THE PHANTOM LOVER is sadly not a documentary about me and how much I love the movie THE PHANTOM, but it’s the next best thing – a 1995 Hong Kong romantic melodrama. It has no martial arts, but it’s director Ronny Yu and cinematographer Peter Pau doing another lush, operatic fantasy about forbidden, doomed lovers, like THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR. And like THE OCCUPANT it has a set of young characters learning about and having their lives influenced by the tragedy when they visit the site years later.
In this case the location is not an apartment building, but a magnificent Beijing theater. In 1936 it’s fire-damaged and cob-webbed enough that the broke-ass fledgling Sprout Troupe think they can afford to rent it for their musical Flaming Blood.
Ten years earlier the theater was known from here to Tianjin, Shanghai as the home of the great Song Danping (played by the groom of the Bride With White Hair, Leslie Cheung), brilliant actor, beautiful singer, dreamy heartthrob, definitive essayer of Romeo (cheesy musical version). Hungry up-and-comer Wei Qing (Huang Lei, CJ7) bribes the caretaker with chocolates to tell the story, and it takes up the first half of the movie. Danping was in love with Du Yunyan (Chien-lien Wu, EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN), daughter of one of the local rich dudes (Wong Bing, THE FOUNDING OF A REPUBLIC), and she would meet him in the theater after hours for romantic interludes. (read the rest of this shit…)