“Love Connected” is the latest outing from Hong Kong director Patrick Kong, who previously enjoyed commercial success with the likes of “Nobody’s Perfect”, “Marriage with a Fool” and “Love is Not All Around”. Although 2008 did see him dabble in the horror genre with “Forgive and Forget”, here he returns to more familiar ground with a series of interconnecting tales about love and human relationships, backed by an all star cast of familiar faces. Of course, as usual Kong takes a bittersweet look at romance, though here his touch is somewhat lighter than usual, perhaps unsurprisingly, given that the film hit screens on Valentine’s Day.
Taking place on February 14th itself, the film revolves around 5 stories and 14 characters, all of whom have their own different experiences of love. The film kicks off with Bo (frequent Kong star Stephy Tang), a quiet flower shop girl who spurns the advances of a singer called Wai (fellow popstar Justin Lo, also in “Love at First Note”), quite obviously due to a painful personal secret. Meanwhile, Bo’s boss Fong (singer Kay Tse, making her screen debut) meets her boyfriend Joey (Joey Leung) for a final dinner, a pair of office lovers try to keep their relationship a secret (Terry Hu, also in Kong’s “L for Love” and Chelsea Tong, in his “Love is Elsewhere”), and two desperate guys (played by DJs Donald and Jim of pop group I Love You Boyz) meet the oddball Goldfish (Miki Yeung “Fatal Contact”) over the internet and are delighted to discover that she doesn’t wear too much in the way of clothes. Finally, the philandering Fai (comedian Sammy Leung) attempts to date several different women, using a daft scheme that involves pretending he has a twin brother.
Kong’s multi-narrative approach works well, and “Love Connected” benefits from a lively feel and a sense of variety. Inevitably, some of the stories and subplots are more interesting than others, though all are generally amiable enough, and this helps to stretch things out, even though none of them are particularly original in their own right. Unsurprisingly, Kong plays upon deceptions and misunderstandings, though with less of the harshness he has shown in the past, and the mood is for the most part upbeat and playful, with things moving along at a brisk pace.
The film is quite fun in places, with some overt humour, and while some of this is a bit hit and miss (most notably the odd comedy revolving around Goldfish and the goons), the script is reasonably witty and shies away from cheap gags or slapstick. The slight downside to this is that the drama is not particularly involving emotionally, though on the plus side, Kong manages to avoid being too melodramatic, despite a few rather obvious tugs at the heartstrings. In fact, the film arguably works better as a light hearted character drama rather than a romance – perhaps not what was intended given the title and the Valentine theme, but suitable enough.
The film does have a fittingly modern feel, capturing the zeitgeist nicely, and covering a wide spectrum of dating ups and downs. Most of the characters, though thinly sketched, are likeable, and the film holds the interest throughout, with Kong delivering a few twists along the way. The one exception comes with the rather unpleasant Fai, who is plainly not a very nice guy, and though he arguably only tries his silly plan due to the incredibly gullible nature of the women in his life, he frankly doesn’t deserve to get away with as much as he does, and its unlikely that any of Kong’s intended audience would sympathise with his cheating ways, despite Sammy Leung’s best efforts to make him a figure of fun.
Thankfully, this doesn’t detract too much from the other stories, and “Love Connected” makes for entertaining viewing, functioning nicely as an ensemble piece. Although amusing and breezy rather than moving or romantic, this is by no means a bad thing, and the film stands as a worthy addition to Kong’s resume that should be enjoyed by viewers looking for a contemporary take on the tricks and trials of relationships.
Patrick Kong (director) / Patrick Kong (screenplay)
CAST: Kay Tse … Fong
Stephy Tang … Bo
Justin Lo … Wai
Ching-lam Wu … Fung
Chelsea Tong … Debbie
Jo-yiu Leung … Joey
Sammy Leung … Fai