Vivian Chow: Back For Love (HK 2006)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/22/07

After a ten year hiatus, singer Vivian Chow returns for a sold out concert performance. In the 90's I considered Ms. Chow to be the most beautiful woman on the planet, and I was more than a little apprehensive that this show might spoil my perfect memories of her. Thankfully, she's still quite stunning and charming. Maturity has gifted her with grace and sophistication, and she seems a lot more body-confident than she used to. While she still maintains an awkward discomfort and tragic demeanor, it seems less innocent and more bitter now. She simply does not look like she's enjoying herself, and is on the brink of tears for the duration of the show. Of course, over two hours of sappy romantic love songs is enough to make anyone cry, and she does break down several times. Even when she's fully composed, her voice wavers from either her nerves or the tightness in her chest. She's also a bit flat here and there, which no doubt added to her stress. Apart from 2-3 dance numbers, the majority of the concert is just Vivian standing in place and singing, trussed up in elegant dresses and rigid as a statue. Since the entire show is in Chinese, I'm just dying to know what her heart-wrenching speeches were all about. She performs several duets with (presumably) other singers of the era, and her English performance of "Sometimes When We Touch" is flawless. I literally felt as if she could perfectly converse in English.

About halfway through the show, a bizarre event happens. Someone dressed up in a cat mascot costume (presumably representing her pet cat) comes on stage and presents Vivian with a bouquet of flowers. After grabbing her and confounding her for about a minute, the cat's identity is exposed and Vivian's face completely drops, followed shortly by an outlet of tears. Who is this person? Was she happy, sad, or angry to see him? Who knows? Fortunately, later in the show she seemed to smile at him in the audience and the camera cut back to him several times. He also appears in the bonus material on the disc, so I'm guessing it's either her brother or an ex-boyfriend? As much as I despise gossip whores, I'd love to find out.

Culturally, it's an interesting concert. The costumes are elegantly beautiful and full of flair. The dancers are competent, but the choreography doesn't seem as tight as it could be. The sound is great and the band is excellent. While the stadium was completely full, the audience is fully pacified and doesn't appear to be the least bit interested in the show. Pockets of youngsters here and there sing along and wave around banners and light wands, but for the most part people just sit there and stare blankly with their arms crossed. Is this just how Chinese concerts are? Much like the rest of the show, it was uncomfortable to watch. That pretty much sums everything up: uncomfortable. There's a tangible tension in every shot, which makes you wonder just what's happening below the surface and what's going to happen if that gets out?