A CHOO (打喷嚏) (2020)

Genre: Romance/Drama
Director: Kevin Ko & Peter Tsi
Cast: Kai Ko, Ariel Lin, Wang Ta-Lu, Vanness Wu, Zhang Xiao Long, Kate Tsui, Louis Koo
Runtime: 1 hr 42 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence and Sexual References)
Released By: mm2 Entertainment
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/AChoomovie

Opening Day: 23 July 2020

Synopsis: As a boy who had grown up in an orphanage, EJ (Kai Ko) met Hsin-Hsin (Ariel Lin), the one girl who’d care and hold him close to heart. Blossoming into a deep, mutual affection, Hsin-Hsin became the single most cherished soul in EJ’s young heart. For some reason, whenever Hsin-Hsin thought of EJ, she couldn’t stop sneezing. As they grew up, Hsin-Hsin left the orphanage to work in the city. EJ on the other hand, swore to be “the bravest man” to earn Hsin-Hsin’s love, and devoted himself to become a boxer. Through his unyielding love for Hsin-Hsin, EJ became a legend in the boxing ring as the “man who could not be knocked-out”. Yet as the evil Dr.Cube schemed in the shadows, threatening Hsin-Hsin’s life with all sorts of dangers, EJ will soon learn that his true purpose lies not in becoming some superhero, but to be the one-and-only superman for the person he cares most in the world. 

Movie Review:

It took almost six years for A Choo to make its way to the big screen. The trouble began when Kai Ko was embroiled in a drug case with Jaycee Chan shortly before the movie was due to release in October 2014. Since the scandal, Ko has basically dropped out of the radar and A Choo has been stuck in limbo. News has it that Ko’s rich dad and producer Giddens Ko has bought over the rights, which explains why audiences in Taiwan and Singapore gets to see it first.

Before we get to the movie proper, we wonder does a six years delay actually make a difference for a movie that co-stars Wang Ta-Lu, Ariel Lin, and Hong Kong actress Kate Tsui? For a start, Wang Ta-Lu’s star power of course has risen over the years. From a co-star to a leading man as seen in Our Times and Fall in Love at First Kiss. Ariel Lin has sort of went into semi-retirement mode, while Tsui has officially announced her exit from showbiz. And what about Kai Ko then? Let’s just say his acting and persona here is stuck between the year of 2011 and 2014.

In this romcom which include a superhero twist - yes you read that right - the superhero theme is not a metaphor nor is it a dream sequence. EJ (Ko), Hsin Hsin (Lin) and Chieh Han (Wang) are good friends growing up in an orphanage. EJ has a soft spot for Hsin Hsin and vows to marry her when they grow up. Whenever Hsin Hsin thinks of EJ, she will sneezes unwittingly. It’s cute and also explains the movie title. Then comes the bongus part. An evildoer, Cube (Vanness Wu) is aiming to retrieve a powerful energy source called Hypermatrix and two superheroes, Flash (Louis Koo) and Sonic (Zhang Xiao Long) are out to stop him. First that is really Louis Koo in an uncredited cameo and Sonic is later revealed to be dating Hsin Hsin.

To fully enjoy A Choo, you probably need to first buy into Giddens Ko’s way of telling this unconventional love story. Realistically, both narratives are too contrived to be brought to life in a same movie. Maybe in a Marvel movie but definitely not a Taiwanese romcom. What does EJ’s determination in being an undying boxer got to do with winning Hsin Hsin’s love just because she declares she loves brave men. And what is the purpose of Flash’s entire presence other than providing a few cheap laughs? And where is Sonic when Cube appears to hold Hsin Hsin as hostage in the end?

The relationships between the numerous characters are simply not well-written; even the romance between EJ and Hsin Hsin appears weak and delicate like a piece of forgettable puppy love. Comparing this to Giddens Ko’s box-office hit, You Are the Apple of My Eye, this is a massive letdown. Giddens toys with the idea of using “superhero” as a theme to illustrate the power of EJ’s determination and undying love for Hsin Hsin. But unfortunately the end results just comes across as childish and unintentionally mushy. There’s a bit of goofball humour thrown in though a bit more of that would have done wonders.

In a fast moving world where audiences are constantly distracted by social media and numerous movie releases a year, a six-year gap indeed makes a lot of difference. If following its planned release in 2014, A Choo probably will be a huge hit given Kai Ko’s sky-high popularity at that time. However with the success of Our Times and Café Waiting Love, A Choo simply doesn’t cover enough ground to capture the emotional require to immense oneself in EJ and Hsin Hsin relationship. Sadly, even Ko’s last romcom, the mediocre When Wolf Falls in Love with Sheep fares better.

Movie Rating:

(Feels ambitious but falls flat in terms of execution, A Choo is a romcom with ironically a superhero twist)

Review by Linus Tee


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