Joe was kind enough to give me an interview for The Mighty Dragon a while back. He spoke about his aim of making “a Hong Kong movie for Hong Kong people” and he got that chance with Love Stalk (2016) – a western Director (a New Yorker) making a Cantonese film in Hong Kong is quite an achievement.
I was curious about this movie that had taken 4 years of blood, sweat and tears to make, so decided to watch it this morning on Flix Premiere to review on the blog.
Sharon is a fast-rising PR executive from Singapore, searching for love in Hong Kong, who may have found her dream guy, but as she chases after him online and in person, Sharon quickly finds out the dangers of stalking a secret crush.
As an ex-Hong Konger, it’s fascinating to be taken back to a place I once called home and this film didn’t fail to deliver some beautiful shots of this captivating city.
The start of the film sets the tone, one girl, Sharon (Angie Palmer), arriving home alone, the other in the passionate throws of a one-night stand, Joan (Dado Lo).
Social media messaging was utilised effectively throughout the story, a scary modern day reminder of how people are connected to their technology and how it runs their lives and rules their emotions. As exciting as it can be to know that a crush is 100m from you, on the reverse side this can be quite scary – I thought this was cleverly told within this story. Note to self: The location identifier will still remain off on my phone!
We have an early flashback scene of Sharon with a date, she is taking pictures of her food with her phone – this spoke volumes to me how in today’s world we all (or rather me) take too many pictures for Instagram, Facebook or Twitter without actually experiencing the real-life event occurring around us. I remember my Uncle after a family trip to Walt Disney World stating that he saw all of it ‘through a camera’ and feeling what a shame that was.
Sharon meets a mysterious man, Ryan (Ronald Pak), they seem so well-suited, similar personalities, with a shared background – a match made in online heaven? The story unfolds that someone is a psycho in Sharon’s world, and there are some good twists and turns to find out who exactly that is.
An outstanding character for me was Joan – I loved her wanton ways, very much a modern woman she had a brutal honesty with her dialogue and delivered that well. The way she dismissed poor Joe at the bar was hilarious (that guy seriously needs to work on his chat-up lines, he gets ignored by Sharon much later too). She was the most ballsy character to me and as I watched more, I was proved right. I hope to see more of this actress.
I enjoyed Sharon’s relationship with her work friend Ricky (Jae Leung) more than the girls’ relationship and its hard to say exactly why, as the girls were polar opposites. Ricky’s character was quite lovable to me and I felt this expressed a part of Sharon’s true nature. This ‘coupling’ worked well in the office scenes, where there were some great camera angles which stuck out to me.
I adored Esther, played by Ines Laimins, she reminded me so much of Kim Cattrall in her style of acting, one of my favourite actresses. Esther is a ruthless PR boss, her talk with Sharon later in the movie about “how to be with men” was so well done – Sharon’s frozen face as she was advised, “how to hold a man by the balls!” was a great scene. There was a line where Ricky remarked that he thought Esther would be watching them on CCTV in the office, I would have liked to have seen this in the film actually! A dip into Esther’s controlling world, she was a fascinating character.
As I watched this film I would pause every now and again to see, as a writer, what I think the next scene would be or how the storyline would unfold. I did this especially for the end climatic scene and confrontation with the psycho.
The part of that event that I enjoyed the most was the chase down the stairs, I think that worked very well and I liked the camera angles here, I could feel the tension and urgency. Here I paused and thought that the body count would be good on the stairs as Sharon was fleeing to make it more shocking or horrifying to her character. But that’s me, am I tainted from watching too many horror films!
I really enjoyed this movie, it was earthy and real – there was an innocence too about it with it’s warm, feel-good ending, I think too many women can identify with Sharon, a young woman searching for Mr Right caught up with the crazy, online dating world.
A huge congratulations and much respect to Joe and his team, for all the hard work, passion and belief that went into it and I am so glad that he achieved what he had set out to do in Hong Kong. Joe too makes a cool cameo in the film.
Joe, wishing you all the best in the USA and your future projects!