RUN LOVER RUN - Taiwanese romance with young Brigitte Lin
RUN LOVER RUN (1975) is a Taiwanese romantic comedy-drama starring a youthful Brigitte Lin, who is better known in the west for a series of later Hong Kong costume and action spectacles, such as PEKING OPERA BLUES, SWORDSMAN II, THE EAST IS RED, and THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR. As a young Taiwanese star, however, Lin specialized in contemporary romantic melodramas and comedies and was as thoroughly enchanting in those films as she would be in her later works.
RUN LOVER RUN features Lin as Li Ping, a tomboyish college athlete who specializes in track, mountain climbing, swimming and basketball, among other sports. She prefers the company of her male athlete classmates to that of any potential suitors. She resents the attempts of her meddling mother to marry her off and when an old family friend (Alan Tang) returns home from his studies in the U.S., Lin resists the efforts of their two families to bring them together. Instead, she hooks the young man up with the girlfriend of her brother, who's away in the military. When that seems to work, it upsets everyone's plans and makes Lin realize what a fool she's been. Is it too late to set things straight?
The film is simple, direct and reasonably well-made. Brigitte cuts a striking, slender figure and is glimpsed in all manner of athletic activity and a variety of attractive costume changes (which help to distract from the god-awful 1970s men's fashions on display). She is constantly in motion and functions, as she would in so many of her later films, as an irresistible force of nature. She's cute and captivating and one can easily see here the budding form of the great screen beauty she'd become. Fans will recognize in Li Ping the seeds of all the dynamic qualities they've come to love in Lin's later films. In fact, if Li Ping were to avoid marriage and simply continue developing her skills, gaining power, remaining forceful and never stopping, she'd become...Asia the Invincible!--to name Lin's famous character from SWORDSMAN II and THE EAST IS RED.
An interesting twist for film buffs is the fact that Lin's character is a big fan of American movie star Charles Bronson and has big posters of him (and his MAGNIFICENT SEVEN co-star Steve McQueen) on her wall. At one point she even shows Alan Tang the Bronson poster and declares to him that that's her boyfriend, a "real man." Tang later dresses up as Bronson and acts "rough" with Lin to teach her a lesson. (Interestingly, Ms. Lin and Mr. Bronson share a birthday, November 3rd.)
The film also offers insight into familial customs and relations in Taiwan and the way families interact and negotiate an arranged marriage. When Tang's mother protests the way the impetuous and headstrong Li Ping was sold to her as "gentle and graceful," Li Ping's mom utters the memorable line, "Staying indoor is no longer a virtue!"
The film is available in the U.S. as a video compact disc (VCD) with English subtitles. The print is not in the greatest condition. Ever since Hong Kong's Shaw Bros. began restoring its films from the 1960s and 70s, a clamor has begun for other studios from that era to do the same. Let's hope more of Brigitte's Taiwanese films become available in a format accessible to her fans in the west.
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