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My Kung-Fu Sweetheart

(left) Yuen Qiu and Yuen Wah, and (right) Leo Koo and Cecilia Cheung
Chinese: 野蠻秘笈  
Year: 2006
Director: Wong Jing
Producer: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Cast: Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi, Leo Koo Kui-Kei, Yuen Qiu, Yuen Wah, Sammy, Wong Yat-Fei, Qian Jiayin, Ma Shuchao, Shi Lan, Lin Xue, Wong Jing, Hui Siu-Hung, Lam Suet, Samuel Pang King-Chi, Yuen King-Tan
The Skinny: Sometimes funny, but mostly unnecessary. The film's title and director Wong Jing suggest that My Kung-Fu Sweetheart will be a derivative, low-brow, and utterly disposable exercise in crappy commercial cinema. It is.
by Kozo:

Wong Jing returns - in more ways than one - for My Kung-Fu Sweetheart, a completely useless and totally unnecessary action-comedy that delivers Wong Jing goodness with every second of its too-long 90 minute running time. Crappy dialogue? Check. Unnecessary movie parodies? Check. Nonexistent characters? Check. Ripped off jokes? Check. A man in a giant condor suit? Um...check. If you like your movies senseless and completely unoriginal, then My Kung-Fu Sweetheart delivers. It also assaults, annoys, and sometimes even amuses. We're not totally uncharitable over here.

Ubiquitous Cecilia Cheung stars as Phoenix, a kung-fu princess with awesome bone structure and impressive lineage. Her parents (Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu) belong to the "Secret Society of Kung Fu Masters", who hide their true identities while ferreting out evil martial artists who roam contemporary China. After learning her parents are martial arts superheroes, Phoenix gets the go-ahead to train in the misty mountains, where she learns of her all-important romantic destiny: to fall in love with a man who sees her when she isn't supposed to be seen. Flash-forward to the present and the now-adult Phoenix is an office lady who primarily uses her powers to prevent work tardiness. One morning, while scaling the building, she's seen by rich kid Dragon (Leo Koo), who, duh, sees her when she isn't supposed to be seen. It's love...or at least, she wants it to be.

Unfortunately, Dragon has problems. Namely, he's a dope, plus people are trying to kill him. While attending a business party, Dragon witnesses the massacre of everyone present by the minions of the evil White Eyebrows (Ma Shuchao). As the sole survivor, he's naturally next to get offed, but Phoenix wants to protect him. To do so, she'll need the help of her now-estranged parents, plus her pet condor, who's played by a guy in a fake suit that resembles the San Diego Chicken. She'll need all the help she can get; White Eyebrows is actually the most sought-after evil martial artist around, and learned the "Classic of the 9 Negatives", meaning he's supposed to be nigh-unbeatable. Luckily, there's some invincible stance that can only be performed by a family of two loving couples. Can the two couples get together in time to stop White Eyebrows from, uh, being evil?

Not surprisingly, the answer is yes, though if you expected anything else then you're definitely in the wrong theater. My Kung-Fu Sweetheart is standard Wong Jing stuff, meaning it borrows liberally from a trillion other sources without actually giving back, and possesses next to no drama. Though there are secret alliances and martial arts rivalries at stake, Wong Jing's script is lackluster and boring, and his staging as exciting as landfill. Dramatic exposition is usually dispensed in morosely-acted long takes, and the romantic scenes are dry and snore-inducing. The action itself isn't too bad, though the CGI is crappy, and Wong cheapens everything with an overreliance on contrived strobe lighting. The acting is uninteresting too. Leo Koo is bland, while Cecilia Cheung gains points for simply being professional. Yuen Wah and Yuen Qiu manage to act like their pairing still contains some novelty, while last year's most annoying actor, Sammy, looks to take home the crown again. Even Kung Fu Mahjong possesses more inspired performances, though My Kung-Fu Sweetheart is an acting clinic compared to Kung Fu Mahjong 2.

Still, acting is unimportant here, as are drama, real emotion, or any semblance of creativity. This is a Wong Jing movie, and the man does here what he does best: deliver a crappy cinema experience with sometimes amusing and even infectious glee. My Kung-Fu Sweetheart may be an out-and-out stinker, but it seems to make no bones about it - and with the quality issue tabled, some fun stuff does rise to the surface. The most amusing stuff: the parodies of martial arts literature and iconography, which begin with some punny names (the names of some characters are wordplay on famous martial arts authors) and end with the crappy-looking condor. An obvious nod to Jin Yong's Return of the Condor Heroes (the bird's ownership papers even list Yeung Gor and Dragon Girl as former owners), the condor is so cheesy and bad looking that it probably wouldn't even qualify for a Roger Corman picture. And when Cecilia Cheung scolds the man in the bird suit with a curt, English-spoken "bad bird", that could be worth a good 15% of your ticket price. It's not worth your full 8 bucks, but not much from Wong Jing is.

A couple other high (or low) points: a brief parody of Johnnie To's The Mission, and the revelation that the world's greatest martial arts scroll has been lost because - get this - it was written in English! Wong Jing even shows up in another supporting role, and the guy actually manages to be funny. The director plays Itchiban, a martial arts master skilled in invulnerability, who works at a zoo and beats up the crocodiles at any given chance. Oddly, Wong may be a better actor than a director, though that compliment has less to do with his thespian skills than the fact that he churns out lousy movies. Wong's filmmaking credo seems to be "anything goes, and it usually sucks"; the man makes bad cinema, and given the way that his films are put together, it's plainly obvious that he knows it too. By appearing in his own crappy movies, Wong Jing is basically saying that even he can't make things any worse - and he doesn't. If bad movies are the given goal, then My Kung-Fu Sweetheart is a success. God help us. (Kozo 2006)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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images courtesy of Chinastar Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen