POOR CHASERS - Brigitte Lin as poor girl who makes good
POOR CHASERS (1980) is one of many romantic melodramas made in Taiwan with the lustrous Brigitte Lin, who went on to international stardom in Hong Kong films of the 1980s and 90s, such as PEKING OPERA BLUES, DRAGON INN and SWORDSMAN II. This film starts out as a romantic comedy involving two sets of friends, a pair of college girls and a pair of male buddies from off campus. In its second half, however, it turns into a rather dour familial melodrama that dampens the considerable good spirits of the first half. Brigitte Lin and Chelsia Chan Chau Ha play two college girls who meet Charlie Chin and Alan Tam while playing tennis. The two male buddies pursue the girls with ardor, but no one matches up to anyone's satisfaction. When Charlie makes clear to Chelsia that he loves Brigitte, it temporarily shatters the girls' close friendship. Only when Brigitte promises to have no boyfriend before graduation do the girls patch up and then get revenge on the boys by trying to break up their friendship. Miraculously, through it all Brigitte and Charlie develop a genuine love for each other that gets tested severely when Brigitte's mom meets Charlie's father and tells the truth about her poor background in Taiwan after Brigitte had initially told Charlie that her mother lived in America. This sets into motion a chain of melodramatic events that threatens to upset all sorts of familial and budding romantic relationships. It's all very well acted and, despite the downbeat turn in its second half, well told.
One of the film's most endearing elements is the quality of the friendships. The two girls clearly enjoy their friendship even though Brigitte is the serious, more stable one, while Chelsia is the flightier, more flirty one. The two guys are very expressive and emotional in the way they interact with each other. An extra emotional layer is added with the fact of Brigitte's poverty-stricken single parent household. Poignant flashbacks show her as a girl in grade school derided for bringing in a lunch box with left-over vegetables. The fact that she excelled at school and athletics and acquired affluent friends shows a character who overcame her disadvantaged background. Fans of Brigitte Lin will no doubt enjoy seeing another side of this versatile actress's abilities. Some of her early Taiwanese films, such as this and RUN LOVER RUN (also reviewed on this site), are available on subtitled VCDs (video compact discs).
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