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My Sassy Hubby


Charlene Choi has a sassy husband in Ekin Cheng in My Sassy Hubby.
AKA: My Wife is 18 II  
Chinese: 我老婆唔夠秤II:我老公唔生性  
Year: 2012
Director: James Yuen Sai-Sang
Producer: Ng Kin-Hung
Writer: James Yuen Sai-Sang, Ng Man-Cheung, Andy Lo
Cast: Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin, Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin, Zhang Xin-Yi, Jones Xu, Joyce Cheng Yan-Yi, Wylie Chiu, Wong Cho-Lam, JJ Jia, Lo Hoi-Pang, Siu Yam-Yam, Elva Ni, Sandy Lamb San-San, Derek Tsang Kwok-Cheung, Nelson Cheung Hok-Yun, Kelvin Kwan Chor-Yiu, Louis Cheung Kai-Chung, Mr. (Alan, MJ, Dash, Ronny, Tom), Renee Dai Mung-Mung, Chu Fun
The Skinny: Enjoyable and inconsequential sequel to the enjoyable and inconsequential My Wife is 18. It helps to have familiarity with and affection for Noodle and Ah Sa. Not great cinema but perfectly fine for popstar-fueled fluff.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Talk about your unexpected sequels. My Wife is 18 was a modest hit way back in 2002 so if a sequel were in the offing, you’d think it would have happened years ago. But ten years later? Turns out that now is the perfect time, as My Sassy Hubby puts Thirteen Cheung (Ekin Cheng) squarely at year forty, just in time for a midlife crisis and a reassessment of his marriage to the 12 years-younger Yoyo Ma (Charlene Choi). My Wife is 18 was not great cinema but it possessed an endearing streak highlighted by a surprising performance from the fresh-faced (at the time) Choi. The taller Twin showed an unrefined presence, but she managed a beguiling emotion beneath her sassy immaturity. My Wife is 18 gave Charlene Choi’s annoying antics justification and depth, an accomplishment that earns the film points even a decade later.

Unfortunately Choi is less effective in My Sassy Hubby. She enunciates far better than in the original film (Choi’s phonetic prowess in My Wife is 18 rivaled that of an infant) plus she has a wider comedic repertoire (Choi’s funny comic accents recall her fine turn in Simply Actors) but she fails to make Yoyo Ma identifiable. This time, it’s Ekin Cheng’s show, which is more than fitting since, like Thirteen Cheung, he’s at a critical age. Ten years after their lightning nuptials, the thirty-nine year-old Thirteen Cheung is a university professor who lectures pretentiously on the subject of love. Meanwhile, Yoyo Ma co-owns a boutique, where she can annoy unsuspecting customers while also taking their money. The strain shows in the marriage; Thirteen is frequently impatient with the sassy Yoyo, while she does whatever she wants over his objections. Something’s ready to give – all it requires is that one little push.

The couple actually gets three pushes. Yoyo’s old friend Potato (Jones Xu a.k.a. Izz Tsui a.k.a. Jeremy Xu) returns to her life, and makes a point of reminding Yoyo about a childhood promise to marry him. Yoyo doesn’t seriously consider the idea, but given the tension with Thirteen, Potato makes the perfect new playmate. Meanwhile, Thirteen is drawn to one of his students, Maggie (Zhang Xin-Yi), a professional model who unlike Yoyo is articulate, sexy, can cook and doesn’t harangue Thirteen 24/7. The kicker is a letter they receive that states that the priest who married Thirteen and Yoyo back in 2002 was not licensed to do so. Ergo, Thirteen and Yoyo are not actually married and can go their separate ways without a divorce. Is Thirteen now free of his 28 year-old wife and will he use the opportunity to shop for an even younger one?

My Sassy Hubby’s outcome is rarely in doubt, but the characters are familiar and amusing enough to make their adventures engaging. Thirteen is a logical and identifiable character; his midlife crisis makes complete sense, and Ekin Cheng’s self-effacing dope act has some real-life connection to the aging actor. Thirteen Cheung is a man in his late thirties who has to grow past his extended childhood and reach a new stage in adulthood – how is this character not a perfect parallel to the mid-forties, soon-to-marry Ekin Cheng? Interestingly, Cheng’s real-life partner is also named Yoyo (Cheng’s fiancée is actress Yoyo Mung) but this gossip isn’t really relevant. What is relevant is that Cheng plays a character near his age and personality (e.g., likable, playful and a bit immature), and he easily convinces. Choi doesn’t inhabit Yoyo as well, but she and Cheng share a comfortable onscreen rapport.

Director-writer James Yuen keeps the situation comedy rolling, but development is sparse with most progression or change signaled by awkward exposition from the peanut gallery. Too many characters speak with unsolicited wisdom and the score can be annoyingly on-the-nose. However, comic timing is good and the co-stars provide welcome spark. Joyce “daughter of Lydia Shum” Cheng is a fun surprise as Yoyo’s cousin and Lamb San-San (a.k.a. Ekin Cheng’s manager) cameos to keep continuity with the first film. The funniest is Wong Cho-Lam, who steals all his scenes as a loud and unapologetically uncouth neighbor. Jones Xu is unremarkable as Potato while Zhang Xin-Yi shows striking presence. Her character is a complete male fantasy (sexy, smart, culinary savant) but this is a movie about a guy who wrote his thesis about women while also admitting that he doesn’t understand them. Films with this ridiculous a premise get some leeway.

Besides situation comedy, Hong Kongers get some topical satire, and callbacks to the original film should delight audiences with good memories (or who own the DVD). Though he’s not a great actor, Ekin Cheng is an undeniable Hong Kong film star and catching up with him ten years later is enjoyable. Even Charlene Choi eventually engenders sympathy – not because Yoyo Ma earns it, but because this is Charlene Choi and we’ve seen her grow up in the movies. The best thing about My Sassy Hubby may be the comedy bits during the end credits, which depict Thirteen’s past birthdays and the wacky ways the couple celebrated. The bits play off of established personalities and audience goodwill, which is what anyone paying to see this movie really wants. Assuming the audience is watching because of “Noodle” Cheng and Ah Sa, star-powered fluff like this is ample reward. My Sassy Hubby offers the opportunity to reconnect with some old Hong Kong Cinema friends, and really, that’s all it has to do. (Kozo, 2012)

 

Availability:

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Universe Laser (HK)
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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Image credit: Universe Entertainment

   
   
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