Bored wives and mistresses, a roving postman and a missing person reported by a young girl with a voyeuristic bent unfortunately all don't add up to an entertaining mix. Stephen Tan reviews.


Before Cherie Chung became a fan favourite among cinema-goers with An Autumn's Tale, Spiritual Love, Peking Opera Blues and John Woo's Once A Thief, Chung did a number of Shaw movies which capitalised on her good looks and, more importantly, her sensuality.

While Hong Kong, Hong Kong (1983) paired her with Alex Man, it was her sex scene with the ageing Kwan Hoi San that provided the bite. Angie Chan's Maybe It's Love (1984) might be an attempt to cash in on Chung's rising popularity and the movie's posters and trailers do not shy away from the fact that this is a film filled with sex and nudity. But like Hong Kong, Hong Kong, there is no frontal nudity though the film does make good with its intimations of sex.

Dancer Chung is a bored mistress of the rich Stuart Ong and lives in a grand bungalow in the outback. She looks as if she spends her time between doing aerobics (a popular fad in the '80s for those old enough to remember) and dance exercises and jumping into bed with Ong who visits periodically. After an accidental meeting with postman Ken Tong, she then adds the postman to her list of things and people to do.

In the same village, the elderly Ku Feng, who makes a living selling paper offerings (for the dead and the gods), has taken on a Mainland bride, Elaine Chin. But Chin is already bored with village life and longs for another man (she is the roving sort) and a chance in the city. It then comes as no surprise that she willingly gives herself to the postman as well. For Tong, the relationship is another one of his flings but for Chin, it can well be her ticket out of the boondocks.

Tong then incurs Chin's wrath when he ditches her for Chung and ends up being blackmailed by Chin. A violent confrontation between Chung and Chin one night ends with Chin missing the next day. The confrontation is witnessed by young cripple Hsu Ke-ying (though she cannot identify the people involved) and whose imagination leads her to deduce that various villagers are behind Chin's disappearance.

While never sleazy, the first half of Maybe It's Love looks like an adult version of numerous TV melodramas - the rich man, the bored mistress, various third parties - plus the money shot - the sex scenes that are tantalising but never fully revealing.

With the introduction of the missing person (and presumed murder), the film then takes a different turn, venturing into what is probably Nancy Drew territory with a nod to Hitchcock's Rear Window. Young Hsu Ke-ying may not be wheelchair bound but like James Stewart, she is a cripple and has a voyeuristic touch - she is constantly spying on her surroundings through her binoculars - and the second half of Maybe It's Love is wholly predicated on what she sees through her lenses. But having Hsu lead all the village kids in a murder hunt stretches things a bit too far.

Putting a child in the centre of the movie already gives the game away - there might be thrills here and there, the child might be in danger but there is no way they are going to kill the child. As a result, Maybe It's Love winds its way down predictably only for director Angie Chan to throw in a lame comment about women filmmakers (which would have been great had it been reflexive but it is not) and a cameo by Alex Man in the closing sequence.

Competently acted and presented, Maybe It's Love is the kind of movie that tries to attract both the erotic-movie crowd as well as the Happy Ghost crowd. However, it is not a happy mix - the sex is hardly enough to satisfy the former and probably a big turn off for the latter who are likely to be more interested in comic-book romance than seeing their favourite stars play musical beds.

Note: The Maybe It's Love (IVL/Celestial) DVD is banned in $ingapore.

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January 30, 2007

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