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Lavender


Reviewed by: bkasten
Date: 02/04/2007
Summary: Recommended

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Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 08/16/2006

Calling “Lavender” a bad movie would be praising it much too highly. It is a movie in the sense that it is several thousand feet of exposed film but it is largely dully framed and nicely lit shots of extremely attractive people being extremely attractive. Kelly Chen plays Kelly Chen playing a lovelorn aroma therapist while Takeshi Kaneshiro plays Takeshi Kaneshiro playing an angel. There are always problems with depicting disembodied spirits, but in “Lavender” the angel is human in one scene and celestial in the next with not consistency from scene to scene. They weren’t even trying.

Footwear and food are the two main image patterns—other than the whole scent/aromatherapy bit which is more like a sledge hammer pounding things home than an image. The angel loves shoes and acquires scores of pairs but really likes only one pair. Kelly likes to eat—she really loves instant noodles but at the end of the movie is shoveling what looks to be a six egg omelet into her mouth in a couple of bites.

“Lavender” is a romantic comedy that isn’t funny and doesn’t have a trace of human emotion. It does what one would think is impossible, making Hong Kong viewed at night from a few hundred feet in the air look dull. It is little more than a string—a very long string—of shots of the two leads looking gorgeous.

Not recommended.

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 06/18/2002
Summary: YIKES!!

It just shows two stars dont make a good movie. I felt bored watching this, in fact i think i use the fast forward button a lot.

I felt vert little chemistry between the two main stars. And ANGEL as a character was WAY too unrealisitic ( i know it's not suppose to be a realisitic movie)
I find it funny how ANGEL talks a little about religion, about gays can goto heaven and that all they need is love. YIKES someone doesn't read there bible!! As a semi relgious person i found that part a big turn off.

Eason Chan plays a stereotypical gay person and i found him really annoying.

Not much happens in this movie and i feel generous giving this

5/10

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: lemoncola
Date: 05/24/2002
Summary: Heavenly Magic

Lavender stars the very popular multi-talented, multi-lingual and beautiful Kelly Chen and the irresistibly charming Takeshi Kaneshiro.

Takeshi plays an angel (named Angel) who falls down onto Kelly's (Athena's) terrace. In order for Angel to survive, he must receive love from people. Athena is an aromatherapist, and she is heartbroken because her boyfriend who was in police training for the swat team died of a heatstroke and she cannot stop cying.
Angel is trying to help her to get over her deceased boyfriend, but is having a really hard time. Athena won't allow herself to forget her boyfriend and won't allow herself to get to know another person. She comes off as cold as ice, and is very obsessed with trying to mix oils to get the smell of her boyfriend. But she is unsuccessful and cannot get a mixture that smells like her boyfriend.
Another one of her obsessions is, she keeps asking Angel if can bring more stuff to heaven for her boyfriend.

This movie is delightful, charming, sad, and happy. Eason Chan portray's the character Chow Chow who lives next door to Athena. He is gay and lives with a dog, also by the name of Chow Chow. He used to like Athena's boyfriend (Andrew) and now he likes Angel and takes Angel out on the town and do all sorts of wild things together like getting drunk, smoking, dancing at a strip club, going to gay bars, etc. Eason Chan comes off very funny and gives this movie the comic relief it needs.

There is great chemistry between Kelly and Takeshi. They have much better chemistry in Lavender than in Anna Magdalena. They also have good chemistry in the movie Lost and Found, which is another movie I would recommend for those who like seeing Kelly and Takeshi on screen together.

Lavender is a beautiful movie about losing love and finding love. It is also a movie about the need to heal, the need to get on with one's life, the idea that there is hope and even though you cannot control everything in your life, you should live it to the fullest and not dwell on so much of the past.

This movie is a bit of a mix of fantasy and romance and comedy.

I recommend this movie, you should give it a try.


Reviewed by: mejones
Date: 03/22/2002
Summary: Stinky!

No one should EVER be conned into seeing this movie, it's just THAT bad! Okay, first off, concept stolen from the absolutely brilliant Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire, remade as the mediocre American film City of Angels and further destroyed by this HK debacle.

You have Kelly Chen playing a miserable, bitchy, completely loveless and unlovable aromatherapy teacher, constantly in mourning for her dead lover. Unfortunately we don't really learn anything about her past relationship other than that he was a good guy and brave officer who died in the line of duty. The filmmakers just don't give us any reason to care!

Then we've got Takeshi Kaneshiro as an angel, named "Angel" (HA!) who crash lands on her balcony one night. Takeshi spends most of the movie developing a shoe fetish and looking either confused, drunk or dumb. Hard to say which. Plus, the Farrah Faucett hair, sorry, lose it guy!

Lastly, there's Eason Chan as Kelly's gay neighbor who was boyhood friends with her dead boyfriend and obviously loved him just as much as she did. I don't think I'm being completely biased in saying he was really the only watchable part of the film (along with Cheng Pei Pei in a small role as one of Kelly's students). He was funny, silly and also very touching in his scenes where he explains to Angel why Kelly is so sad.

That said, Takeshi's angel needs love in order to survive, heal his broken wing and return to heaven. We're supposed to believe that he falls in love with Kelly, she learns how to love again and everybody lives happily ever after. However, since she spends the whole film making him clean her apartment and bossing him around, shreaking at him and judging him for spending so much time with the gay neighbor, I just didn't buy it! If the film had any courage at all, it would have explored the OBVIOUS fact that Eason ("Chow Chow" HAHAH) was the one person who really DID love Angel and therefore Angel WASN'T starving for love and therefore SHOULD have been just fine without Kelly and her moping!

Okay, rant mode off. It just really sucked and I can't find anything worth recommending in it! Thankfully, I see I'm not completely insane and that most reviewers on HKMDB agree with my assessment! Steer clear!


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 05/27/2001
Summary: Loved it

LAVENDER - Loved it. The basic whole is somewhat incoherent, but the film looks beautiful and is quite moving. I don't know why it's got such a hard time. It's got an angel with a shoe fetish, Kelly Chen with a broken heart and a gay man with an afro. What more do you want from your movies guys? I watched it on VCD, which I'd been fooled into thinking was a DVD by the fancy packaging when I saw it in Chinatown. It's a pretty good quality VCD though, and the packaging really is superb.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: reelcool
Date: 05/12/2001
Summary: Lavender Smells BAD!!!

How they get two talented stars like Kelly Chen, and Takeshi Kaneshiro who were perfect together in "Lost and Found" to make "Lavender", a movie that should be "Lost and Never Found", is a mystery.
Although a good concept, with the Angel (Kaneshiro), and the lonely-heart Kelly, finding one another on earth, the actual film is no fun to watch at all. The two stars have zero chemistry together, bahave as though they are in different movies, and have lines that make them appear passionless as individuals who will somehow fall for one another.
A talent like Kelly is wasted, as she behaves like a raving, "PMS'd out", whiner/nag to the completely unimportant, unfunny, and unintelligible Kaneshiro character.
Good idea, good actors, and even good movie posters, but MAN did this movie stink.


Reviewed by: rocio
Date: 05/10/2001
Summary: Bland

This is basically and SUPPOSED to be a romantic comedy that touches viewers hearts. What I think is terribly wrong with this movie is Kelly's 'fakeful' portrayal of a miserable waman who lost her lover. Lots of things that happen to kelly's character doen's ao can't register with me because it's pointless simply because she can't act. Simple as that. It made the whole movie seem pointless and it left me wondering what the hell is actually happening. She should really buff up her skills esp. in crying scenes. She cries like a kid-literally..
The love scene during the last 10 minutes of the movie is too long and had ruined the romance and had not served its purpose...since it's supposed to be a heart wrenching scene of two soon-to-depart lovers. Too bad..


Reviewed by: Yellow Hammer
Date: 05/10/2001

This romantic comedy was released in HK just in time for Christmas.

Briefly, Athena (Kelly Chen) is a aroma therapy teacher (hence the name of the movie Lavender, which is a prominent scent in the movie) who is void of love. She encounters an angel who falls into her apartment terrace, suprisingly with the name of Angel (Takeshi Kaneshiro). He needs love in order to fly back to heaven. An interesting relationship develops. Also playing roles in the movie are Eason Chan as Chow Chow, a nosy gay neighbor, and Cheng Pei-Pei, fresh off of her Jade Fox role in CTHD, as a student of Athena's seeking to regain her yesteryear youth.

Didn't I see this movie before? It could have been called Anna Magdalena II. To me, the movie jumps around into scenes that leave you wondering why? without answering the questions. As such the movie doesn't have a good flow to it. However, very nice cinematography work with the angel flying part of the movie. Also, a very nice theme song, sung by Kelly Chen. Both are HKFA nominees in their respective categories.


Reviewed by: GenXcops_Jack
Date: 05/04/2001
Summary: could of been good if only they tried, gumbolee wipe the drool off

producion value in the movie was very good. the casting of kelly chen was not a good idea, she did not come across very appealing. takashi did a very good job. but the movie fails because it focused too much on stlye and not enough on charactors and their development. so the move just became stupid instead of being what could of been a classic.
GUMBOLEE needs a man real bad!!! sheez have some dignity! this movie's producion was very good. takashi played his role very well. But the direction and story telling was very weak and CONTRIVED. i can't believe she tries to turn it into a male vs female thing, the facts are clear and self evident. GUMBOLEE wipe the drool off your lips!


Reviewed by: gumblebee
Date: 05/02/2001
Summary: What Women Want

Do not pay attention to the reviews penned by men for this movie if you are female. This is just one of those movies they aren't going to get. Guys would call this a "chick movie" because it to them, corn and baseball fields or men in kilts and blue paint are to swoon over, not some crybaby-aroma-therapy-sensitive-hunk crap.

Okay, so this is a "chick movie" about an angel, Takeshi Kaneshiro, that crash lands on Kelly Chen's terrace. She puts him to work to earn his crust (following the Number 1 Hong Kong commandment: thou shalt make money), while he takes a walk on the wild side with Eason Chan to enjoy more Earthly pleasures. Something's got to change however: Takeshi is an angel who needs love to survive and bereft Kelly is loveless.

The main attraction for chicks is the genetically gifted Takeshi Kaneshiro, a man so astonishingly beautiful, he would make the most bitter divorcee or bull dyke experience heart palpitations (hey, I heard that!). Here we get to see him in pigtails mopping the floor or working his mojo in a striptease number. Heck, I'd watch a six-hour movie of him washing dishes.

And that would be a fine movie if that were all. But there's more. This is an unabashed romantic tear-jerker about the pain of love lost, unattainable love and kismet. Sure, it may not be the best movie in the world - it's highly sentimental, often ridiculous and thin on substance - but it gets you by the heartstrings and plays them for all their worth. While the first half of the movie is is goofy, bordering on slapstick comedy, while the last half turns into a serious weepy.

Extra cheese, please. Kelly and Takeshi did a similar turn in "Lost & Found" and show that they play well off each other. Kelly is stolid and serious, Takeshi goofy and open. Kelly Chen acquits herself admirably and can put to rest those criticisms of wooden acting. Here she's appealing and real. Takeshi's role only requires that he look divine and be dreamy, and he does this quite well. There's a nice turn by Eason Chan who plays the comic relief. Here is a gay role that is funny but not insulting or demeaning. The soundtrack is enjoyable, drawing upon many sources, from children's choirs to pop music.

The difference between the sexes and their movie preferences may not be as great as imagined. Women are no more noble or advanced than men. A movie need not have any redeeming qualities other than a piece of eye candy to drool over.


Reviewed by: rolandyu
Date: 04/21/2001
Summary: Hhmmm.....

Before I watched this movie, I have expected something out of common sense. And to tell you the truth, it is worst than I would expect from such casts.

The story is too simple, common and obvious. Nothing really visual but the message was undelivered due to chaotic plot.

I think the casts plays great, but the story just don't suit them. The ending is not that good neither.

2/5

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: ShinjukuBoy
Date: 04/04/2001
Summary: An Unmistakable Scent

After reading the reviews here first and then finally watching the movie, I agree Lavender fails to deliver. I expected more, however the movie still looks incredible on screen (except for the obvious blue screen shots). Oh and I must not forget the heart-warming soundtrack.

The chemistry between the characters brought a sense of awkwardness. However Kelly's performance was intriguing. I felt for Athena as I have recently lost someone I loved. I think I will release some balloons now.


Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 01/27/2001
Summary: Well, this is a first...

I actually agree to an extent with Jun Yan AND HK's dreaded movie-Grinch Paul Fonoroff? I couldn't be more shocked.

I enjoyed Riley Yip's two previous films, "Love is Not a Game, But a Joke" and "Metade Fumaca." Neither was perfect, and were certainly far from straightforward; "Metade Fumaca" in particular, though, had a lot of interesting characters and situations, attractive photography, and a sense of whimsy. The formula is repeated somewhat in "Lavender," but the whimsy here feels forced; as the review below states, the intent of more than a few scenes is unclear. Takeshi Kaneshiro and the score add to the annoyance of these scenes; both are far too "cute" for their own good.

It doesn't help that much of the film revolves around aroma-therapy, which I consider pretty suspect and hippy-ish.

Still, things aren't all bad. You could hardly ask for a more attractive pair of leads, and it does have attractive locations and photography. While there are some sickeningly cute scenes, things aren't as boring as they could be. Still, when the highlights are appearances by favorite extras Doofy Cop and Bad Skin Guy, you know a movie's in trouble. If nothing else, though, I can at least say that Lavender is much more engaging than the Christmas season's loud and embarrassingly poor action titles. I wouldn't particularly want to watch this movie again, but at least I didn't feel like throwing the VCD across the room like I did when I watched China Strike Force.


Reviewed by: jun-yan
Date: 01/20/2001

Nothing rings true in this fluff meant as a romantic comedy, which is neither romantic nor funny.

Kelly Chen plays yet another yuppy single woman who owns a perfume shop. She cries at night about lost love, but her unhappiness and loneliness are interrupted by an angel (Takeshi Kaneshiro) literally falling from the sky onto her balcony. The viewer is then dragged by force through the remaining hour or so to the predictable ending.

The most frustrating thing for me is not the least the cliches (Cheng Pei-pei's character is a prime example) and the lack of chemistry between the leads. This medical editor is simply tortured by all the bizarre, disconnected, and nonsensical things going on and on -- Why does the angel strip dance and apparently enjoy it? Why is he obsessed about his pair of sneakers? (How spoiled!) Why is he obsessed about shoes in general? Why does he want to seduce Chen? How did Kelly Chen relieve herself hanging in the air? (not a pretty thought) to name a few crazy and unexplanable choices made by the writer/director Ip Kam-hung.

I don't know if Ip thought the disjointed details littered all over the movie were actually moving, cute, or romantic. I find them rather annoying and ridiculous. At least 70% of scenes beg the question: What does this segment try to accomplish? And I can find no answer. Ip has gone over the line from eccentricity to jarring weirdness, for the movie is simply beyond comprehension. Maybe they should have marketed it as a new age surrealist piece of art.

What's more, the movie fails in UFO's tradition of well-written dialogues. The words are forced and painfully false, and often laughable.

Lavender will inevitably be compared to Anna Magdalena, which also contains some fairy-tale elements. Yet it does not compare to AM, for the latter has poignant emotional truth in it -- anyone who has loved can feel the sting in the reflection "There is no justice in love." There is not an iota of emotional truth in Lavender.

I must disagree with Mr. Fonoroff about "the disturbing trend in recent HK cinema" because I have not seen anything like Lavender in HK movies, not to mention a trend. Speaking of UFO's Anna Magdalena and the calculating Fly Me to Polaris in the same breath is grossly unfair. Romantic comedies are always a crowd pleaser with any audience and one of the most basic genre in any movie industry. Shallowness and "cloying sweetness" are the most common side effects of this type, always, and often depends heavily on the viewer's tolerance level for saccharine.

Lavender, unfortunately, is much worse than articificial sweetness, it's a weird pile of mess.


Reviewed by: Paul Fonoroff
Date: 01/12/2001

A disturbing trend in recent Hong Kong cinema is the onslaught of facile romantic dramas, such as Fly Me to Polaris and Anna Magdalena, whose cloying sweetness, bland beauty, and utter shallowness has earned them box office success while at the same time diminishing the cinematic stature of those involved. Lavender reunites the Anna Magdalena duo of singing idols Kelly Chan, whose pretty appearance is unfortunately matched with a grating screen presence, and the equally pretty Takeshi Kaneshiro, a more-than-capable actor when given the opportunity. Lavender gives neither much of a chance to be more than insipid, which evidently is enough to set certain hearts aflutter. More hard-hearted viewers will want to bolt for the exit before the first reel has finished unspooling.

It is the opening minutes that set the tone. Looking like she just stepped out of an Esprit window, a comely aroma therapist (Kelly Chen) carries an orange balloon up the Central Escalator, cries into her lavender-scented bath, and frees the balloon into the air after writing sentimental notes to her dead lover. During a stormy night, a handsome angel (Takeshi Kaneshiro) crashes to earth on her terrace. And for over an hour and a half, the viewer is subjected to half-baked philosophizing about the nature of love devoid of a true sense of wonder or a deep understanding of love. Matters are not helped by the stereotypically gay next door neighbor (Eason Chan), a pathetic but genial buffoon who is supposed to provide comedy relief while the “normal” folk find their hearts’ desire. The dialogue and mannerisms are as self-consciously cute and smug as the situations in which they are placed, a gratingly maudlin musical score over-emphasizing every ersatz emotion.

The movie represents a huge step backwards for writer/director Riley Ip Kam-hung. Though Lavender may ring up more ticket sales than his previous Metada Fumaca and Love is Not a Game, But a Joke, those earlier films—flawed though they may be—attempt to uncover some basic human truths about love and relationships. Lavender may be pretty, but it is as false as the angelic couple’s nighttime swing ride in a Central construction site or their contrived jaunt through a French lavender field.

As if the movie were not already rife with gimmicks, various aromas are emitted throughout the film at selected theatres. The smells were mistimed at the show I attended, but it doesn’t matter. No amount of lavender could mask the stench on screen.

1 1/2 Stars

This review is copyright (c) 2001 by Paul Fonoroff. All rights reserved. No part of the review may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Reviewer Score: 4