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
Everyday Is Valentine
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 clients 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.
Cecilia Cheung from the Making Of
documentary. Note the date on the clapper board: March 18th, 2001.