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Review: All's Well, End's Well 2012

2012-03-29 16:17:54        Chinese Films

Story

Guangzhou, China, the present day. After an accident in her flat one day, Xia Fan (Gong Linna) has the idea of setting up a website for needy women looking for male assistance - the reward being just a hug, if everything goes successfully. She calls it baoxi.com. In Hong Kong, four different men decide to try it out. Long-haired, washed-up rock star Tam Kun-wing (Donnie Yen), who lives with a young air hostess (Cherrie Ying) and still dreams of making it again, offers to stand in at an important lunch as a "boyfriend" for Sung Chau-po (Sandra Ng), onetime member of girl singing duo Sample Virgins, who's now penniless, boyfriend-less and homeless. Ambitious construction worker Peng Kin (Louis Koo) offers himself as a nude model to business-like photographer Julie Sun (Kelly Chen), who's looking to make a name for herself. Lovelorn romantic novelist Wah Yat-sing (Chapman To), who can't get a girl because of his unattractive looks, offers to platonically squire innocent, blind young orphan Tam Siu (Lynn Xiong), who wants to experience the feeling of love. Finally, unscrupulous lawyer Chu Yuk-kong (Raymond Wong), who's hated by his teenage daughter (Karena Ng) and separated from his wife, offers to help potential billionaire heiress Chan Si-si (Mini Yang) choose a husband from three young suitors by posing as her late father; if she doesn't get married by her 25th birthday next week, she won't inherit her fortune.

Review

After reinvigorating the veteran New Year comedy franchise with All's Well End's Well 2011, actor-producer Raymond WONG takes it in a slightly different direction with the sixth entry, All's Well, End's Well 2012. Less about money and success and knockabout humour, and more about making one's fellow-citizens feel good and realising their dreams, it's also more a collection of romantic comedy vignettes than a true ensemble movie, with the stories only slightly overlapping at the end and with the accent more on charm than Hong Kong brashness.

Despite all that, and despite a Mainland element in the funding and casting — with hottie du jour Mini YANG (a kind of modern-day Amy YIP with more personality), China-born actress Lynn XIONG, and an opening cameo by singer GONG Linna — it's still thoroughly Hong Kong in character. Local veterans, pop singers, presenters and personalities — whose names mean little beyond the Cantonese universe — pop up left, right and centre in bit parts, with the superstructure entertainingly sustained by Donnie YEN, Louis KOO, Sandra NG, Kelly CHEN, Chapman TO and Wong himself.

Though it's over-long at almost two hours, the film happily isn't mired in any PC do-goodiness. In fact, it's more retro in flavour, looking back to the '70s, with Yen, Ng and To all sporting long wigs and Koo with a giant, head-top quiff. Yen and Ng make an especially good comic pair as two washed-up performers, with Yen even singing (presentably) with a guitar; To does a very funny impersonation throughout of director Peter CHAN (Ng's husband in real life); and Koo spoofs his own romantic image as a Village People-like construction worker who does nude modelling and insists on speaking appalling English ("Why are you here? You are very sexy!"). Of the other leads, Chen is the best, as the bemused recipient of Koo's advances.

Returning directors CHAN Hing-kai and Janet CHUN come up with their best-looking technical package to date, with d.p. CHEUNG Man-po (the newcomer to the team) delivering warm, good-looking visuals and editor CHEUNG Ka-fai smoothly cutting between each story every five minutes or so. The Chinese title departs from the series' usual formula and instead puns on that of the rom-com Eighth Happiness (1988), produced by Wong and directed by Johnnie TO. The two films' plots are completely different.

Source: Film Business Asia

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