COMRADES: Almost A Love Story / 甜蜜蜜 / Tián Mì Mì – 1996 Hong Kong Film Review

BY RUBY GEGE WHO IS IN A JAY CHOU-HIGH AFTER LISTENING TO HIS SONGS ALL MORNING

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Rating : A perfeeeeect 10 out of 10

Why? Because Comrades: Almost A Love Story is exactly a tale of love, survival, ambitions, relationships, isolation and hard decisions moulded into a blissful yet intense two-hour watch. Directed by Peter Chan (who is so in my radar now), many critics hailed the pairing of Leon Lai and Maggie Cheung as lovers. 

The story, like all other stories, starts off pretty simply. During the 1980s, Hong Kong was an up and rising economic powerhouse in Asia. It attracted many Chinese Mainlanders (a term to describe those who came from China) who migrated there for employment and success, indicating that there was a lack of opportunities back home.

Our hero, Li Xiao Jun was a naive Northerner who could only converse in Mandarin and moved to Hong Kong to earn money and had a fiance back home, Xiao Ting. He lived in a house with his aunt, who was actually running a brothel, and several other Thai sex workers. Even though his life was hard due to the language problem, Xiao Jun worked very hard, starting from the bottom as a delivery guy for a butcher shop.

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But really… Is there a delivery man as good looking as Leon Lai on earth? Like… really???ti109685_large

He, then, formed a friendship with Li Qiao, a tough young woman who came from southern China and seemed to be more well-versed about Hong Kong then he was. She spoke Cantonese like a Hong Konger, behaved like a Hong Konger and even thought like a Hong Konger. Working at McDonald’s, Li Qiao earned extra money with any possible manner ie selling Teresa Teng’s cassettes, finding Mainlanders to attend her friend’s English classes and working as a cleaner. She was obsessed, obsessed and obsessed about money.

Their completely different personalities bound them together as two poor immigrants in the bustling and hectic city of Hong Kong. Li Qiao had a tough heart and no-nonsense attitude. Alone in Hong Kong, she met Xiao Jun, who offered her unconditional kindness and friendship.

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They spent a lot of time together, being each other’s only friend. The only reason they did not officially become a couple was that Xiao Jun had a fiancee, to whom he wrote letters very frequently. 

Then, Li Qiao and Xiao Jun had sex. From best friends, they became best friends who were sexually involved. Things seemed to carry on quite normally until Li Qiao realized that Xiao Jun had placed her the same importance and affection as his fiancee. She knew that what they were doing was wrong and cut things off. 

Li Qiao moved on and dated a rich gangster, opened up a business and rekindled their friendship after Xiao Jun’s marriage to Xiao Ting, his fiancee who moved to Hong Kong to be with him. Despite being committed to two different people, they were unable to forget their past and declared their love, determined to be together. However, tragedy struck and Li Qiao was compelled to leave Hong Kong in support of her gangster boyfriend and started a new life in another country. 

Xiao Jun’s wife divorced him after his confession on the affair. Xiao Jun also moved overseas and worked as a chef. It was years later that our lovers’ fates finally intertwined in an open ending. Did they end up together? Hehe, I’d rather choose the happy ending and say that they did. 

THE FILM MADE ME CRY. No kidding. And I was not expecting that. I found the film randomly in Youtube and watched it because I hold Maggie Cheung in a very high regard as an actress. Plus, I was curious to see how her pairing with Leon Lai will work out. Their chemistry together is phenomenal, times 1000.

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I was absorbed in their emotional dependency support for each other, their innocence and loneliness, their conversations, the rides they had on the bicycles and their trips to the ATM machine every time they received their salaries. They were two young people, seemingly lost amid the drowning reality of Hong Kong, trying to build up a life. It was a love story at its best. They ended up together even when they were not supposed to. Like Li Qiao said to Xiao Jun, life depends on your goals and dreams. Li Qiao had achieved her dream of having businesses, Xiao Jun achieved his by being a successful chef. Both were in great relationships. Yet, their hearts pined for each other, still. 

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Can I just mention how endearing Leon Lai is as Xiao Jun? As a nephew, he is filial. As a friend, he is helpful, kind and patience. As a lover, he is selfless, gentle and considerate. In short, he is perfect. WAIT, even ‘perfect’ is an understatement. Please, God, give me a man like Li Xiao Jun and I will never let him go!! 

The music of Teresa Teng also plays a huge role in this film. The Chinese title, Tian Mi Mi is one of Teresa’s songs and our couple loved humming to the song while riding on the bicycle and after having sex. Li Qiao was an ardent fan of Teresa Teng and sold her cassettes as a part time endeavour. Li Qiao herself is a very interesting character to watch in this film. Underneath that harsh straightforward manner she displayed, I’d like to think that her love for Teresa Teng’s songs represented her softer side. She could have been gentler if life was a bit nicer to her. Yet, unlike the innocent Xiao Jun, Li Qiao was often in a survival mode, her mind set to make money as much as possible. Teresa Teng’s music made the film a much sweeter journey for me as it serves as a stark contrast to the city-centred cinematography of the film.

Ahhhh…. If you love a great love story, Comrades: Almost A Love Story is a must-watch. Let me just repeat that – a must must must watch!! The after-effects of the film stayed with me for almost a week, making me smile just thinking about how sweet and beautiful the relationship between Li Qiao and Xiao Jun was. 

*am now listening to Tian Mi Mi by Teresa Teng non-stop… Her voice is very sweet, I can cry!!*

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Hong Kong : I’ll Never Forget You :)

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

Ruby, Fatma and I have our own version of interest and hobby. It’s usually different and not overlapping at all with each other. For instance, Ruby wanted to be a writer for a long time. Only god knows where she hides all her writing works. Fatma is aspiring to be a write. She already had an idea and just waiting for a right time to let the pen move. I myself, however, did not see myself in writing field at all. I love reading, that is no doubt about that but me as writer, there is no way in hell it could happen. First of all, my writing sucks. That’s a fact. I have no creative mind whatsoever. Second, if somebody does a proofreading on my work, he/she may advise me to retake a grammar class. I knew my grammar sometimes could raise your eye brows to the sky, but hey English is not my native language. Duh-Doy (I usually use this excuse because I don’t have any other excuse).

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Travelling is among other things that all of us love and would like to do it together one day. We did plan to go to Bangkok this year but since the Riot happened, we postponed the plan. Choosing a country where we all wanted to go also could be a problem. Ruby already declared her unbeatable love to India meaning to say that one of the countries chinguz have to visit is India. Fatma, on the other hands, wanted to explore Europe and Eastern Asia countries like South Korea and Japan. I myself wanted to go to middle-eastern countries like Afghanistan, Morocco, Turkey and Palestine. Maybe I would do a solo journey going to Palestine and Afghanistan but Turkey and Morocco, Chinguz can’t say No to me. Anyway, on 4-7 March 2014, I went to Hong Kong with a close friend of mine from USM. We both did our master degree in September 2012 at USM. We’ve been a roommate for a year and eventually graduated together on September 2013. I still remember how I wish I didn’t get a LAME roommate during my first day at USM. By my own definition on ‘LAME’ person means over-religious, busybody kind of people, a very silent person, a person who always talk about his significant other and a fucking cheapskate. It turns out my roommate Najibah did not possess any of LAME quality that I highlighted in the above sentence. We’ve been a close friend ever since we met. Going to Hong Kong is like one of the random decisions I’ve ever made. I love traveling but Hong Kong is not on my list of places I wanted to go.

Arrive at the HK Airport with style.
Arrive at the HK Airport with style.

We bought a flight ticket in January 2014 and planned everything ahead of schedule like where we wanted to go and where can we get a Halal food. Actually, it is not really ‘we’ because I did nothing. Thanks to Najibah and her friend, Izzah who prepared everything before we arrived to Hong Kong. When we landed at Hong Kong, first thing I regretted is how foolish I am for not bringing any sweater, shoes and socks there. My mother did nag me about it and ask me to pack a sweater but let just say I am a stubborn daughter.  I regretted my decision for not listening to my mother right after we landed there. It’s fucking 15 Celsius degree there. I know some of you say that’s normal but where I came from that’s not normal. That freaking cold (especially if you didn’t bring any sweater with you).

Jib and I freestyling in front of the Disneyland Entrance.
Jib and I freestyling in front of the Disneyland Entrance.
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We Met Buzz Lightyear!!
With Minnie Mouse ;)
With Minnie Mouse 😉

I make do with what I had. I wore like freaking 4 layers of clothes just to keep me warm. There are 5 places we visited at Hong Kong which are the Avenue of Stars, Disneyland Hong Kong, Ocean Park Hong Kong, The Peak Tram and Ngong Ping 360 (where you can see the Big Buddha yourself). I wish we could go to many places but let’s just be honest, 4 days is too short. We missed on visiting the Art Museum Hong Kong, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and Ladies Market. If Any Malaysian is planning on going to Hong Kong this year, hey RM 2000 is enough for the budget. I used RM 1000 for Plane ticket and Hotel accommodation. Another RM 1000 is for your spending there (you will pay for the Disneyland, ocean park and all of that ticket to the place you wanted to go) but trust me, it is more than enough. Since Hong Kong is not really famous destination among Muslim tourists, it is a bit difficult to find a Halal food restaurant.There are some of the restaurants that offers Halal Food (google it if you wanted the list of Halal restaurant in HK) but we have to take a long journey to arrive there. Due to that, we ate at Halal Food Restaurant only for lunch and we ate Ramen Cup/Maggi Cup or white bread we brought from Malaysia for dinner.

Admiralty MTR station

Underground MTR station

We stayed at YesInn Hotel near the Fortress Hill area. It is pretty strategic area actually considering it is close to MTR station. It is very convenient to us to go to many places in Hong Kong. We bought or ‘rent’ the Octopus Card at the airport on the day we arrived there. Octopus Card is similar to Touch N Go Card that we had here in Malaysia. You have to reload it and you can use it pretty much everywhere. I know some of us would like to use cheap transportation in Hong Kong and may conceive the idea that MTR is much affordable than taxi. In Malaysia, KTM is way much cheaper than Taxi because our taxi did not use their freaking meter. In Hong Kong, MTR cost and Taxi Cost is pretty much similar. However, you better use taxi when there are 3 or 4 of you. It’s just convenient for me (maybe because I hate walking). The perks of using MTR there is they are faster, comfortable and you don’t have to wait like half an hour for the next available train to come. For me, MTR and Taxi did not differ much; the cost is pretty much the same.

Yesinn Hotel

YesInn Hotel is not a fancy 5 star Hotel. We slept there because the building is in the middle of town, accessible with bus route and MTR route. The room is not that big. We have 1 bunk bed and 1 extra sliding bed. It is comfortable enough for us because we are only using it during night. Since this is cheap hotel, there is no thermostat in the room. You can’t control the temperature in the room. The temperature outside the hotel will be similar in the hotel’s room (maybe slightly less cold but still cold). We bear the cold with a very thick blanket and socks. We have access to Hot water for morning shower but we have to wait every half an hour so that water can take time to reheat again. It may not perfect for some of you but I think it’s good enough for us (especially the price we paid for the hotel is not that much). Hong Kong Airport is just awesome. Their WIFI is so fast that you can watch youtube video there without any buffering. They had cinema in their airport. Can you imagine having a cinema at LCCT and KLIA? It would be awesome if we had it too.

Muslim Tourist might encounter the problem like finding the prayer room in certain places in HK. HK airport provides prayer room for Muslim Tourists but they didn’t do partition for men and women in that prayer room. We can’t blame them though because they don’t know. For famous places like Disneyland and Ocean Park, asking the customer service counter might be a wise decision. They will show the rest room where it can be use for prayer. All you have to do is ask. I don’t know whether we’re not lucky enough or we’re asked the wrong person there. Every single time we asked any people in HK about the direction, they seem snobbish and unfriendly. I don’t want to assume that all people in HK are like that but we face the experience of being yelled at and being dismissed right away. I would like to assume we are just bunch of bad luck tourists who asked the wrong persons. Those that worked at Disneyland and Ocean park, they are friendly and warm people (maybe it is part of their job and they get paid for doing so). Overall, going to Hong Kong is such an amazing experience. I would never forget it because I use my own money to pay for everything for the first time. It is also my first time going to the oversea without any parents’ protection, rule and restriction.  I also went there with my best friend. What more could I ask, right?

Overall, for this Hong Kong trip:

My Rating: 4/5

1) Famous Places: 4/5

2) Public Transportation: 5/5

3) Accommodation: 3.5/5

4) Food: 2/5

5) People: 2.5/5

Prepare to be scared.

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

The post title obviously for you guys ;P

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2

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My Gibberish Opinion: The Conjuring may fail to impress me but I somehow felt satisfied with Insidious Chapter 2. People said sequel film will end up in the dumpster but hey, I beg to differ. The continuation of insidious chapter 2 began when Elise found dead and Josh has been possessed by Parker ghost. The chill runs through your nerve when you know that there is no way josh returned safely from the further. The plot continued as Renai, Josh’s wife experienced the disturbances like creepy voices echoed through baby monitor and the lady ghost roaming inside her house. I will not going on about the rest of the story because anyhow, you have to watch the story yourself. This film still gives me a good scare though while watching it, I am encountering some people who never been to cinema before. It is freaking annoying, I feel like I want to slap each one of them but I remain civilized. Elise, the spiritual guide who died in insidious chapter 1 appears in several scenes as she helped josh and her crew to investigate what really happens to parker ghost and try to send him back to ‘The Further’.

Memorable Scene: When the psychotic lady ghost attack Renai at living room, that scene made me swear like 100th times.

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My Rating: 3.5/5 (I am not going to lie, I like insidious better. However, the sequel of the film is not all bad and James Wan did twisting the film in certain manners and be true to the storyline).

RIGOR MORTIS

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My gibberish opinion: This film is bizarrely beautiful and eerily artful. To be honest, i never liked Hong Kong’s Horror Films. They are not scary enough for me. Rigor Mortis strike as a different kind of horror film. Yes, all Asian films has long-haired lady ghost and wore white clothe but Rigor Mortis stays in its element. There are vampire hunter, black magic shaman, creepy Chinese ghost, the evil twins’ spirits and the disturbing kid ghost that sitting in the corner with mutilated face. The plot begins when the retired film star rented the cursed room number 2442. He originally did not want to live there for a long time as he planned to kill himself in that room right after settling down his things. However, he was being saved by the fellow resident who had a 6th sense. However, since the attempt of suicide by the man took place, the environment of the flat turned sinister. What I liked about the film: it has more than 1 ghost, it exhibits the reasons why such dark creatures existed and the veteran casts in this film really excel in their acting.

Memorable Scene: When the retired vampire hunter and the black magic shaman fighting and capturing the evil twin spirits.

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My Rating: 3/5 (it’s a different kind of horror film, there are some memorable scary scenes but it didn’t give me nightmare).