Directed By: Pan Lei
Written By Pan Lei
Produced by Sir Run Run Shaw
Cast: Chiao Chuang, Cheng Pei-pei, and Hsang Tsung-hsin
I have to admit; I was initially unsure if I should write a review on this film. I thought it was unremarkable enough not to deserve a review or it wasn’t worth the trouble. But after watching the movie entirely, I felt a desire to review the film. Perhaps, I should state how I came across this film. Similar to what I said in my review of Blue Skies, I felt an inclination to watch this after I had known it started Cheng Pei-Pei: the iconic star of Come Drink With Me for martial art fans. Needless to say, Lovers’ Rock isn’t any type of action film but rather a drama.
The plot of Lovers’ Rock is about a far off fishing village heavily depended on its boating industry, a young woman becomes the center of a love triangle between an older man and a young man who is searching for a job. I was going to spend more time describing the plot, but I wanted to keep this review shorter.
This film is in many ways a forgettable film, the central plot isn’t anything unique and has probably been done to ad nauseam. But it provides an interesting backdrop for its story, a village on the coast of Taiwan. Not a typical spot for filming a movie. Visually, the film breathes a certain strange atmosphere due to this backdrop, and like the young man in the film, the viewer of the film seems to be treated with a bit of a cold shoulder. A dismissive nature of the narrative that exists even until the last moments of the climax. I don’t know if this was a conscious choice on the part of the filmmakers, but the feeling of being an unwanted outsider is quite strong in this film.
Perhaps, the strongest element of Lovers’ Rock is the underlying tragedy of the film. Without this element, every element of the film would probably be lacking, and the whole plot of the film would be too clichéd to stand out in any way. But the tragic element of Lovers’ Rock shows the thematic significance of its title in such a striking way; a significance hard to miss because it’s foreshadowed in a direct way. Lifting the romance of the film from an uneventful event to a harrowing tale that makes the film an emotional journey. The characters of the film are nothing to write about, but they all serve their purpose well. Some character motivations could have been explained, but this could be a limitation of the subtitles. This was one of Cheng Pei-Pei’s first roles, and I can’t remember any memorable scenes from her besides the haunting image of her in the final moments.
Other than those two elements, most of the film is typical stuff, you would expect in a film such as this. Of course, there is some effort to cast some social commentary on Chinese social classes within the mix. It’s there, but so many other films do it so much better.
Lovers’ Rock is not a movie you really want to track down even if you are a Shaw Brothers enthusiast. But there was definitely an effort and much thought into the film, but there are probably other films from the time that better deserve your attention. I will only recommend this film for big Cheng Pei-Pei fans