Site Features
- Asian Film Awards
- Site Recommendations

- Reader Poll Results

- The Sponsor Page
- The FAQ Page
 
support this site by shopping at
Click to visit YesAsia.com
Asian Blu-ray discs at YesAsia.com
 
 
 
 
 
Marriage with a Fool
     

(left) Stephy Tang and Alex Fong, and (right) Pace Wu and Fong.
Chinese: 獨家試愛  
Year: 2006  
Director: Patrick Kong
Producer: Paco Wong
Writer: Patrick Kong
Cast: Alex Fong Lik-Sun, Stephy Tang Lai-Yun, Pace Wu (Ng Pui-Chi), Sasha Hou Sa-Sa, Leila Tong Ling, Wong Cho-Lam, Kayle Kwan Ji-Tung, Marco Ngai Chun-Kit, Theresa Fu Wing, Shaun Tam Chun-Yin, Chan Sau-Chu, Philip Ng Won-Lung, Fire Lee, Tin Kai-Man, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu
The Skinny: Well-meaning and even a little ambitious, Marriage with a Fool is sadly a failed attempt at something better than your usual popstar fodder. The actors try hard, but the lackluster script and storytelling only make them look silly. Nice try, though.
 
Review
by Kozo:
On March 23rd, 2006, two films starring Alex Fong Lik-Sun were released in Hong Kong Cinemas. Having resources to see only one of the two, I ended up checking out Marriage with a Fool, produced by Mei Ah Film Entertainment with an assist from Gold Label, the artist management company run by Paco Wong. In the film, Fong and fellow Gold Label labelmate Stephy Tang (of Cookies) play newlyweds who find their picture-perfect marriage challenged by a variety of circumstances, among them the return of an old flame, money problems, and general incompatibility. Other circumstances that get in the young couple's way: screenwriting, direction, and just misguided filmmaking. Basically, Marriage with a Fool is a bad movie. And if you're a Hong Kong film fan residing in the Western Hemisphere, you may be asking, "Who is this Alex Fong guy anyway?"

First of all, this isn't the stoic, sometimes cool Alex Fong from such films as One Nite in Mongkok, Double Tap, or - if you're really stuck in the past - Pretty Woman. That's Alex Fong Chung-Sun. We're talking here about Alex Fong Lik-Sun, the former Olympic athlete who moved from swimming to singing, and finally to celluloid. He also appears in about a zillion advertisements, and that's just the tip of his overexposure resume. Besides having two films open the same week, Fong is also pushing rice in shirtless ads in MTR stations all over Hong Kong, plus he hawks local eatery Cafe de Coral with DJ Sammy AND he even pushes a local electronics retailer alongside Gold Label pals Stephy Tang and Theresa Fu. Stephy and Theresa are also in Marriage with a Fool, which possesses songs by superstar Ronald Cheng, who also belongs to - you guessed it - Gold Label. Once you decipher the degrees of separation, Hong Kong Entertainment casting can be knee-slapping fun. It's like a popstar jigsaw puzzle coming together, or a bizarre game of Cantopop connect the dots. For management types, it's called synergy.

But no amount of fun facts can save Marriage with a Fool from being a bad movie. The film opens with Wah (Fong) and Bobo (Tang) getting it on during their first night of wedded bliss. The two immediately begin fighting - while relentlessly snogging - over whether to keep the light on or not, which qualifies as marital issue number one. Number two shows up real quick. The two bicker over taking an expensive vacation; Bobo wants to go, but Wah doesn't, because he's a rather poor fellow who works in a pet store with his crappy buddies. Bobo works in a karaoke joint alongside her main female friends, where they get to comment on their customers. Various couples (including Theresa Fu and Ti Lung offspring Shaun Tam) break up and make up at the karaoke, which leads to some existential conversation about how working in a karaoke joint can show you the full range of life (Wow, how deep!). Sadly, Bobo and her pals are supremely suspicious of Wah. From minute one, they seem to be expecting him to stray, and if a phone call doesn't get answered, it MUST mean that the guy is cheating. What distrustful women.

Sadly, the women do have reason to distrust Wah. Though he seems like a standup guy, Wah still has a minor thing for his former tutor Josephine (Pace Wu), and behaves like a guilty dope when pressed about his friendship with her. This leads to one clever comedy bit - Wah and his buddies race home to convince Bobo that they were at home watching football instead of courting women - but it also hammers home the film's relentless point: this marriage is doomed to fail. Which it does, leading to a separation and romantic entanglements with other parties. Writer-director Yip Lim-Sum (My Sweetie) manages to create fairly realistic characters. Both Wah and Bobo are seemingly likable people, but their flawed humanity leads them to misunderstandings - which start out minor, but soon escalate into things that cannot be undone. As the flawed couple, Alex Fong and Stephy Tang are effective, and manage to run the full gamut of emotions in a fairly convincing fashion. Human beings are generally petty, wildly emotional, and even pathetic creatures, and both actors seem willing to put those emotions onscreen. At least the couple seems real.

However, whatever reality the film creates is submarined by a contrived story and questionable filmmaking. Though Bobo and Wah experience a fairly realistic breakup, the circumstances that follow descend into standard movieland. Bobo finds near-romance with a wacky toilet paper salesman, who steals toilet paper from the karaoke for research, and spends hours dispensing the redeeming qualities of 3-ply TP. People start acting less like people and more like programmed screenwriter mouthpieces, spouting undue metaphor or behaving noble in blatantly unrealistic ways. Also, the film is full of pace-killing flashbacks. The flashbacks are effective in the beginning, as they illuminate past events from different perspectives. However, by the end of the film, the flashbacks start to occur simply to compensate for neglected exposition. When the climactic meeting between the estranged couple occurs, we're treated to no less than two flashbacks DURING their meeting, each bearing a narrative purpose that's completely transparent. The overdone emotions and painfully obvious music cues seal the deal. Maybe they tried to make a good film, but the filmmakers didn't go about it the right way.

To the film's credit, it doesn't rely on cute shenanigans like most of its contemporaries, and even attempts a bit of thematic complexity towards the end. Still, the ending seems tacked on, not to mention a little self-important, especially after some of the cloying plot devices employed only ten minutes earlier. It's great to want to have your movie do more than just entertain, but meaning should be earned. Marriage with a Fool doesn't, and smacks audiences with an ending that only makes everything that happened before it seem fruitless. You might find some truth to what the film finally says, but the way in which the film got there doesn't feel true at all. It just feels inappropriate and ultimately unsatisfying. Like some marriages, Marriage with a Fool has good intentions, but the execution and outcome tarnish everything. (Kozo 2006)

 

Availability:

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

images courtesy of www.mov3.com

   
 
 
LoveHKFilm.com Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen