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5 Best Chinese Romance Movies Of Our Time


Date Posted: 04 September 2014


Which is your pick? "Café Waiting Love" (left) or "But Always" (right).

It's a double dose of cinematic romantic moments for the Chinese cinema this time of the year with Taiwan's "Café Waiting Love" (28 August) and China-Hong Kong's "But Always" (4 September). First up, it's the highly-anticipated romantic comedy "Café Waiting Love", which is touted as writer Giddens Ko's second instalment of his love trilogy after the critically-acclaimed "You Are the Apple of My Eye" back in 2011. "Café Waiting Love" features a trio of fresh young talents featuring Vivian Sung, Marcus Chang and Bruce as well as Hong Kong veteran actress, Vivian Chow who makes a comeback after 2010's "All About Love".


(L-R) Marcus Chang and Vivian Sung in the scene from "Café Waiting Love".

(L-R) Gao Yuanyuan and Nicholas Tse gets romantic in the scene from "But Always".

Moviegoers can also get another dose of romance with Snow Zou's "But Always", a heartbreaking romantic drama starring Gao Yuanyuan and Nicholas Tse, which is particularly notable as his comeback to the romantic genre after spending a decade playing mostly action-oriented roles.

In conjunction with the release of "Café Waiting Love" and "But Always", and before you decided which is your pick, let's go back to recap our handpicked selections for the 5 Best Chinese Romantic Movies Of Our Time:

1. "C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri" (1993)

(L-R) Lau Ching-Wan and Anita Yuen in a scene from "C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri".

Hong Kong's answer to the classic Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal's "Love Story" (1970), "C'est La Vie, Mon Cheri" (which simply means, "That's life, my love") was one of the most popular romantic tearjerkers ever made for Chinese cinema back in the '90s. A big winner at the Hong Kong Film Awards (six wins, to be exact), this movie was also notable for boosting the career of actors Lau Ching-Wan and Anita Yuen, as well as director Derek Yee.

The cast was top notch, with both Lau Ching-Wan and Anita Yuen (who won Best Actress for her heartbreaking performance as the leukemia patient) being the movie's star attraction. Derek Yee's direction was equally solid, balancing between the movie's first half that concentrates on the celebration of life and the second half's downbeat tone once Anita Yuen's character suffers from the same illness again after years of battling leukemia successfully.

2. "Comrades, Almost A Love Story" (1996)

Leon Lai and Maggie Cheung in the famous bicycle scene from "Comrades, Almost A Love Story".

Prior to the record-breaking 12 awards that Wong Kar-Wai's "The Grandmaster" won at this year's Hong Kong Film Awards, Peter Chan's romantic drama "Comrades: Almost A Love Story" used to hold the most record wins with 9 awards. Leon Lai and Maggie Cheung were great as two would-be lovers enduring through a series of hardships and twisted fates, while Peter Chan's direction was undeniably affecting for his poetic touch of old-fashioned romance that evoked a sense of time and place where the story took place in the space of 10 year period beginning in 1986.

"Comrades, Almost A Love Story" was, of course, best known for the iconic bicycle sequence where Maggie Cheung sang the late Teresa Teng's signature tune of "Tian Mi Mi" while hitching at the back of the ride with Leon Lai.

3. "In The Mood For Love" (2000)

(L-R) Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai in a scene from "In The Mood For Love".

One of the best movies from one of Hong Kong's renowned auteurs, Wong Kar-Wai, "In The Mood For Love" was an internationally-acclaimed romantic drama blessed with two impeccable performances from the suave-looking Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and the elegant Maggie Cheung (who looked particularly stunning in a body-hugging cheongsam). Beautifully directed with great restraint by Wong Kar-Wai, "In The Mood For Love" embraced an unconventional approach that defied the typical romantic-movie formula by making the two lead actors rarely connect physically with each other but yet the suggestively intimate moments remained deeply felt.

Working together with frequent cinematographer Christopher Doyle, the movie was gorgeously framed with excellent use of colour, tight shots and low lighting. In fact, Doyle's mesmerizing cinematography managed to turn background shots such as alleys, stairways and cramped offices into something uniquely breathtaking which suggests that beauty and love can also be found in the most unexpected places.

4. "You Are The Apple Of My Eye" (2011)

(L-R) Michelle Chen and Ko Chen-Tung in a scene from "You Are The Apple Of My Eye".

This was the movie that famously dethroned Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle" (2004) and became the highest-grossing movie in Hong Kong's cinema history. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by prolific Taiwanese author Giddens Ko, who also made his promising directorial debut here, "You Are The Apple Of My Eye" was an enjoyable and heartfelt coming-of-age youth drama that made then-unknown Taiwanese actors Michelle Chen and Ko Chen-Tung (Kai Ko) into household names.

5. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (2011)

(L-R) Gao Yuanyuan and Daniel Wu in the scene from "Don't Go Breaking My Heart".

Love triangles are nothing new for the romantic genre, but director Johnnie To and his regular Milkyway production crew managed to spin the familiar tale with a refreshing twist for the innovative romantic comedy, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart". The movie was especially notable for its high-concept premise (a concept that actually been done before in a 2008 short film called "Signs") where the three main stars (Daniel Wu, Louis Koo and Gao Yuanyuan) show their affection by signaling to each other through office windows with Post-It notes, written messages and other various gestures.

No doubt their wordless flirtation between each other was among the highlights of the movie. Special kudos also goes to Mainland actress Gao Yuanyuan for her bubbly and wonderful performance. The script was both witty and entertaining, while Johnnie To deserved equal credit for making this romantic comedy as visually engaging as he did with his crime genre.

"Café Waiting Love" and "But Always" is now playing in cinemas.

Writer: Casey Chong





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