Woo blood 'n' bullet ballets or Sammo Hung kicking seven shades of s**t out of his stunt crew.
But no, sometimes only a good rom-com will do, and so with that in mind I decided to pick up Ip Kam-Hung's 'Lavender'.

Sitting in her bath, contemplating life without the one she loves, Athena (Kelly Chen) is visited by Angel
(Takeshi Kaneshiro).
As his name implies, the winged man that crashes through her skylight is in fact an Angel of Happiness, sent plummeting to earth after being struck by lightning.
Athena allows Angel to stay with her as his damaged wing recovers in return for his cooking and cleaning skills.
An Aromatherapist by trade, Athena drags Angel to work with her one day, which proves a big hit with her group of students.
However, she gradually begins to find that it is no longer her boyfriend's scent she pines for, but Angel's...

This unashamedly syrupy offering from 2000 rarely reaches the standards set by Anna Magdelana, or for that matter, your average romantic comedy.
The chemistry between the two actors borders on non-existent for much of the running time, and it's only with the film's final twist that the pair seem genuinely attracted to one another.
Also, the overly-quirky nature of Athena's Aromatherapy students begins to irritate as do Kelly Chen's over-the-top waterworks.
These jarring elements are given some sort of explanation at the film's conclusion, but not in a particularly satisfying, or convincing, manner.

If the film has one genuinely affecting moment, it is the scene in which Cheng Pei-Pei's Aromatherapy student speaks to Athena of her first love. It's possibly the least extravagant scene, which runs for little more than a few minutes, but it gives a glimpse as to what the film could have been had more subtly been exercised.

The movie's ending is nicely played, and the variety of musical influences used throughout adds to the enjoyment, but overall this contains neither enough romance or comedy to really pull on the heartstrings.

PICTURE
8/10

Having been spoilt by Hong Kong Legend's extensive print restoration, I was somewhat concerned as to whether Universe's transfer would impress me.
Thankfully, the print's condition is excellent, with only a couple of sparkles and nicks appearing over the running time.
A pleasing amount of detail is contained within the transfer, with only a couple of scenes looking slightly soft. Also, whilst some colour bleeding is evident, the film's warm cinematography is very nicely reproduced.

The two aspects which let the transfer down are the very mild, but frequent, artifacting and some occasional smearing.

SOUND
8/10

Filmed in synch-sound and originally presented in Dolby Surround, the Dolby Digital remix is very subtle, with little activity from the rear speakers.
The front speakers handle music, dialogue and sound effects extremely well throughout. No crackles or muddying of the soundtrack is evident.
A conservative, but excellent, Dolby 5.1 mix.

SUBTITLES
7/10

A generally well-translated, and transcribed, set of English subtitles are provided by Universe, with only some recurrent minor spelling mistakes causing problems.
One irritating and inexplicable aspect of the subs are the frequent misplacement of full-stops, which often occur mid-sentence.

EXTRAS
4/10

Two interesting, though short biographies for Takeshi Kaneshiro and Kelly Chen are included on the disc, alongside the theatrical trailer and trailers for 'Skyline Cruisers', 'Marooned' and 'Summer Holiday'.

CONCLUSION
6/10

Visually and sonically, Ip Kam-Hung's movie is quite impressive.
However, the film's greatest flaw is not one of style, but substance. The character's rarely, if ever, captured the imagination or heart of this viewer, making the experience a lonely one.
Because of this, I can only recommend it to massive fans of the leads, as to many viewers this romantic comedy will seem closer to a tragedy...

MOVIE 5/10
PICTURE
8/10
SOUND
8/10
SUBTITLES
7/10
EXTRAS
4/10
MENUS
6/10
PACKAGING
7/10
OVERALL 6/10