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All's Well Ends Well 2012
All's Well Ends Well 2012     All's Well Ends Well 2012

(left) Louis Koo and Kelly Chen, and (right) Sandra Ng and Donnie Yen in All's Well Ends Well 2012.
Chinese: 八星抱喜  
Year: 2012
Director:

Chan Hing-Kai, Janet Chun Siu-Jan

Producer:

Raymond Wong Bak-Ming

Cast: Donnie Yen Ji-Dan, Louis Koo Tin-Lok, Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Kelly Chen, Raymond Wong Bak-Ming, Chapman To Man-Chat, Lynn Xiong, Mini Yang, Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Karena Ng, Crystal Tin Yui-Lei, Maria Cordero, Lee Heung-Kam, Ha Chun-Chau, Jeremy Liu, Lam Suet, Cherrie Ying Choi-Yi, Gong Linna, Michelle Loo, Mak Ling-Ling, 6 Wing, C. Kwan, Wen Chao, Tang Chi-Fung, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, Fung Min-Hun, Matthew Chow Hoi-Kwong, Hiro Hayama, Tsui Tin-Yau, Tony Wong Yuk-Long, Fung Chih-Chiang, Teresa Carpio, Wilfred Lau Ho-Lung, Peter Lai Bei-Tak, Ciwi Lam Sze-Man, James Ho Seung-Him, Louis Cheung Kai-Chung, Tyson Chak Hoi-Tai, Maggie Li
  The Skinny:

More of the same All's Well Ends Well Lunar New Year fluff, but with a few extra debits - too much sentimentality, an overlong running time, and too little interaction between the stars - that make it a lesser entry in the series. The highlights: Donnie Yen's wig, Louis Koo's crappy English, Sandra Ng's divine silliness and Mini Yang's swimsuit. Let those be your guide.

 
Review
by Kozo:
Confusing movie titles ahoy! Last year, producer-actor Raymond Wong Bak-Ming uttered something about ending the All’s Well Ends Well series with the 2011 edition, but here we are in 2012 with All’s Well Ends Well 2012. However, Wong was not lying: this latest iteration in the All's Well series actually possesses a similar Chinese language title to the Wong-produced 1988 Lunar New Year comedy Eighth Happiness. That means AWEW 2012 is really a spinoff of a different Lunar New Year movie franchise and not a continuation of Wong’s All’s Well Ends Well series. Not that there's much difference; regardless of titles, these Lunar New Year movies promise big stars, numerous couples, random gags and saccharine sentimentality. It's a yearly formula that seldom means quality. But fun? That can be had.

But even crap has to be done right, and if AWEW 2012's flimsy story is any evidence, they only do half a job of it here. An opening voiceover explains that a website called baoxi.com helps lonely females meet able males, with the males providing manly assistance in exchange for a soul-warming hug. In no order of importance: failed rock star Carl Tam (Donnie Yen) agrees to help down-and-out Chelsia (Sandra Ng), an ex-idol singer who's running from an abusive boyfriend and fighting with her former bandmate (Crystal Tin). Hunky construction worker Peng Kin (Louis Koo) offers himself as a male model for aspiring photographer Julie (Kelly Chen), who pretends to seduce Kin to bring out his photogenic side. Ugly romance novelist Hugo (Chapman To) helps blind beauty Charmaine (Lynn Xiong) "experience" first love, while pretending that he's really handsome. Finally, bastard lawyer and lousy father Richard (Raymond Wong) plays surrogate dad to Cecilia (Mini Yang), who must get married before her 25th birthday or she’ll lose her massive inheritance.

The attraction of the above situations is obvious: two characters are awkwardly thrown together, allowing them to fall in love accidentally and unconvincingly. Plots like these have been used for entire films, and AWEW 2012 attempts to cram four such pairings into less than two hours. However, the mistake here isn't packing too much into one movie, it's pushing emotion or character arcs over gags. Lunar New Year comedies like this are famous for big star couples and screwy shenanigans, and less so for inspirational messages like "chase your dreams", "be a better person", "be honest with yourself" or "put aside your pride". This film has Donnie Yen (in a hilarious wig), Louis Koo (speaking hilariously in English), Sandra Ng (funny as usual), Chapman To (doing an inexplicable Peter Chan impression), Kelly Chen (pretty), Lynn Xiong (tall and pretty), Mini Yang (super hot) and Raymond Wong (he paid for the movie). The filmmakers should be aiming for hee-haws over heartstrings, but they curiously split the difference.

All's Well Ends Well 2012 needs more gags and less syrupy moments, but the latter take precedence to the former, stretching everything out to a wheezing two hours. Directors Chan and Chun need to be snappier and wittier, but they instead slow things down, offering undue personal reflection before punctuating scenes with uplifting sentiment rather than show-stopping gags. The super-thin baoxi.com plot makes everything seem even more manufactured, and most of the storylines go nowhere pretty quickly. Also, in a rare move for Lunar New Year films, there are virtually no scenes with the entire cast interacting. On the plus side, the filmmakers restrain themselves from making Mini Yang into Raymond Wong's love interest. Wong starts as Yang's surrogate dad and ends there, and the film never really considers a romantic relationship between the two – though really, they could have leveraged that expectation into something perverse and funny. As is, the gags never go far, with mosaic-covered Louis Koo nudity the most risqué things get. Those looking for biting or surprising humor might have better luck getting it from fellow audience members.

All's Well Ends Well 2012 does provide requisite star-spoofing antics. Louis Koo's manly mugging and English-language acting are must-sees for his fans, and Donnie Yen stretches his comic chops admirably, at times recalling his goofy performance in the craptastic 1985 film Mismatched Couples. Action fans beware: Yen doesn't throw a punch or even a slimming strike, though he does chuck some luggage at Sandra Ng pretty hard. He also gets to rock out in amusing and semi-inspirational style. The song selection (Sam Hui), bad hair (Yen, Koo and Chen are badly-coiffed), pop idol spoofs (Crystal Tin and Sandra Ng's Twins parody is uncomfortably funny), and even the dream-chasing themes winningly recall Hong Kong Cinema comedies from earlier decades. That nostalgia factor isn't explicitly referenced (unlike in Wai Ka-Fai's Fantasia) but it's there if you look for it, and helps make the film better than, say, the 2009 edition. Otherwise All's Well Ends Well 2012 is unremarkable, proving to be little more than a sporadically entertaining time killer for a pre-sold audience. So if you’re a member of that audience: there you go. (Kozo, 2012)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Panorama (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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