A film of two halves…
Review by Neo: It’s been 17 years since the first All’s Well End’s Well and 12 years since the last one in 1997. Both starred Stephen Chow at the height of his fame. In essence, it is no stranger to anyone who followed Hong Kong cinema to say that it is Chow who made the films better than it should be and probably contributed to the box office success as well. In 2009, producer Raymond Chow (also starring in all three movies), decided to rehash and regenerate that kind of former glory. The problem now is that it is without Stephen Chow and a less stellar cast. Sure, Sandra Ng is still there, but she hardly qualifies as superstar quality. Luckily they managed to cast Louis Koo, aka Dark Chocolate and fellow comedian superstar Ronald Cheng. Adding to the mix is someone that has somehow caught my attention in newcomer mainland actress Miki Shen. So basically you replace Francis Ng with Louis Koo, Ronald Cheng with Stephen Chow and Maggie Cheung with Miki Shen. Sounds like a ripe off for me, but as far as Lunar Chinese New Year comedy are concerned, it really aren’t half bad. In fact, the film ends far better than the way it started off. With the first 30 minutes having the capability of making someone fall asleep, but luckily the next 45 minutes, the film somehow redeemed itself and ended up being a half decent piece of filmmaking.
The movie goes like this; Ronald Cheng is cursed and can’t marry until his older sister, Sandra Ng who looks like one of those middle aged lady with a hundred cats or dogs, tie the nods. So Cheng enlisted lady killer love doctor in the form of Louis Koo to woo his sister and then somehow make her feel the love again. Somehow, Koo runs into a cute-eyed mainland chick (played by Miki Shen) and Sandra meets a rich guy in Raymond Chow. Basically, the story does not need to make any sense, but the real problem is when some of the jokes are more annoying than funny, then it just does not feel right.
Sandra Ng is certainly reprising her role, and here she is your typical anger management lady boss who really either needs a holiday or a man to step up on her. Ng is normally a good actress, as seen in Golden Chicken and a host of other flicks, but she can also be over the top and to the point of annoyance. The issue here is that Ng is far more annoying than funny, which further adds to the insult. Luckily, Louis Koo is likable enough without doing much acting and is probably saved by his chemistry with my new flame in the light of Miki Shen. Talking of Miki Shen, I strongly believe that this girl have what it takes to be a star in Hong Kong. She is prettier than Elaine Kong or Janice Man, far better shaped than Gillian Chung and have a kind of cuteness can somewhat rival Charlene Choi. Then again, there is no doubt that I like the girl, so my judgement may be left with some reservation. Still Miki performs well for a newcomer and is probably the only shinning point in this rather uninspiring comedy. Stay tune for a photo gallery of Miki Shen on this site in the coming days.
Almost forgot to mention is Ronald Cheng who is really a hit and miss, while I liked his over acting in Dragon Loaded series, Cheng is more annoying than fun and like Ng, I am not denying the fact that both can actually act, but let’s face it, both are far more capable than this. Other actors appear here and there, including a graceful Charlene Choi’s cameo who cracked a funny joke at Sandra and the presence of Donnie Yen as a by passer, to mention a few.
So what is wrong with All’s Well End’s Well 2009 when the formula is basically the same? Remember in 1997, the film was targeted at the Hong Kong audience, filmed in Hong Kong, with Hong Kong locations and ultimately it possesses the Hong Kong feel within it. Fast forward to 2009, the film is filmed in China, the fresh faces are no longer Christy Chung and Maggie Cheung or Gigi Lai, but rather little known Miki Shen and Yao Chen. The film basically does not know what its real target audience is. The result is a film of two halves. One moment it seems to be aligning and cracking jokes in Mandarin and in another it is trying to put across the Hong Kong favour. Targeting at both Mainland and Hong Kong movies, in action films are fine, but when it comes to comedy, the Mainland style does not work for Hong Kong, and vice versa.
All in all, All’s Well End’s Well 2009 is basically a film that does not know what it really wants to achieve. Sometimes, aiming for a balance for the best of both worlds cannot be always readily achievable. It is just saying to your employee, I want this done with in a very tight budget and yet demanding the level of quality that is unreasonable given the circumstances. Director Vincent Kok has done better comedies and so have producer Raymond Chow, but those were not targeted at making money in Mainland China. It remains to be seen whether Hong Kong is still a large enough market for comedies to just target on its shores, but in the evidence of All’s Well End’s Well 2009, it remains an impossible task. Then again, I could be all wrong, considering the state of Hong Kong economy, the film somehow managed to rake in HKD$25 million from the box office, now that’s a success in any form of commercial film making … (Neo 2009)
I rate it 5/10