Review: ‘Love Conquers All’

Feature bow by former journalist Tan Chui-mui has the low-budget hallmark of docus helmed by her producer Amir Muhammad, but none of his sophistication. This cautionary tale about the dangers of loving men you don't know may edify naive teenagers, but the combo of a simple yarn marred by technical glitches will leave most fest auds unimpressed.

Life offers bitter experience and wearying viewing in ironically titled Malay DV pic “Love Conquers All.” Feature bow by former journalist Tan Chui-mui has the low-budget hallmark of docus (“The Big Durian,” “The Last Communist”) helmed by her producer Amir Muhammad, but none of his sophistication. This cautionary tale about the dangers of loving men you don’t know may edify naive teenagers, but the combo of a simple yarn marred by technical glitches will leave most fest auds unimpressed.

At the insistence of her rural family, agreeable young woman Ah Ping (Ong Li Whei) moves to Kuala Lumpur to work at a relative’s ramshackle restaurant. One night, while phoning home to her countryside b.f., Ah Ping catches the eye of a rough-and-tumble, but mysteriously cashed-up Kuala Lumpur man John (Stephen Chuah), who is determined to woo her. Initially wearing the mask of gentle romance, pic’s moniker appears genuine for its first padded hour until revealing its darker heart. Authentic perfs help maintain interest, but helming is uninspired and cannot transcend this DV effort’s severe technical limitations. A continuous torrent of indiscriminate noise on the soundtrack is particularly irritating.

Love Conquers All

Malaysia-Netherlands

Production

A Da Huang (Malaysia) production in association with the Hubert Bals Fund (Netherlands). (International sales: Da Huang Pictures, Kuala Lumpur.) Produced by Amir Muhammad. Executive producer, Nyu Ka Jin Directed, written by Tan Chui-mui.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), James Lee; editor, Ho Yuhang; production designer, Yee Low Chia. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (New Currents), Oct. 13, 2006. (Also in Tokyo Film Festival.) Catononese, Mandarin, Malay dialogue. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Ong Li Whei, Stephen Chuah, Leong Jiun Jiun, Ho Chi Lai, Ramanamahan.
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