Looking for Mr. Perfect
Director: Ringo Lam
Cast: Andy On, Shu Qi, Simon Yam, Lam Suet, Isabel Chen
It is really hard to believe this movie was made by Ringo Lam, the same director who did City on Fire and Full Alert. I know it is not that appropriate to compare these films, as Looking for Mr. Perfect is a slapstick comedy that is quite different from what he has done before. But with Johnnie To as the producer and a rich cast including Shu Qi, Simon Yam, Lam Suet, Ruby Wong, David Wu, Chapman To, Raymond Wong and Hui Shiu-hung, it just wouldn't be wrong to develop some kind of expectations, right?
The Mission-alike poster might give you a wrong feeling that it's an action adventure movie. It is not. Private detective Andy On and Hui Shiu-hung are hired to investigate an clandestine deal involving a stolen missile guidance system. At first, On and Hui mis-identify Shu Qi as the broker, but later they realize that Simon Yam is in fact the real criminal. So the good guys team up and fight the bad guys. The plot is unbelievably simplified. It seems that the filmmaker just didn't want to spend enough time to do any explanation. We are only told that this illegal transaction is happening, and Andy On is supposed to intervene. That is it. We do not actually know whether Andy On is exactly a good guy or not, or if Simon Yam is carrying any evil plan with his missile guidance system. This oversimplified background of the story makes the characters look flat. I am not certain if it was the intention of Ringo Lam to do that, but it just seems that the real focus of this film is nothing else but the action choreography.
The action scenes are extremely funny and entertaining. The timing of the action choreography is so well calculated that reminds me of the "trajectory" gags introduced by Buster Keaton in the 1920s. That is, the acrobatic moves of the actors are connected perfectly with the sets through precise timing of directing, acting and editing. It is also what Jackie Chan has been doing throughout his career.
Nevertheless, the biggest problem of this film is the absence of a plausible plot. Although the action scenes are funny, it is not supported by any attractive characters or an intact story. Shu Qi's encounter with his prince charming is way banal than you would expect from her dream in the beginning, the investigation of the missile guidance system transaction is also less dramatic than even a Jackie Chan's movie in the eighties. Even Jackie Chan is striving to tell a story in a logical way in his later films, it is really weird to see why Ring Lam would allow such a lack of plot development in his film, considering that he has made sophisticated dramas like Full Alert and Victim before.
New actor Andy On's action performance is generally not disappointing. But it is so obvious that he needs more lessons on drama acting, especially the use of facial expressions. Although On's character is the glamorous one who is supposed to charm the girls, Simon Yam is in fact the one who steals the show. His bad guy character is not annoying at all, he is more humorous than evil. Trust me, you would love him more than the upright but boring hero Andy On. Sadly to say, most of the supporting characters do nothing to propel the plot at all, especially Isabel Chan and David Wu, the photo taking session and their romance are simply diverging and a waste of time.
Honestly speaking, I was quite disappointed with this film. Action choreography is only the side dish, no matter how good it is, a movie still needs a plot to make it complete. The plot and the characters are the soul of a movie. Without a soul, no matter how perfect the facial feature is, it is lifeless.
If you are looking for a serious action adventure movie or drama with an intact plot, Looking for Mr. Perfect is definitely not your cup of tea. If you ask me to classify this film, I guess I would probably call it a "light-hearted action comedy".
Cool guy(s) - Simon Yam, Hui Shiu-hung
Reviewed by: Kantorates