My Wife's Lover (1992)
Produced & directed by: Kevin Chu
Joanne (Chik King-Man) and her husband Alan (Vincent Lam) both work at the same advertising agency, with him being a frustrating creative force in their professional co-operation. Rarely communicating with her about his ideas and progress, that problem of communicating starts in the bedroom already. Merely using her for his own selfish needs (his own selfish QUICK needs), Joanne's meeting with photographer Terry (Maria Tung) means she can unload some emotional baggage like the fact that she's not had an orgasm for ages. Employing Terry as the designated photographer for an ad campaign that they decide should involve nude shots of Joanne, the husband is on board but behind his back Terry makes a move on Joanne. The start of a triangle drama of complex proportions. For starters, Alan has already cheated on Joanne with Yvonne (Yamaguchi Keiko)...
Not to be confused with Kevin Chu Yen-Ping, director of fantastic, schlocky fare such as Fantasy Mission Force, Pink Force Commando, Island Of Fire or dramatic excursions such as A Home Too Far (1*), Kevin Chu Ga-Wang has been far less prolific, with only two other directed movies. Based on his debut work here (that also included duty as the film's cinematographer), I'm pleased to say it's a Category III soap opera with a fair bit more intelligence than you would expect. Had it been done a year or two later, who knows if Chu's exercise in better than average shot-composition and writing would've been allowed. By 93-94, the Category III filmmaking carousel of decidedly mixed quality was rolling along intensely but in 1992, Kevin Chu got arm- and legroom for his vision.
Essentially it's a fairly short and brisk movie that you have to have patience with because it rolls out its best writing in the latter sections as Chu lets Maria Tung's Terry spell out the very correct analysis of how she views Alan's handling of his wife, how men selfishly seek out desire without a thought of the consequences but the mild genius nature of the film is that the trio all have a blame in the consequences. Consequences as it turns out that are not easy to predict the deeper emotionally attached you get to people. Terry may make the first move but also is looking to in the long run represent the factor that might steer a rocky relationship on the right track again but obviously such a rescue mission gets tricky when sex is involved. Yep, some kind of hurt is looming. The above is why My Wife's Lover is involving eventually. You go back and forth in terms of who to side with and even selfish douche Alan isn't thoroughly easy to blame. This incredibly corny script even on paper doesn't seem to stand a chance but Chu earns the recommendation over the course of the movie. It may not be as effective and deep as he wants it to be come ending time but we're genuinely surprised nonetheless. Especially since Chu is also occupied creating a well lit and composed frame.
Especially the various sex scenes come through with the intended sense of emotional misery (i.e. the short lived sex between Joanne and Alan), emotional release (Terry seducing Joanne) and of course they are steamy when intended to be. It may look like standard Playboy Channel fare but nonetheless there's an effect in combination with performances that are suitable for the characters and especially in the case of Maria Tung. This isn't revelatory stuff (well... it IS compared to her awkward stint in The Story Of Lady Sue) but Kevin Chu transfers the confidence in the Chau Laan script into a confidence in this performer effectively.
Only towards the end we realize there's some cheap ways employed representing Kevin Chu's final nail in the coffin in terms of his themes and messages about fate so he transforms My Wife's Lover into somewhat of an open ended cheat that isn't effective. Still, the movie is notable for taking the brave step into a softcore soap opera/melodrama that makes us hang on almost throughout.
The DVD (Tai Seng):
Of note compared to the fullscreen Universe dvd issued in Hong Kong is the running time difference compared to Tai Seng's dvd. Universe runs 83 minutes, 39 seconds while Tai Seng clocks in at 87 minutes, 18 seconds. Have not done a comparison between the two but if you desire the movie longer and letterboxed, seek out Tai Seng's release.
Video: 1.66:1 non-anamorphic widescreen.
Audio: English Dolby Digital 1.0, Cantonese Dolby Digital 1.0, Mandarin Dolby Digital 1.0 and Vietnamese Dolby Digital 1.0. The options for Cantonese and Mandarin are reversed in the main menu so if you want the former, switch to track 2 manually.
Extras: VHS promo spots for "Exotic Erotica Vol. 1" (containing My Wife's Lover, Love In Sampan and A Chinese Torture Chamber Story), "Chingmy Yau series" (Raped By An Angel, Legendary Couple and Lover of The Last Empress) and Erotic Ghost Story.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson