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June 25th, 2001 Issue #62

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Everyday Is Valentine
(2001; Universe Films Distribution Co. / Universe Entertainment / The Storm Riders Management Co. / Stareast BOB): 6/10

Cover art courtesy Universe.

Ching mai dai wa wong

Qing mi da hua wang

Romancing Liar King

Those who find Leon Lai Ming's acting to be a bit on the wooden side might be pleasantly surprised by his performance in this moderately enjoyable romantic comedy. In contrast to the stoic parts Lai is usually assigned, writer / director Wong Jing allows him to really loosen up and indulge in the sort of farcical antics Andy Lau Tak-wah used to specialize in for Wong a decade ago.

Leon Lai and Kristy Yang. Image courtesy Universe.

Inveterate liar OK Lai (Lai) loses the love of his life when Mona (Kristy Yang Gong-ru), fed up with his irresponsibility, marries someone else. OK's ability to bend the truth makes him popular with his associates and a vital asset to his boss (Hui Shiu-hung), whose constant womanizing has his wife about ready to do him in. Wonderful (Cecilia Cheung Pak-chi) is 20 years old but still has not experienced puberty yet. She has been going steady with her boyfriend since the age of 14 and is shocked to learn that he has recently been unfaithful by having a one night stand. After having met earlier in a convenience store, OK and Wonderful separately decide to seek advice from a visiting Buddhist master and just happen to arrive at the same time. If that were not enough of a coincidence (in Wong Jing movies, contrivance and coincidence are one and the same), OK's new real estate client (Moses Chan Ho) just happens to run the company where Wonderful is employed. The girl mistakenly believes that Lai is filthy rich and, encouraged by her friends, responds favorably to his advances. OK, meanwhile, is also spending time with Selina (Pinky Cheung Man-chi), his client’s slinky sister.

Hui Shiu-hung and Leon Lai. Image courtesy Universe.

Unable to keep up with Selina's voracious sexual appetites, OK is relieved when he is able to get away and spend some time with Wonderful, whose no-account father (Ng Man-tat) has gotten into trouble with loansharks. With the help of his buddies (including Cheung Tat-ming and Matt Chow Hoi-kwong), OK is able to clear up that mess but now must preserve the illusion that he is affluent, fend off Selina's advances, and somehow retain Wonderful's favor, in spite of the fact that she hates liars more than anything. When everything predictably goes to pieces, OK swears that he will never lie again.

Cecilia Cheung. Image courtesy Universe.

Despite the presence of Wong Jing at the helm, there is not as much toilet humor here as you might expect, though the jokes are still far from urbane, especially for a film with a IIA rating. In contrast to the norm with Wong, EVERYDAY IS VALENTINE (sic) is guilty of packing in too much plot and there are too many throwaway gags about the deceptions and verbal dexterity OK must indulge in to keep both women fooled (all of which was fresher and funnier in the 1988 Chow Yun-fat vehicle, DIARY OF A BIG MAN). The leads are engaging, though, as is the wonderful supporting cast (Natalie Ng Man-yan, Yuen King-tan, Lam Suet, Pak Kar-sin, and Eric Kot Man-fai also appear), making this one of the more enjoyable HK romantic comedies of recent months. Some nice location work in Macau and Nepal doesn't hurt either.

Natalie Ng and Cecilia Cheung. Image courtesy Universe.

DVD Specs:

Universe #5662
Dolby Digital 5.1
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English or Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
8 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips
Letterboxed (1.82:1)
Category IIA (for mature themes, sexual innuendo, and comic drug use)
99 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Universe.

The presentation is uneven. Some shots look excellent, with vibrant colors, while others are softer with lighter hues and pasty, inaccurate fleshtones. How much of this is the fault of the transfer is not clear but they are two instances of pronounced artifacting that are definitely not part of the movie. The sound is okay, though it is clearly a re-vamping of what was originally a monaural mix, with very little in the way of true stereo. The extras included here are Star Files on Leon Lai, Cecilia Cheung, and Wong Jing (his runs 19 screens!), an 8 minute Making Of featurette (in Cantonese with no subtitles), a trailer, and trailers for HIT TEAM, LAVENDER, and FOREVER AND EVER.

Cecilia Cheung from the Making Of documentary. Note the date on the clapper board: March 18th, 2001.
The movie opened in April and came out on DVD in May! You gotta love that Wong Jing!
Image courtesy Universe.

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review