The Fox Lover (HK 2013)

Rating: **
Review Date: 12/4/17
Cast: Julian Cheung, Gillian Chung, Wei Ying Hung, Hani Chen

Madame Yu (Wei Ying Hung) is a fox spirit who was rescued by a human. She repays her benefactor's kindness by allowing his feeble-minded son, Yuan Feng (Julian Cheung), to marry one of her daughters. Feng chooses a mischievous fairy named Willow (Gillian Chung) to be his wife, and thus begins their doomed romance. Willow is horrified by the prospect and even attempts suicide, but she eventually warms up to Feng's innocence and naïveté. Meanwhile, a bloodthirsty demon called Sea Bat is attempting to take over the world of men, and only Feng's latent supernatural power can stop him. But in order for Feng's power to manifest, he has to have sex with his one true love, and that's where things get complicated. Apparently, his true love has to be human, and Feng is so mentally handicapped that sex isn't even a concept to him. In essence, the fate of humankind lies in Feng's ability to fall in love and get laid by an Earth girl, which turns out to be painstakingly difficult.

It's a weepy fantasy romance dominated by elegantly ornate hairstyles and gratuitous 3D effects. The film is vibrant and colorful, to the point where it looks like a painterly cartoon. The CGI visual effects aren't particularly interesting, and the wirework is sloppy and unconvincing. The acting is pretty weak and the action scenes lack energy and substance. Overall, I found it to be dreadfully dull, and even the cute fox fairies couldn't keep my attention (although Hani Chen did catch my eye). The sad and ethereal soundtrack is arguably the best aspect of the film, which does an excellent job of reflecting the magical atmosphere of the fairy world. It also has a distinctly Western sound to it, which is unusual for an Asian film. If you enjoy crying over the cruel fate of hapless lovers, you may find this a worthwhile outing, but like so many other big budget, effects laden, Hong Kong fantasies, I was disappointed and unfulfilled.