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How To Pick Girls Up

(left to right) Wong Jing, Chingmy Yau, Wilson Lam, Sandra Ng,
Maggie Cheung, Elizabeth Lee, Ellen Chan, and Stanley Fung.
AKA: How To Pick Up Girls
Chinese: 求愛敢死隊
Year: 1988
Director: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Cast: Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Stanley Fung Shui-Fan, Wilson Lam Chun-Yin, Wong Jing, Maggie Cheung Man-Yuk, Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Elizabeth Lee Mei-Fung, Ellen Chan Ar-Lun, Charlie Cho Cha-Lei
The Skinny: This 1988 laffer features one of the standard Wong Jing formulas. Said formula has not aged well, but at least Maggie Cheung and Chingmy Yau are in this film. Sadly, even that's not enough to recommend this movie. If you're absolutely bored, or love any one of the stars UNCONDITIONALLY then this could be a pit stop. But really, other movies - or maybe just a nap - would be a better option.
by Kozo:

Longtime fans of Hong Kong Cinema often refer to the late eighties and early nineties as a "Golden Age" of Hong Kong Cinema. A pile of favorites, some critically acclaimed, and some just damn entertaining, were released during those years, leading to many a rose-colored recalling of cinema memories past. However, even the "Golden Age" produced some clunkers. Case in point: How to Pick Girls Up, a 1988 laffer from hitmeister Wong Jing, which proves that you don't need to make a good movie to make a buck. It's a lesson Hong Kong and Hollywood know all too well, and in the financial sense, How To Pick Girls Up may have been a prudent decision. As a film however, there's only one word for this: inexcusable.

Eric Tsang stars as "Love Pain Killer", a radio talk show host who proffers advice to the romantically downtrodden. In reality, he's a chauvinist piece of crap, but somehow he decides to take three hapless lovers under his wing. Wilson Lam is the only semi-decent looking one of the bunch, an ultra-shy virgin who's madly in love with a girl he runs into everyday on the MTR. The girl is Maggie Cheung, so we can sympathize. Meanwhile, Wong Jing plays the the nicest guy alive, and is head over heels over a violent TV actress (Chingmy Yau). He goes to the "Love Pain Killer" to get close to her, which leads to - you guessed it - the sight of Chingmy Yau serving up Wong Jing with a healthy helping of whupass. Finally, Stanley Fung is a foul-mouthed bastard who's in love with gorgeous Elizabeth Lee, so he pretends to be retarded to earn her sympathy. Maybe his uncouth manner is supposed to make him charming, but a swift kick to the head might be more appropriate for this boor. The "Love Pain Killer" could use a beatdown himself; he's a sickening womanizer who mentally abuses his live-in girlfriend (Sandra Ng) so he can have his way with other women. And remember, this is all supposed to be funny!

Amazingly, How to Pick Girls Up can be funny, though the frequency and actual quality of the laughs is under serious debate. Basically, this is the same old stuff you've seen in a billion other Wong Jing movies. Take some semi-attractive to downright ugly guys, and pair them up with women who are their physical and moral superiors. For a good portion of the running time, the guys lie, cheat, and generally deceive the women, all because they're actually supposed to like them. The girls say no, teach the guys a lesson, and then choose to date them anyway. Meanwhile, despite the inherent lesson that a guy should be good to girls, there's misogyny and general cruelty that's played for laughs, plus plenty of time-killing dialogue masquerading as interesting content. Again, you've seen if before: characters in Wong Jing movies generally stand around and harangue each other with semi-witty verbal slapdowns, untranslatable wordplay, or swearing passed off as comedy. Truthfully, some people once considered this formula a decent time at the movies; this could be of more use as a sociology experiment than as actual proof of film quality.

However, like any Wong Jing "Chasing Girls" production, How To Pick Girls Up is review-proof, meaning I can scream and yell about just how bad this movie is, but it won't make much difference. Some people will argue, "But it's supposed to be that way!", and they're right. This is supposed to be lazy filmmaking, and it is lazy filmmaking. Audiences can get their jollies at the lowbrow laughs and abundance of hot girls, whose purpose seems to be to prevent red-blooded males from blinking. Ellen Chan is tanned and toned in her bikini, Elizabeth Lee parades around in tight blouses, and Chingmy Yau and Maggie Cheung are Chingmy Yau and Maggie Cheung - no extra sales pitch is necessary here. The female audiences aren't in luck though, as the males are either uninteresting (Wilson Lam), questionably attractive (Wong Jing, Stanley Fung), or morally reprehensible (Eric Tsang). But hey, this worked for some people at some time, and enough that it apparently rated release on DVD nearly twenty years later. To many audiences, the cheap and cheesy antics of How To Pick Girls Up epitomizes Hong Kong-style filmmaking, which isn't entirely inaccurate. For those who view movies as disposable entertainment, this could fit their bill. For those who view movies as exercises in creativity, or (*gasp*) art, this is a total waste of time.

And yes, it's a bad movie. Sorry. (Kozo 2005)



DVD (Hong Kong)
Intercontinental Video Limited (IVL)
Region 3 (NTSC)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital Mono
Removable English Subtitles
Trailer, Various Bonus Features

images courtesy of Intercontinental Video, Ltd.

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