Get Love or Die Trying
The power of love, an existential force beyond material strictures is beautifully conveyed in Soi Cheang's Love Battlefield, a singular vision that conscripts the brutality and grit of a Hong Kong crime story to ultimately deliver a deeply poignant rumination on existential love. Beginning with a fragmented formal style that details the up-and-down relationship of our two main characters, Love Battlefield's opening is a kinetic, kaleidoscope of a relationship that is disorienting but ultimately transcendent when one begins to see exactly what Soi Cheang is building towards. After this messy but emotive opening, Love Battlefield settles into a more logic-based cinematic language of the crime drama. Incited by the loss of property (a car), this event threatens to sever this couple's relationship forever after tensions boil over and the break-up, despite this being something that fundamentally neither of them can control. It turns out a gang of criminals are the ones responsible for the theft and when the male protagonist rediscovers his lost property he is kidnapped. This sets off a rather traditional HK crime story but one that aches with existential notions of love and connection that transcend social constructions of legality. The shift in cinematic language only pronounces disparity between logic and emotion, and the juxtaposition between our protagonist couple and the criminal couple resting at the fulcrum of this story gives this film a downright existential or dare I say mythical layer. Narratively speaking, they are in conflict due to their material circumstances, but ultimately they can be seen in a similar light. In the end, both couples are agents of emotion who sacrifice their physical auras for a feeling, a connection, that is not quantifiable - the intangible power of love. Substantive concerns of even mortality fall by the wayside in the end, and what Love Battlefield manages with such existential weight is to capture a rather simple concept - Any meaningful relationship will intrinsically have conflict and contention, but when threatened with more substantive concerns petty contentions wither as a major component intrinsic to love is sacrifice. The almost unintelligible opening section ultimately comes into focus. Love isn't structured like the logic of narrative storytelling, it's a cataclysm of disparate emotions that ultimately become congruent through sacrifice and understanding. Imbued with existential notions of love, fate, and connection, Love Battlefield is such a unique vision and I'm frankly enamored with just how emotionally affecting this tale inevitably ends up being.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.