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Love Detective
Love Detective

Ivana Wong in Love Detective.
Chinese: 沒女神探  
Year: 2015  
Director: Jil Wong Pak-Kei  
Producer: Shirley Yeung, Patrick Kong
Writer: Patrick Kong  

Ivana Wong, Pakho Chau Pak-Ho, Cheung Chi-Kwong, Jacqueline Chong Si-Man, Joyce Cheng Yan-Yi, Bob Lam, Justin Cheung Kin-Seng, Joe Tay, Anjaylia Chan Ka-Po, Shiga Lin Si-Nga, Heidi Li Jing-Yi, Cheronna Ng, Anita Chui, Edmond Tong, May Chan Ka-Kai, Patrick Kong

The Skinny: Star vehicle for recent award winner Ivana Wong is the textbook definition of awful. Wong will likely not be hurt by this misfire but for discerning audiences, Love Detective is the equivalent of a maiming. I liked it more when it was called Miss Congeniality, Beauty on Duty or someone’s bad idea.
by Kozo:

A Patrick Kong film that isn’t a cynical romcom used to sound like an interesting idea, but the success (or not) of the unfortunate 2014 film Delete My Love may have disabused us of that notion. So it goes with Love Detective, Kong’s latest lazy laffer, which is credited to director Jil Wong (Guilty and S for Sex, S for Secret). Make no mistake, however: This is a Kong product through and through. Love Detective stars recent Hong Kong Film Award Best Supporting Actress Ivana Wong as Bo Wong, a police detective with a 189 IQ but a crappy romantic life. After being completely wrecked in her breakup with douchey boyfriend Peter Poon (Edmond Tong), Bo disappears from her job for a year. However, when Peter is assaulted a year later, Bo is called back by Chief Johnny To (Cheung Chi-Kwong, who does not resemble the Milkyway Image maestro in any way, shape or form) to apply her celebrated sleuthing skills to the case.

The criminal suspects all hail from Da Yue Entertainment, run by maybe-gay trust fund kid David Cheng (Pakho Chau). Da Yue’s only product is girl group Yogurt, consisting of manager Jaquelin (Jacqueline Chong) and idols Ballball (Shiga Lin), Mimi (Heidi Li) and Jojo (Anjaylia Chan). Bo goes undercover as the company’s cleaning lady but thanks to manufactured and totally nonsensical plotting, she ends up as the fourth member of Yogurt in place of previous member Gigi (Cheronna Ng), who disappears and is basically forgotten. Bo is famed for not being what most men consider attractive, so she gets leng mo (“young model”) lessons from three disgusting police force geeks (Bob Lam, Joe Tay and Justin Cheung), leading to lots of icky gags but little in the way of actual story progression. Eventually, love blooms between Bo and the actually-heterosexual David and the bad guy is outed. Laughs occur along the way, but not enough to make up for the shame.

Love Detective deserves some notice for being the first starring role for Ivana Wong, whose performance is OK and does little to help or hurt her status as a breakout star. Wong is keenly aware of her lack of classic beauty and possesses an admirable sense of abandon, and her timing and physical comedy instincts are solid. However, her Love Detective antics are left to speak for themselves, with sometimes tiresome or drawn out results. Better direction, editing, etc., would have helped but so would better material. The premise of Love Detective is already clichéd, and it doesn’t help that Patrick Kong’s script is so lazy. The film consists of drawn-out gag set-ups and not a coherent narrative, as the filmmakers rely too often on mugging and overacting to sell scenes. It’s not wrong to ask for the bare minimum of story progression or character development, but this film offers neither and essentially expects the audience to accept a murder mystery with no sense or logic. If you don’t play along with Kong and co., no jury would convict you.

The dialogue is also worse than previous Kong efforts, with plenty of Kong’s trademark long-winded exposition but little of his entertaining and acerbic pop-culture references. The film does find some success when it gets pervy. One character can’t keep his hands out of his pockets and is basically the Hong Kong Cinema equivalent of Conan O’Brien’s Masturbating Bear – though, considering how they’re portrayed, actual geeks might wish to file a class action lawsuit against the filmmakers. Overall, the filmmakers set political correctness back about four decades, but we probably shouldn’t care because a film needs to matter before it can be considered damaging. As is, undemanding audiences might enjoy Love Detective’s brain-dead amusement, and the film is better than the very worst Patrick Kong films (i.e., The Best Plan is No Plan). Regardless of what happened here, Ivana Wong very much deserves further chances at big-screen stardom. I’d still welcome anything starring Wong, though the hinted-at sequel to Love Detective is not my preference. And hopefully no one else’s either. (Kozo, 9/2015)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
CN Entertainment Ltd.
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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