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Wedding Crashers

Golden Village Pictures

My Love (2021)

A near carbon-copy Chinese remake of “On Your Wedding Day,” Lee Seok-geun’s 2018 Korean film, Han Tian’s “My Love” manages to bottle the lightning a second time: It earned the equivalent of $21 million U.S. on its opening day and won the highly competitive Chinese Labor Day holiday box office over Zhang Yimou’s “Cliff Walkers.” Sweet, sentimental and occasionally funny, it’s the kind of romance that Hollywood has seemingly forgotten how to make.

The story charts the 15-year relationship between a student athlete and an aspiring fashion designer. They first meet in their teens when she transfers from another high school. Initially unmoved by his overtures, she reluctantly uses him as a shield to ward off other unwanted advances. She soon vanishes, as she and her mother flee a domestic abuse situation. Once he discovers what college she attends, he resolves to enter there himself. When he finally arrives, she’s already taken by the captain of the football team. They will eventually reconnect, become lovers and break up – not spoiling anything here: he receives her wedding invitation near the beginning and recalls their romance in flashbacks.

In “My Love,” Zhou Xiaoqi (Greg Hsu of “A Sun”) is a competitive swimmer rather than a player of American football like his Korean counterpart, Hwang Woo-yeon (Kim Young-kwang). The change in sport seems arbitrary, and only facilitates a silly joke involving his love interest’s name, You Yongci (Zhang Ruonan) – phonetically the same as “swimming pool” in Mandarin. Here, Xiaoqi inexplicably takes up a second sport – football, or soccer rather – in order to win back Yongci. The remake is otherwise faithful, not fixing anything that ain’t broke. But one has to wonder why it seems to describe Xiaoqi’s male friendships in shorthand when its runtime is five minutes longer than the original.

“My Love” owes much of its success to Ms. Zhang and Mr. Hsu, even if they seem slightly more reserved than the Korean leads, Park Bo-young and Mr. Kim. They convincingly transform before our eyes from goofy teens in a slapstick rom-com to leading man and lady material in a sweeping romance. It’s no small feat, given that Mr. Hsu just turned 30. Their precision portraying different ages, times and circumstances of this relationship from beginning to end truly makes this film sing.

The most impressive thing to a Western audience might be how much Mr. Han was able to slip past Chinese censors. The jock’s predilection for pornography and the couple’s premarital cohabitation both remain intact in the remake. Perhaps China isn’t as provincial as we once thought.


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