Category Archives: Charlene Choi

The Midas Touch 超級經理人 (2013) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 16th September 2013

Directed by: Fung Chih-chiang
Starring: Chapman To as Chiu, Charlene Choi as Suen, Gillian Chung, Wong Cho-lam, Yumiko Cheng, He Jiong, Lo Hoi-pang, Louis Cheung, Vincy Chan, Hins Cheung, Gao Yunxiang, Deep Ng
Film Distributed by Emperor Motion Pictures
In cinemas Hong Kong from 4th September 2013

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At the very least, “The Midas Touch” is more entertaining than last year’s struggle, but well acted “DIVA”. The film actually tries hard to convince the audience and almost managed to pull it off in a somewhat touching finale. Chapman To is now an established actor and like in “DIVA” his best dramatic performance is usually when he restrain himself from over-acting. In “Midas”, Chapman To never overacts and in turn is able to relate to the audience with a character that is extremely likable and quite frankly pulling off another good display of matured acting. The main problem of “Midas” is that it tends to drag out its sequences and with some smarter editing, 120 minutes of screen time is not entirely necessary. I am also not really sure which direction, the film is trying to take. In terms of genre, it is neither funny enough to qualify as a comedy, not dramatic enough to fill the audience with tears and definitely not romantic enough to go down that path. As a result, “The Midas Touch” feels all over the place, insignificant and sometimes uninteresting. Director Fung Chih-chiang, previously made the above average “The Bounty” and even shows glimpses of potential, but with a bigger budget and lesser directorial control, Fung fails to fully deliver.

What I am impressed about Chapman To is his ability to channel versatility in his acting. When I first noticed his potential, it was not in “Infernal Affairs”, but rather the well-made Wong Jing’s clone “Colour of Truth”. In that film, he manages to show his comic timing and stole the show despite his limited screen time as a supporting player. Of course, Chapman has improved loads and bounds since then and in “Midas”, he has now matured to the stage, where he can carry a film on his broad shoulders despite his unconventional leading man looks. His lack of chemistry with Charlene Choi is perhaps one of the reason why the film did not entirely convinces. Choi have a far more successful transition from childish antics of the past to a now fully matured and fledged 30 year old. Although there are still some glimpses of cute antics, her “My Wife is 18” days are by far and long gone. The weakest link in “Midas” is the lack of an identifiable character for Choi and while her performance shows maturity, her character is rather uninteresting and at times insignificant. In essence, Choi pales in comparison to Chapman To’s sympathetic and likable performance. As for the rest of the newcomers and models, most of them are raw and by the end of the film, none of them are able to stand out from the pack. While it is not exactly time for the panic button, but for one to be a true star, it requires something special, stand out and worth remembering. However, in this film, none of the 7 girls took their opportunities with both their hands.

All in all, “The Midas Touch” does have its moments where the audience are actually connected and in some ways, the film is actually pretty well made, but none of the scenes shows a level of fluency and flow that adds up to the finale. Instead, the films takes nearly two hours to tell a story or a well-meaning message, when it could have easily taken 90 minutes. There is also not enough laugh out loud moments for the film to be a comedy and when it tries for dramatic effects, it feels rather odd. Still, there are things that we can appreciate in Fung’s work, namely Chapman To’s performance and also some moments of cinematic magic (courtesy of a storming finish). It would be harsh to say that “The Midas Touch” is a bad film, as it is not, or at the very least, it tries hard not to be, but being average is not exactly what the local audience is after. With Chapman To at the height of his fame and a maturing Charlene Choi on display, I just expected more. (Neo 2013)

I rated 6/10

My Sassy Hubby 我老婆唔夠秤II: 我老公唔生性 (2012) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 3rd February 2013
Released on DVD and Blu-ray across Asia

Director: James Yuen
Starring: Ekin Cheng, Charlene Choi, Zhang Xin-Yi, Jones Xu

HK Box-office Takings: HK$10,820,150

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Its been a long ten years since the last James Yuen’s mini cult classic “My Wife is 18”. I am not entirely sure if the public actually needed a sequel, but “My Sassy Hubby” is surprisingly fresh, highly enjoyable and even providing a rather mature and realistic outlook in modern relationships. While the first film centre on love, interest and youth, the sequel looks at a more relevant and prominent issue of what happens when love fades and life takes over. In the process, director James Yuen (“Crazy N the City”) provides the audience with plenty of life-like scenarios, complications, regular household arguments and finishing off with the vital ingredient by adding an uniquely Hong Kong flavour to it. “My Sassy Hubby” works because it tries extremely hard to relate with the audience and not to mention, the wonderful established chemistry between Charlene Choi and Ekin Cheng is once again very much in play. This film may not be a total success, but in terms of entertainment value with a faction of emotional core, “My Sassy Hubby” easily delivers on most fronts.

Its been quite a while since we last saw Ekin Cheng take on a leading role (last being 2010’s “Once a Gangster”) and even longer from his last romantic outing (2005’s “It Had to be You”). Therefore to see Cheng takes on his famed Thirteen Cheung is actually a Hong Kong cinematic welcome back. In this film, Cheng has clearly matured, both in his acting and appearances, which in some ways he is actually playing himself. Nowadays, Cheng has come into terms with his own limited acting range and by playing Thirteen Cheung, Cheng is essentially playing himself, a man nearing forty and a mid-life crisis. His underlying chemistry with Yoyo Ma’s (Charlene Choi) playful and sassy personality provides the film with plenty of gags and highlight moments. Choi on the other hand delivers a much more restrained performance than her over the top ultra cuteness role ten years back. While, Choi may lacks her previous comic antics, there a number of notable scenes like on the hospital bed where she manages to touch the audience. Choi has always been a decent dramatic actress, take “Simply Actors” for instance, and at the age of 28, she seems to have find the right balance between acting cute and discipline at the same time. Zhang Xin-Yi possesses some rather acting looks and the lingering scene near the end, when she rides away in the taxi, provides the film with one of its moments. Jones Xu on the other hand, as Yoyo’s potential suitor comes off rather cliché, cloying and rather unrealistic.

All in all, “My Sassy Hubby” is a welcome addition to the “My Wife is 18” series and credos to director and writer James Yuen for keeping the sequel surprisingly fresh and interesting. While it is not exactly cinematic gold, Yuen manages to portray a realistic look into the dynamics in a modern relationship and in the process providing the audience with characters that that they can easily identify with. It helps when you have a comfortable leads in Choi and Cheng. Still, Yuen manages to deliver his message without being overtly cynically and repetitive and in turn, making “My Sassy Hubby” much in the reins of “My Wife is 18”, a simple guilty pleasure to watch. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 7.25/10