Cherie (1984)

Written & directed by: Patrick Tam
Producer: Selina Chow
Starring: Cherie Chung, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Chor Yuen, Dennis Chan, Ng Ha-Ping & Michael Lai

Nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards 1985:
Best Supporting Actor (Chor Yuen)

Possibly there's a huge reason why Patrick Tam went from The Sword, Nomad to the Shaw Brother's production Cherie but not further than that in the dying studio. Bad fit springs to mind and Tam's career has not since been of as high artistic value as his initial output. Surfacing to great acclaim with After This Our Exile recently, the unashamedly designed comedy (for its leading lady) at Shaw's is...something. Quite hard to pin down what it is but quite easy to pin down that it isn't something as a matter of fact. Cherie is Cherie, an aerobics instructor being wooed by two men. One is an elderly millionaire played by Chor Yuen (1*) and the other artsy-fartsy photographer Alfa (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) with dreams of making a movie someday. Stage is set for rivalry...

Patrick has expressed that he took the hiatus between 1989's My Heart is That Eternal Rose and After This Our Exile due to an unhappiness with the artistic value of his on-screen. Possibly Cherie left a deep scar in him as it's a flimsy comedy with no connection to masterwork tacs of the new wave director. Basically setting up his triangle with no background, that Chu Yuan's Chu begins worshipping Cherie out of the blue, on the random side of things, certainly has a connection to Tam wanting to portray the rich people in a particular way. Chu does seem to be above the low, dirty ways of the rich scum but also has a moment of talking to himself and trying to decide whether or not to rape Cherie, like all rich men otherwise would. Kind of dark, the tone of satire, the film could've probably use some black moments like that because the rest of the way, Tam lets his carousel turn into an never ending nightmare.

Characters such as Ng Ha-Ping's Lucy you simply want to dismember slowly as she flails her arms through every scene, creating nothing of the GOOD wacky Hong Kong cinema effect our otherwise visually and dramatically driven director seems to strive for. Dipping into a certain darkness with Tony Leung's first appearance as he seems more creepy than anything else, there's still so much missing in terms of reasoning by our lovely looking leading lady. It's basically "I've got nothing else to do..." seemingly going through her head and it all comes down to it being hard to choose which man to look at favourably as Alfa treats her more like an art-piece and Chu is ooooollld.

But when launching the final acts that has its roots more in farce (included is the sight of Chu in Indiana Jones gear) than any other parts of the film, Tam just turn proceedings into incoherent, weird set pieces as the two men has made a secret alliance. Everyone is playing everyone all of a sudden and so this dry on laughs-exercise goes on. Photographing Cherie Chung seems to be no trouble for Tam though and it's hard knock the beauty because automatic presence she does damn well. But ultimately the movie Cherie can only send the viewer off with one positive and that is a freeze frame moment of lead Chung....topless. What does that say? It's not gratuitous but when being the sole element that works, Patrick Tam makes sure it kind of is.

The DVD:

IVL presents Celestial's remaster in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with anamorphic enhancement. Sporting fine colours and sharpness, the print is in top shape and a way too good showcase for the poor movie. The old time Shaw Brother's logo has been cropped and crudely inserted before the movie.

The Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 track suffers from no apparent problems. A Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 selection is also available.

The English subtitles are flawless throughout and even helps to explain a pun on words during one scene. Traditional Chinese subtitles are also included.

Standard extras-package from IVL/Celestial turns up, starting with newly created trailers for Cherie, Hong Kong Hong Kong, The Illegal Immigrant and Let's Make Laugh II. No original trailer is included. Movie Information-section contains a Photo Gallery with sub-sections named "Behind The Scenes" (4 images accompanied by text) and "Movie Stills" (10 images). Furthermore we get a screen of the original posters, production notes that as per usual holds the synopsis and finishing is Biography & Selected Filmography with basic bios of Cherie Chung, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Chor Yuen, Ng Ha-Ping and Patrick Tam.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson


(1) He had moved into acting by this point after directing a sizeable amount for Shaw's including Intimate Confessions of A Chinese Courtesan and Killer Clans.