Director: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai
Cast: Sammi Cheng, Anita Mui, Cecilia Cheung,
After the success of Needing You and Help!!!, once again, Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai used the same formula and produced another melodramatic comedy called Wu Yen.
Wu Yen is the name of the protagonist played by Sammi Cheng. She is the chief of a Yasha tribe. One day, Emperor Qi (Anita Mui) runs into Wu Yen and the two fall in love at first sight. They do not know that a bisexual fox fairy Fox (Cecilia Cheung) also has a crush on Wu Yen. In order to get the heart of Wu Yen, Fox scares Emperor Qu away by leaving a large mole on Wu Yen's face...
Although the plot of this film is supposed to be a rework of a traditional Chinese fantasy story, it is not a faithful adaptation at all. The story is turned into a farce. It is rather the cast, with Sammi Cheng, Anita Mui and Cecilia Cheng, that captures the attention of the audience. Employing Anita Mui to play the role of a coward emperor is a risky but wise choice. It turns out to be a successful attempt, and the chemical effects among Sammi Cheng, Anita Mui, and Cecilia Cheng are quite an impact. Together with the supporting casts like Raymond Wong and Lam Suet, the film succeeds in creating a hilarious and comical atmoshpere, which I believe is the intent of the filmmakers, since this film is supposed to be released during the Lunar New Year holiday in Hong Kong.
For the story of the film, I only have one remark, that is, the position of female characters in the film. Although the protagonist, Wu Yen, is a heroine, and the Fox also possesses a female appearance, both of them are still the supplement of masculinity. The film seems to suggest that after they are pregnant, the only way for them to carry on their life is to go back and live with the man, in this case, the Emperor. Female characters still are not able to surpass this boundary of patriarchy.
I am sure this film is a disappointment for hardcore Johnnie To's fans. It does not in any way resemble his heroic series like The Longest Nite and Running Out Of Time. It is hard for people to believe why such an all-star production would appear like a low budget mediocre production from an amateur studio. Obviously, most of the film is shoot at the soundstage. There are only three to four sceneries throughout the whole film, together with the silhouette battle scenes, the production makes me think of the soap opera on Sitcom...
Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai used to be able to insert certain metaphors and satires into the plot of Help!!! successfully, which creates quite a lot of interesting and decisive comments on the Hong Kong government. But this time, they even failed to reproduce this same format again. Some of the gags are funny, but it is hard to find any meaning behind.
Honestly speaking, the quality of Johnnie To's comedy is always fluctuating, sometimes very good, sometimes very crappy. For this film, I would say, the director should definitely thank the cast. It is the wonderful cast, with decent performance by Sammi Cheng and Anita Mui, and the elegant costume design that save the film from turning into a disaster.
VCD (HK version) - Unless you are a hardcore Sammi Cheng or Cecilia Cheung's fans, you do not need the DVD version. It is not the kind of film that is necessary to have in your DVD collection. The only good thing about the visual elements is the costume design.
Cool guy(s) - Sammi Cheng, Anita Mui
Reviewed by: Kantorates