[DVD REVIEWS]An elegant film, despite bad dubbing

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[DVD REVIEWS]An elegant film, despite bad dubbing

One of the great advantages of DVDs over videos is the subtitling and dubbing. Films from around the globe are now more widely accessible. Chinese and Japanese DVD movies, in particular, are plentiful in video shops around Seoul.

Care should be taken, however, in making a choice. Hong Kong movies are recorded in Cantonese, but a Mandarin dub is also made. The Mandarin version sounds less natural, with voice-actors used for the recording. DVDs should eliminate the problem because both the Cantonese and Mandarin tracks can be included; unfortunately, this week's DVD had only the Mandarin available on the Korean edition, with no Cantonese option. Being forced to listen to a dub instead of the original (even though I can understand neither) detracted from an otherwise great film. Yes, I could have turned off the sound, but what fun would that be? Also, the English subtitles were sloppy, with many major grammatical and spelling errors.

In the Mood for Love (2000)

Directed by Wong Kar-wai. Starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung

Wong's gorgeous story of two married people whose spouses are having an affair is one of the most sensuous films in years, yet it is devoid of flesh and sex. You never even see the couple kiss.

Chow Mo-wan (Leung) and Su Li-zhen (Cheung) first meet when they move into neighboring apartments on the same day in 1962. He is a journalist and she is a secretary. Their spouses often work late. Chow first begins to suspect something is wrong when he goes to his wife's place of employment one night to surprise her with dinner, only to discover that she is not working late at all; in fact, she left early. He waits for her at home for hours. Su's husband starts taking more business trips than before. Eventually, Su and Chow realize that their spouses are having an affair with each other. In their sadness, Su and Chow turn to each other for support and eventually fall in love.

The beauty of this story is how Wong develops a sensitive storyline. Unlike his earlier films ("Chungking Express," "Days of Being Wild"), which usually have a hyperactive, excessive style, "In the Mood for Love" is slow and understated. The colors are rich, enveloping the viewer, and the sound track is lush. The film is full of views of Hong Kong in the early-1960s. The apartments are small - almost squalid. Su's clothes are so gorgeous and varied, they are almost a character in their own right.

Wong suggests many events without explicitly putting them into the scenes. You never even see Su's husband or Chow's wife, and you hear their voices only a few times. Mostly, they are off-screen, talked about but not seen. Su and Chow's intimacy is also off-screen. You see them riding in taxis together or eating, even practicing confronting their spouses; but there is not so much as an on-screen kiss between the two. The two of them refuse to give in to their feelings because that would make them no better than their spouses - at least, that is what they intend.

by Mark Russell

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