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With: Andy Lau, Charlene Choi, Charlie Yeung
Written by: Daniel Yu, Lee Kung-Lok
Directed by: Daniel Yu, Lee Kung-Lok
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Mandarin, Japanese, English, Cantonese with English subtitles
Running Time: 102
Date: 03/18/2013
IMDB

All About Love (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Have a Heart

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This disease-of-the-week chick flick sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, but All About Love effortlessly sucked me in, working its hypnotic spell with shiny, lovely little trinkets and gorgeous hearts.

It begins with a bunch of expositional dialogue, which would ordinarily be enough to send me running away. Ko (Andy Lau) works in a hospital; his hot up-and-coming status keeps him busy all the time, as his higher-ups keep dragging him into important meetings. Lucky for him, his impossibly adorable new wife, Zi-qing (pop singer Charlene Choi), always forgives him (she jokingly keeps a running tally of cancelled dinners). With a fresh driver's license, she comes to pick him up from work, but when he cancels on her once again, she shrugs and turns right around. Unfortunately, she dies in a car crash on the way home.

The plot gets even more ludicrous from there. Much later, Ko's wife's heart has been donated to another young woman in need of a transplant. On ambulance duty one night, Ko rescues a young woman from a car crash, and she turns out (surprise, surprise) to be the heart recipient. He learns that she's a schoolteacher named Tse Yuen-sam (Charlie Yeung), and that she is currently in a troubled marriage to a high-class fashion designer. He also discovers that her husband, Derek (also played by Lau), is a dead ringer for himself.

It's fairly easy to guess where All About Love goes from there, but rookie director Daniel Yu (assisted by another rookie, Lee Kung-Lok) gives the movie a high sheen that practically dazzles your heartstrings when it's not busy plucking at them. Each surface is impeccably designed with the most wonderfully elegant things (perfect little pillows, tinkling water fountains, etc.), and each surface cleverly juxtaposes the emotional weight of the scene. What good are all these beautiful things, the movie seems to ask, if there's no one around to enjoy them with?

The other reason the movie works, of course, is Andy Lau. This charismatic star, with his astonishing cheekbones, recently lucked into a slot on the "A" list with his successful turn in Running Out of Time (1999). That led to much bigger roles in Infernal Affairs (2002) -- one of the biggest hits in Hong Kong history -- and the U.S. art house success House of Flying Daggers (2004). Like Chow Yun-fat before him, he appears capable of kicking hindquarters in action flicks as well as turning on the waterworks for dramas.

When it comes to pathos, HK films can aim pretty high, especially for stoic, jaded Western audiences, and most of these weepies collapse into a gooey pile of rancid sentiment (see Jackie Chan's Heart of Dragon for one bad example). But despite its title, All About Love finds a lovely balance.

Note: All About Love played a the 2006 San Francisco International Film Festival, but currently does not have a U.S. distributor.

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