Love Correction (2000)

Directed by: Marco Mak
Written by: Sharon Hui
Producer: Daneil Lam
Starring: Athena Chu, Nick Cheung, Monica Chan, Lau Hoi-Wai, Emily Kwan, Kingdom Yuen, Tats Lau & Amanda Lee

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All's peachy for Emma, an office worker about to be engaged with Leo (Lau Hoi-Wai), a major player in the web company they both work at. While simultaneously listening to a radio special detailing the superstitious belief of what picking up a coin will do for your luck, Emma thinks she strikes gold when she finds one on the bus to work. However all derails and despite warnings from network specialist Anson (Nick Cheung), Emma's next few days crumbles her life. Utilizing another known superstition to get back at the point before it all went wrong, Emma tries again to make her vital days perfect to the T...

Tsui Hark veteran editor turned to directing for the very first time in 2000, starting with the more Marco Mak-esque The Blood Rules followed by a lightweight excursion in the form of Love Correction and thus far Mak has never turned to comedy again. Having specialized if you will in crime thriller territory with compelling visuals, it's not entirely impossible Mak was given Love Correction rather than being the main developer of it. Playing to the Chinese superstitious minds with a healthy nod towards Groundhog Day, Love Correction certainly continues to introduce Marco Mak but not the modestly talented Mak that's established himself by now.

With a generic, undercranked montage of urban Hong Kong, poor exposition to get us started and threats of Nick Cheung desperately trying to equal Stephen Chow at his game, Mak establishes the office setting that Needing You ran with but this film definitely feels like one that came out on the conveyer belt of "just another flick". Even with a actual supernatural angle to the story, events and characters mostly feel way too out there to correspond to any kind of reality. Especially Monica Chan's Porsch who exaggerates every acting choice while inserting English language phrases to laughable effect.

However knowing Mak's path through the genres where quirky visuals have played a welcome part, evidence of him wanting to talk in a twisted way within this story is made clear. From the almost consciously poor CGI imagery of the demon coin to the strange interludes of the radio DJ's, he's certainly trying to inject some cinematic life into the actual sincere message of the film. Key word is trying as it turns out to be more alienating choices than anything else. But do pay attention kidz, you must face life in whatever ways it chooses to face you! Oh, and be nice to people. Not your must overbearing public service announcement and overall the film can't be snickered at for being amateurish. It's just nothing ordinary by any means outside of select scenes between Athena Chu and Nick Cheung.

Athena is really the queen of gorgeous Hong Kong actresses and it's really tough to criticize a bland choice because you'll melt before any such thing can be uttered. Same with her role here and when we're in our so called take 2 of the film, she musters up a sweetness that works occasionally well when facing our nerd of the piece, Nick Cheung. He threatens but never goes into straining Stephen Chow wannabe mode and while the character isn't any great shakes in the writing, the basic traits setup works for him as well when being with Athena. A welcome low-key, pleasant atmosphere and one not interrupted by too much silliness.

Marco Mak teaches us that there is or should never be a similar take 2 in life. You have to live with your choices or in the case of Athena Chu's character in the film, accept the off-beat choices. Simple enough, in a package that registers as that as well. For Marco Mak fans, you can see why he didn't venture into generic romance the subsequent years but instead tried to hone his skills in the various facets of the gangster film, culminating to best effect in A Gambler's Story (per definition far from definable). He chose an alternate take for his life in the director's chair. In that regard, Love Correction could perhaps be considered a poignant omen. A stretch...

The DVD:

Universe presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.70:1 approximately. Lacking truly good sharpness and colour, a damaging darkness plagues the transfer at times but overall you get through the viewing pretty easily.

The Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 track punches in the fronts at points but is a pretty flat exercise otherwise. Dialogue comes through ok though. A Mandarin 5.1 dub is also included.

The English subtitles possesses a fair amount of spelling- and grammar errors but are easy to understand nonetheless. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also available.

Standard extras appear, starting with Star's Files for Nick Cheung, Athena Chu and Monica Chan. These give basic but fairly informative career outlines. The trailer is all that remains.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson