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I Love Hong Kong 2012
 
I Love Hong Kong 2012     I Love Hong Kong 2012

(left) Stanley Fung, and (right) Denise Ho and Bosco Wong in I Love Hong Kong 2012.
Chinese: 2012我愛HK喜上加囍  
  Year: 2012  
  Director: Wilson Chin Kwok-Wai, Chung Shu-Kai
  Producer: Eric Tsang Chi-Wai
  Cast:

Stanley Fung Shui-Fan, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Teresa Mo Sun-Kwan, Denise Ho Wan-Si, Bosco Wong Chung-Chak, Evergreen Mak Cheung-Ching, William So Wing-Hong, Siu Yam-Yam, 6 Wing, Zhang Xinyu, Mimi Chu Mi-Mi, Maggie Siu Mei-Kei, Natalie Meng Yao, Otto Wong Chi-On, Eddie Peng Wai-On, Osman Hung Chi-Kit, Eric Tse Hoi-Wing, Matthew Chow Hoi-Kwong, Guk Fung, Tats Lau Yi-Tat, Louis Yuen Siu-Cheung, Hanjin Tan, Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting, Hui Siu-Hung, Samantha Ko Hoi-Ning, Stephanie Che Yuen-Yuen, King Kong, Bob Lam, Lo Meng, Mak Ling-Ling, Liu Fan, Ma Tai-Lo, Joyce Cheng Yan-Yi, Gill Mohindepaul Singh, Oscar Leung Lit-Wai, David Lo Dai-Wai, Wu Yao-Ming, Koni Lui Wai-Yee, Joe Junior, Christine Kuo

The Skinny: The latest Lunar New Year entry from Eric Tsang and TVB is hardly innovative, but the local focus, topical gags and the occasonal surprise give I Love Hong Kong 2012 the victory over its direct competitor All's Well Ends Well 2012. For Lunar New Year fluff, the film does what it should and it does it well.
 
Review
by Kozo:
Eric Tsang and TVB return to sell some more with I Love Hong Kong 2012, the sequel-in-name-only to last year's Lunar New Year hit I Love Hong Kong. Like its predecessor, I Love Hong Kong 2012 advertises products like Kee Wah Bakery, Itacho Sushi and Hoi Tin Tong herbal tea while pushing local stars and sentiments with equal parts silliness, cynicism and sap. This formula is hardly subtle, but TVBís recent run of Lunar New Year films have managed to be funny and less pandering than their direct competition. Unlike the All's Well Ends Well series, Tsang and TVB's comedies reference greater China by observing its effect on Hong Kong people rather than simply kowtowing in hopes of taking from the China box-office pie. Even if I Love Hong Kong 2012 isn't that good, Tsang and TVB get props for that.

Luckily the movie is pretty OK. I Love Hong Kong 2012 follows curmudgeonly patriarch Kwok Ching (Stanley Fung), a lifelong weatherman at a local TV monopoly who grouses over missed chances while dealing with his kids' turbulent and uninspiring lives. Eldest daughter Mei-Mei (Teresa Mo) tries to conceive with her dopey husband Yao Ming (Eric Tsang, not playing the ex-Houston Rockets center), but she's domineering to a fault. When their sponsored daughter (Natalie Meng) shows up grown up and busting out, the sitcom complications send Yao Ming to the doghouse. Meanwhile, tomboyish daughter Jing-Jing (Denise Ho) is engaged to supermarket salesperson Lok Yi-Ah (Bosco Wong, channelling early-nineties Tony Leung Ka-Fai), but his effeminate nature doesn't pass Kwok Ching's standards. Also, Jing-Jing may or may not be pregnant, throwing another wrench into their planned union.

Youngest Kwok kid Sing-Sing (6 Wing of FAMA) falls for the beautiful, withdrawn Vivian (Zhang Xinyu), who he first spies when he quits his job at the TV station. However, Vivian is the girlfriend of Roberto (an over-the-top William So), the super-rich and super-douchey heir who owns the TV station, a chain of restaurants, the power company and probably half the landfills in Hong Kong. Even though Vivian has zero interest and seemingly zero personality, Sing-Sing resolves to win her love, leading to the most uninteresting subplot in the film and perhaps 2012 Hong Kong Cinema. The family squabbles escalate, black sheep uncle Uncle San (a very funny Evergreen Mak) continues to lounge around the family home, and various unnatural phenomena appear signaling the End of the World. Will the Kwok family get their lives together before the ancient Mayan Prophecy of 2012 comes true?

Story is not a strength here, so letís put that aside. Like all Lunar New Year fare, I Love Hong Kong 2012 is uneven, relying on gags, media references or topical issues to tide audiences through. The subject of humanity's impending doom is very topical, and the filmmakers blend that with a comprehensive skewering of Hong Kong's recent foibles. Property hegemony, unethical media, business monopolies, annoying public figures and family issues are smartly satirized, and there's standard wackiness too, with some gags pushing the boundaries of good taste. Still, it's all in good fun, and the cast is exceptionally game. Eric Tsang and Teresa Mo go all out, especially during a hilarious cosplay seduction where Tsang dons numerous pop culture outfits while Mo attempts fifty-something sexy. And if you need more unexpected couplings, Stanley Fung and Siu Yam-Yam get it on too. Little of these romances is really shown, but the mental images are disturbing enough.

The film also regulates its emotions decently. Rather than try to balance comedy and drama, directors Wilson Chin (Lan Kwai Fong) and Chung Shu-Kai (a zillion unremarkable films) opt for comedy first, and save the bulk of the drama for the third act. That's when the sentiment gets slathered on in an endless, syrupy and too-contrite speech that threatens to alienate. The film doesn't warrant such an overwrought climax, but given the familiarity and the humor with which the film addresses its local topics, the target audience will likely lap it up. I Love Hong Kong 2012 is REALLY local, such that it loses a large percentage of its effectiveness if one does not have an active and informed knowledge of the city, the language or the people. One gag that may travel slightly better: an unexpected parody of Taiwan blockbuster You Are The Apple Of My Eye that amuses in its word-for-word imitation, except that it replaces attractive young actors with disturbing alternatives.

The film lacks the bigger stars of previous TVB efforts, but ultimately little is lost, and having Stanley Fung anchor the cast is smart. Fung is good at drama and also an ace at curmudgeonly comedy, and he's well supported by most of the cast. An ending dance number (a fixture of TVB Lunar New Year pics) trots out the entire library of TVB contract players for a spot-the-star lightning round. Overall, Eric Tsang and company know how to put together a decent New Year movie, balancing schmaltz with satire and a surprising self-deprecation. At one point, the film even throws Hong Kong people under the bus, verbally pointing out their ridiculous and idiotic consumerism. Insulting your audience may be bad form, but it works to the film's advantage, giving it both humor and even humility. There's self-love in I Love Hong Kong 2012, but never self-aggrandizement. I Love Hong Kong 2013? If we're still alive next January, bring it on. (Kozo 2012)

 
Availability:

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
CN Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese/Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

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image credit: TVB
   
   
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