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The Attractive One

(left) Lau Ching-Wan and Joey Yung, and (right) Yumiko Cheng and Chapman To.
Chinese: 身驕肉貴
Year: 2004
Director: Matthew Chow Hoi-Kwong
Producer: Joe Ma Wai-Ho, Y.Y. Kong Yuk-Yi
Writer: Matthew Chow Hoi-Kwong, Lau Ho-Leung
Cast: Lau Ching-Wan, Joey Yung Tso-Yi, Chapman To Man-Chat, Yumiko Cheng Hei-Yi, Jia Zong-Chao, Sophie Huang, Wang Yiyi, Lee Fung, Hyper BB, Hiro Hayama, Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin (cameo)
  The Skinny: As Hong Kong romantic comedies go, The Attractive One is damn near interminable. Whatever progress director Matt Chow made with Itchy Heart seems to have left him. Fans of the stars might go home happy, though somehow I doubt it.
by Kozo:

EEG singer Joey Yung goes for romantic lead stardom in the wishfully-titled The Attractive One. Yung plays Yammie, a goofy dog groomer who longs for her first love Tim (Jia Zong-Chao, credited in Men Suddenly in Black as Spirit Blue), who once saved her life after she fell into a pool. Since then, she's yearned for his embrace, but being a goofy romantic lead, she has a fatal flaw. Here it is: a hormonal imbalance that sometimes leaves her sporting a male mustache. Oookay. In the meantime, Yammie starts up a business relationship with uncouth restaurant owner Hugo (Lau Ching-Wan), but after a couple of minutes it's clear that Hugo may find her attractive. She seemingly doesn't return the affection, and when Tim shows up again, she can suddenly achieve her love fantasies. Meanwhile, Hugo pines and pouts, and the audience gets restless.

Immediately, The Attractive One has an issue: it's interminable. The film seems promising at first thanks to the absence of voiceover, a device that appears in four out of every five Hong Kong romantic comedies ever made. However, writer-director Matt Chow doesn't compensate for a lack of tell-all voiceover with anything resembling cinematic emotions. Hugo and Yammie meet under your typical comedy-shtick circumstances, and the two grow close when she turns to him for help finding Tim. You see, she spies him across the road eating a sandwich, so she needs Hugo's dog to track down Tim using the mustard-stained handkerchief he dropped. In the process, Hugo falls for her. Sounds interesting, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, all of Hugo's emotions are developed using lovelorn glances at her reappearing/disappearing male mustache. Meanwhile, Yammie rambles on and on about her aspirations, and her desire to meet Tim again. While supposedly enlightening, Yammie's ramblings do little more than bore.

Fortunately, there's a second romantic subplot. Unfortunately, it's worse than the first one. Chapman To (who still appears in too many movies) plays Hugo's assistant and BBQ chef Butt, who develops a thing for shopping plaza/market manager YY (EEG singer Yumiko Cheng, who deserves better than this). The bespectacled Butt is a self-styled philosopher of love, and an aspiring—though questionably talented—artist to boot. After seeing YY chase after some kids with an embarrassing display of popstar-type gyrations, Butt decides she must become a dancer, and is willing to sell his art to help her achieve that goal. She only wants money, which likely bothers him. It's hard to tell because To plays the character with a smarmy wannabe charm that could rank as the year's most annoying performance. Butt also gets to comment on Hugo's ongoing pursuit of Yammie, though only one or two laughs occur. Note to Chapman To: take a break.

If it's not already apparent, then here's the skinny: The Attractive One is a bad movie made even more disappointing by who's starring in it. Lau Ching-Wan has long been one of Hong Kong's most talented and dependable actors, but his performance here is borderline bothersome. True, the character is supposed to be a rude dope who can't communicate well, but the twists and turns provided by the script only make him seem inconsistent. Joey Yung fares even worse since her character is uninteresting and annoyingly wishy-washy. Sometimes Yammie seems to care for Hugo, and them sometimes not. It ultimately requires Hugo's plot device mom (Lee Fung) to delve into these kids' hearts, but the development of that payoff doesn't make their eventual pairing interesting or even desirable. The only thing the characters have going for them is the actors playing them—which isn't enough. When you consider that the performances are either sub-par (Lau Ching-Wan), unconvincing (Joey Yung), or annoying (Chapman To), The Attractive One appears to have little going for it.

Director Matt Chow's last film was Itchy Heart, an unspectacular but enjoyable romantic comedy about a man experiencing a mid-life crisis. Lau Ching-Wan also starred, and that collaboration with Chow promised at least decent expectations for The Attractive One. Sadly, those expectations are soundly trashed by whatever questionable pseudo-creativity Chow musters for The Attractive One. This movie is bewildering and unaffecting, such that whatever laughs it elicits seem more unusual than welcome. Chow uses grand demonstrations of existential romance to affect, but creates such little interest that suspension of disbelief is never created. It's hard to get involved in a film when the characters don't seem worth caring about, and that's just what happens here. The best thing about The Attractive One may be a cameo by the overexposed Charlene Choi, who shows up as the driver of the "Love Taxi". It's a cheap, cloying bit that nonetheless amuses because it's brief and perfectly suited for the chipmunk-cheeked EEG employee. It's also a moment unworthy of talking about, which is where the ultimate irony occurs. If a film's main talking point is a single cameo, then the rest of the film can't be that good. The Attractive One isn't. (Kozo 2004)



DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
Various extras

images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen