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Esprit D'Amour - DVD - Media Asia Print E-mail
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Written by Jay Creepy   
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
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DVD Cover Art from Esprit D'Amour on DVD from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema
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AKA: Yam yeung choh, Yin yang cuo, Esprit d'amour

Directed by:
Ringo Lam
Written by:
Raymond Fung, Clifton Ko, Kin Lo
Produced by:
Raymond Fung, Bak-Ming Wong
Cinematography by:
Kwong-hung Chan, David Chung, Chi Ming Leung.
Editing by:
Kuo-chung Chou
Music by:
Lam Manyee, Siu-Lam Tang
Special Effects by:
Kiu-kuang Chiu
Cast:
Alan Tam, Philip Chan, Cecilia Yip, Ni Shu Chun, Tang Pik-wan
Year:
1983
Country:
Hong Kong
Language:
Cantonese
Color:
Color
Runtime:
1h 29min

Distributor: Mega Star, Media Asia

Around 1990 UK lisping film collecting legend, Jonathan Ross introduced a series of Hong Kong fantasy horror classics late night for one week.  They included Mr. Vampire, Encounters of the Spooky Kind, Rouge, Zu-Warriors, but most importantly (for this review) a forgotten little gem by Ringo Lam (In Hell, Full Contact) Esprit D'Amour.  See, Mr. Ross opened the powder keg of Asian cinema around the same time on his documentary series, by showing Chow Yun-Fat in the jaw dropping A Better Tomorrow to a stunned nation of cult movie fans.  My friends and me all scrabbled for badly copied VHS tapes, some not even dubbed or subtitled, watching anything to feed our love of geeky films.  Over the years it looks like Esprit D'Amour has become forgotten.  There was even another film from the East with the same title that has nothing in common with this one.

Esprit D'Amour doesn't have flashy effects, or flying people with swords, or hopping vampires you have to attach yellow paper to.  Esprit D'Amour is rather tame and quaint.  It's a romantic supernatural comedy.  It does have good acting, a superb script, and dollops of feelings.

Koo Chi-Ming (Alan Tam of Armour of God) is a hen pecked boyfriend and an insurance investigator.  The motto of his boss is, “No matter what they say, we don't pay!”  One day he nearly runs into a young woman whilst driving in the rain.  She drops a music box, startled.  As the quaint music chimes, he steps from the car and asks if she's okay.  She's flippant and leaves him in the downpour.  From there and the way of true love, the path is laid from that moment.

Koo returns home to his family, including his tech-wiz younger brother and his gambling father.  Lots of comedy banter occurs between everyone.  His friend's are outside with umbrellas trying to light a BBQ in the rain until Ivy (Cecilia Yip) arrives to get them inside.  She is Koo's partner and snaps at everything he says, misunderstanding even the simplest comment.  Her script consists of mainly; “Koo Chi-Ming!” spoken very harshly.

Meanwhile the young woman he nearly knocked over has returned to her tenement, living on the top floor.  Siu-Yu plays with her god-daughter, Mimi, blowing bubbles quite happily until she steps on a skateboard, hurtling off the roof into the street.

At that very moment Koo Chi-Ming and gang have decided to hold a séance.  The obvious rule is do not let go or a spot of blood will appear in the cup they use meaning the spirit has locked to the final person.  “First blood?” jokes a girl.  Their laughter doesn't last long.  As messages start to come through, some vacate in fear and that leaves Koo and one more.  “How did you die?” he asks.  The cup violently reacts around the table, thrown off, Koo looks into the cup terrified and sees a spot of blood.

His boss assigns him a job, but the papers are moved with someone else's project, whilst scattered on the floor and Koo Chi-Ming recognises the victim's name as the exact one from their séance and the area she lived.  The boss is adamant she committed suicide so will not pay, however the investigation is mandatory.  Koo speaks to her landlady who explains all money is to be left to Siu-Yu's god-daughter.  Koo then notices a group photograph on the wall and recognises the girl he nearly killed that night in the rain.  “That's Siu-Yu” states the landlady.  The color drains from Koo's face.  Even more so when bubbles appear from the bathroom and the Mimi dances.  “Siu-Yu!” she claps in glee, but there's nobody there.

As time goes by, more spiritual things happen wherever he goes, then one night in his apartment, Siu-Yu appears to him (well, he's hidden under a table shaking in fear until she spots him).  After more comedy, she tells him how she had fallen accidently.  He takes this onboard, returning to her apartment and talks to Mimi up on the roof.  The skateboard appears in his path, causing him to fall from the same place as Si-Yu.  He survives by hanging from an aerial and cushioning his fall through tons of washing.  Shaken and battered he is convinced.  Coming more to him, he finds himself falling for the spirit and her feelings may be similar.

Koo's boss, John (Philip Chan) is running for election and is too busy to listen to all the evidence, so Siu-Yu fixes it for him to screw his election chances.  Firstly, Koo warns him that her spirit is stood right near him and will hex him.  When John is on live TV, she slaps his head and he talks about legalising brothels and prostitution.  Koo is stunned, he cannot believe his ears.  John is convinced, though, that his thoughts of politics are in ruins.

Then comes the union between man and spirit as Koo and Siu-Yu play fight after a few glasses of wine (which she does not drink but 'feels' instead, herself growing more tipsy per breath) at the apartment.  Pressed to the wall, he decides to kiss her.  She's horrified at first, stating they shouldn't but they do.  Unfortunately, they do not realise that his kid brother is hidden away filming everything including the wine glass floating and Koo kissing empty space.  Ivy walks in mid way and starts arguing until Siu-Yu slaps her head, changing her attitude.  After the couple leave, Ivy snaps out of it and finds Koo's brother and makes him present all the film to his parents.  Believing their son is in danger, they approach an exorcist to rid him of Siu-Yu.

Dr. Han decides that he will have to fully destroy her spirit by raising the door of death.  The plan is to keep Koo Chi-Ming away from his apartment whilst the exorcism and ritual is completed.  Of course things don't go as planned.

Esprit D'Amour shows its age but somehow carries the dubiously dated effects.  Every character is well drawn and the acting is top notch.  A lot of HK films can wallow in childish humour, which appeals to the Eastern audiences. In this film, the childish humour really works and isn't out of place.  Alan Tam portrays a scared and jumpy hero with such gusto you find yourself laughing each time his face contorts in fear.

Cecilia is perfect as the horrible Ivy, a man controlling beast of a woman.  And of course Joyce Ngai (also known as Ni Shun-Chun), who is Siu-Yu, is similar to Joey Wang from A Chinese Ghost Story 1, 2 and 3, as in she is very convincing as a spirit caught in some situations with a flesh and blood man.

The title translates as "Spirit of Love."  An idea came to Raymond Wong (who wrote the original story) as he wandered a graveyard and stared at the picture of a pretty girl.  He claims a shudder ran down him and he imagined the girl's spirit locking to him.  The séance was inspired by his own playful times with friends years ago. 
Esprit D'Amour is quite beautiful in many parts.  It all seems to move like a dream and the music score (Alan Tam sung the main theme) carries you along with it.  Kiu-Kuang Chiu handles the special effects simply but effectively.

If you come to this film expecting A Chinese Ghost Story then you'll be quite saddened because
Esprit D'Amour isn't about large tongues and singing swordsmen, it's about telling a simple and haunting story of man linking to spirit, with a large dose of comedy.

Mega Star and Media Asia have released this hard to find DVD with a simple trailer, language selections and coming attractions, but Esprit D'Amour has become so difficult to track down over the years that this version is probably the best.  Please avoid the 2001 film of the same title, it has nothing to do with it and sucks chicken blood off sheets of yellow paper.


CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

DVD Screenshot from Esprit D'Amour from Media Asia and Mega Star on Severed Cinema

 RATING:
 VIDEO: 1 
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 AUDIO: 1 
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 DVD: 1 
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 MOVIE: 1 
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 DVD SPECS:
 Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
 Region: NTSC R0
 Audio: Dolby Digital5.1


 SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL:
 - Trailer
 - Coming Attractions

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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

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