All's Well, End's Well 2012 八星抱喜
Contemporary New Year comedy
2012, colour, 2.35:1, 116 mins
Directed by Chan Hing-kai (陳慶嘉), Janet Chun (秦小珍)
By Derek Elley
Thu, 29 March 2012, 09:00 AM (HKT)
Latest instalment of the Hong Kong New Year comedy franchise is less brash and more charming. Asian events.
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 (抱喜.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 (處女標本), 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.
After reinvigorating the veteran New Year comedy franchise with All's Well End's Well 2011 最強囍事 (2011), actor-producer Raymond WONG 黃百鳴 takes it in a slightly different direction with the sixth entry, All's Well, End's Well 2012 八星抱喜. 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 楊冪 (a kind of modern-day Amy YIP 葉子楣 with more personality), China-born actress Lynn XIONG 熊黛林, and an opening cameo by singer GONG Linna 龔琳娜 — 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 甄子丹, Louis KOO 古天樂, Sandra NG 吳君如, Kelly CHEN 陳慧琳, Chapman TO 杜汶澤 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 陳可辛 (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 陳慶嘉 and Janet CHUN 秦小珍 come up with their best-looking technical package to date, with d.p. CHEUNG Man-po 張文寶 (the newcomer to the team) delivering warm, good-looking visuals and editor CHEUNG Ka-fai 張嘉輝 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 八星報喜 (1988), produced by Wong and directed by Johnnie TO 杜琪峰. The two films' plots are completely different.
ContactSales: Pegasus Motion Pictures, Hong Kong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theatrical release: Hong Kong/China, 20 Jan 2012.
Presented by Le Vision Pictures (CN), Pegasus Motion Pictures (HK), Shanghai Hehe Film & TV Investment (CN). Produced by Pegasus Motion Pictures (HK). Executive producers: Jia Yueting, Edmond Wong, Shi Jianxiang. Producers: Zhang Zhao, Raymond Wong.
Script: Chan Hing-kai, Ho Miu-ki. Photography: Cheung Man-po. Editing: Cheung Ka-fai. Music: Chiu Tsang-hei, Andy Cheung. Art direction: Pater Wong. Costumes: Stephanie Wong, Vanley Ip. Styling: Bruce Yu. Sound: Chan Chi-kin. Action: Jack Wong, Fung Wai-lun. Car stunt: Roger Lee. Visual effects: Lo Wai-ho (Different Digital Design).
Cast: Donnie Yen (Tam Kun-wing/Carl), Louis Koo (Peng Kin/Holland), Sandra Ng (Sung Chau-po/Chelsia), Kelly Chen (Julie Sun), Raymond Wong (Chu Yuk-kong/Richard), Mini Yang (Chan Si-si/Cecilia), Chapman To (Wah Yat-sing/Hugo), Lynn Xiong (Tam Siu/Charmaine), Gong Linna (Xia Fan), Patrick Dunn (MC), Cherrie Ying (Kun-wing's girlfriend), Mannor Chan (Su Fei), Matt Chow (Wan, her lawyer), Hayama Hiro (Mok Siu-chi), Karena Ng (Siu-min, Yuk-kong's daughter), Lam Suet (Bing-kun, Peng Kin's workmate), Danny Chan (Helmet, Peng Kin's workmate), Hoffman Cheng (Clayhead, Peng Kin's workmate), Singh "Bitto" Hartihan (Curry, Peng Kin's workmate), Jessica Jann (foreign dignitary), Kelena Poon, Katie Kwok (schoolgirls), Michelle Lo (chief editor), Mak Ling-ling (Mak Ling-ling), Crystal Tin (Wong Tan-fei, Chau-po's former singing partner), Maria Cordero (lunch host), Lee Sheung-ching (Tan-fei's manager), Ciwi Lam, James Ho (new music stars), C Kwan (Julie's assistant), Ronald Cheng (Shalala), Lee Heung-kam (orphanage head), Yu Miu-lin (Ho Pik-wan), Jeremy Liu (Lam Yat-ho, Si-si's suitor), 6Wing (Fu Yi-toi, Si-si's suitor), Wen Chao (Tang Chou-mang, Si-si's suitor), Tony Hung (Sing), Vincent Kok (Fattie), Fung Min-hun (Snake), Tony Wong (Boss Wong), Fung Chi-chiang (Fung Fung), Scarlett Wong (Pak Sut), Luk Ho-ming (unlucky driver), Lam Chak-kwan (doctor), Tsui Tin-yau (eye doctor), Ha Chun-chao (wedding registrar), Teresa Carpio, Peter Lai, Louis Cheung, Wilfred Lau (themselves).