Summer Lover (Review)

Summer Lover

aka Xia ri qing ren

Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting as Ting
Veronica Yip Yuk-Hing as Siu-Yuk
Vivian Chow Wai-Man as Liza
Loletta Lee Lai-chun as Janet
Max Mok Siu-Chung as Chung
Russell Wong as Zeniger
Directed by Clifton Ko Chi-Sum

A lovable loser meets the girl of his dreams, only she’s a spirit sent by magical VCD to obey his commands. This timeless tale hit the modern update, though it’s been played out in many media over the years. From genies in bottles to magic internet women, the story has been told many times before, and will be told many times after. This particular telling, though, is the one we are interested in. Summer Lover is not just an NC-17 late-night sex movie. In fact, there is little sex, though it’s in there. Most of the film is lighthearted comedy, in the vein of the early 1980’s teenager movies with the adult joke, aka the legion of bad Porky’s clones that dotted the 1980’s like beer cans on the side of the highway Sunday morning. Summer Lover‘s biggest difference is the particular method of the ladies. The women come out via magical VCD, a technology that’s getting phased out for DVDs. VCDs are huge in China and Asia, while VHS reigned supreme here in America. The women call themselves Laser Ladies, where in the US they’d be VHS Vixens, and now would be DVD Dolls. See, timeless!

This film is based on the Japanese Manga Video Girl Ai, which I have never read and have no intention of reading ever. I guess magazines where women come to life from VCDs is popular or something, but if Marvel ever put out something like that, it would probably almost sell as well as the New Universe titles. Anyone remember that? I was like 7, but I knew a bad decision when I saw one.

Our hopeless hero is Lifeguard Ting (Alfred Cheung), who is the total stereotype dateless guy. He’s got the bad hair, the big glasses, the bad job, and is a total klutz. Ting yearns for his love Liza (Vivian Chow), who he’s friends with but cannot get. Whenever Ting sees Liza, he bleeds, calling it the “Blood of Heroes.” Today is Ting’s birthday, but Liza cannot attend his party tonight. Ting’s friend is named Zeniger (Russell Wong), who is also Liza’s on again/off again man. Zeniger is a pretty boy, overshadowing his odd name. Ting has another friend named Chung, who is the movie’s horndog character. Ting’s party for the evening turns out to be just a tape for lonely guys that pretends to have a party going on. Ting’s friend Chung calls him up and wants to go looking for some “instant noodles” (aka prostitutes), but they end up going to a VCD store (aka a Laser Shop.) A magic VCD store (aka a Magic Laser Shop.) Run by a white guy. A magic white guy. You know he’s magical because he’s effeminate and is wearing a white long-haired wig. Luckily, he’s Cantonese fluent and can direct the two boys around, as he says the shop is specially made for brokenhearted people. Ting’s first impulse is to buy a Donald Duck VCD (which would have made a very odd sex movie….) but the manager directs the two lonely guys to the adult section. He gives them some special VCDs, each one featuring a different lady. Different magic ladies.

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