It's official: China makes lousy youth comedy-romances too. From writer-director Yang Zi, Chase Our Love chronicles the battle of the sexes between the "Alliance of Geeks" and the "Single Best Girls," two unmarried groups headed for single lives. The boys and girls battle each other on the Internet via a massively-multiplayer-online-role-playing-game (MMORPG) and look to undermine each other in real life too - though the reasons why are hard to fathom. Actually, it’s hard to understand why anybody in this film does anything that they do. The Alliance of Geeks has a hidden leader (Wong Yau-Nam), who goes by the name "Little Boy," and the Single Best Girls are determined to ferret out his identity. I’d say why, but I’m not sure it even matters. And we're just getting started with the inanity.
Little Boy used to be a particle physicist, but now spends his time wearing flannel shirts and writing an amateur manga. Single Best Girls leader Han Jing (Gan Ting-Ting) is one of Little Boy’s fans, but she doesn't know his true identity. Duh, romance blossoms, but Little Boy still carries a torch for his first love Promie (Yu Yue). Elder geek Mr. Geekzer (Kenny Bee, who's old enough to be the father of nearly all his co-stars) has a only-in-the-movies quirk: he can't touch women because he'll faint instantly. He meets Minnie (Zhang Xinyu), who he can actually touch, but tragically she has a brain tumor OH GOD NOT THAT PLOT DEVICE AGAIN. Finally, Hwa (Ye Jing) works undercover for the Single Best Girls, but his allegiance remains unclear. His handler is the tough Liu Ting (Zhao Ke), who he loves unconditionally, but instead of returning his affection she’d rather stare into space disdainfully. This is obviously the romance of the decade.
The problems with Chase Your Love number well into the hundreds, but the inept script and direction are a good place to start. The concept of two warring groups of guys and girls is not a bad one, and some filmmakers (think Pang Ho-Cheung) have made good use of this exaggerated dynamic. The problem is that Yang Zi doesn't set up his geek or otaku world in a convincing or interesting manner. There's no initiation into the rules and mores of each group, and the audience is given little reason to care about their conflict. One imagines that male viewers would side with the Geeks while female viewers would side with the Girls, but neither side develops even the minimum amount of sympathy. Adding to the lack of identification: most of the actors are newbies or nobodies. Well, they might be popular in China, but after this film, they’re probably not anymore.
For the Hong Kong Cinema familiar, there are some relative bonuses. Besides the middle-aged trio of Kenny Bee, Edmond Leung and William So, there’s Lee Kin-Yan, a.k.a. the guy who crossdresses in Stephen Chow films. Lee delivers his usual dress-in-drag shtick, which works until one realizes that he’s been doing this for nearly twenty years. Then the horror sets in. At the very least, the film has perennial screen pair Stephy Tang and Alex Fong. Neither performs more than adequately, but Tang is fetching as the “Goddess of Geeks,” a sweet Single Best Girls representative who dresses up in fan-baiting cosplay. Alex Fong is amusing as the Alliance of Geeks’ enforcer, who sadly isn’t paired with Stephy Tang’s Goddess of Geeks. Instead, she’s paired up with Asian fashion victim He Jiong in a useless story about two former lovers who want to reunite but don’t. There’s a reason for all of this, but relating it is more trouble than it’s worth.
If it sounds like I’m being dismissive of Chase Your Love, you’re correct and the film absolutely deserves it. This is just a bad movie. The story barrels forth with little rhyme or reason, the script is full of routine jokes and everything is told via exposition. Also, what little onscreen action or character development exists is basically handled through even more conversation. Add this droning bore of a story to the unremarkable acting and already incomprehensible Geek vs. Girl conflict and you have a failure of filmmaking that should be grounds for some sort of anti-film legislation. Really, Chase Your Love is so bad that if it had recognizable product placement, it would be considered a legitimate highlight. Let’s make it simple: if you had to choose between an unnecessary surgical procedure and Chase Your Love, you should opt for the surgical procedure. At least they'll give you drugs for the pain. (Kozo, 2011)