Director: Chen Daming
Cast: Andy Lau, Gong Li, Russell Wong, Li Chengru, Wang Deshun, Osric Chau, Yuan Li, Julien Chen
RunTime: 1 hr 56 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Opening Day: 17 February 2011
Synopsis: Andy Lau, an advertising executive, who develops the ability to listen to women’s thoughts, he locks horns with his new boss, played by Gong Li.
Following Benny Chan successful remake of the Hollywood action thriller "Cellular", HK Heavenly King Andy Lau joined hands with several Mainland investors under his Focus Films banner to adapt the 2000 Nancy Meyers’s romantic comedy "What Women Want" back into the big screen, this time in Mandarin of course.
According to producer Dede Nickerson, this 2011 version retains much of the plot structure of the original but then again it has been more than a decade and Mel Gibson has literally went lethal weapon while Helen Hunt has faded from the limelight. Unless you want to hunt down a copy of the DVD or catch the rerun on network television, it’s hard to tell the differences.
Anyway, Lau plays Sun Zi Gang, a chauvinistic ad executive and a divorcee with a teenage daughter who happens to gain the ability to listen women’s inner thoughts after a freak incident. His initial intention to get rid of rival using his newfound ability, senior ad executive Liu Yi-Long (Gong Li) failed as he realizes he has slowly fallen in love with the tough-as-nut career woman.
For actor-director Chen Daming (One Foot Off The Ground), on a certain level, he did accomplished a respectable job helming his first major commercial flick. The cast are good looking, the production values are definitely A-plus given the mediocre US$5 million budget and the inclusion of contemporary China’s social views is an eye-opener. Yet, Chen’s overall adaptation treads on safe ground and never attempt to surprise the audience given the obvious predictability towards the end. The relationship between Sun and his baritone father with his daughter, Doudou is at times bittersweet and a reflection of today’s fast-moving society. The bantering between Sun and his cleaner auntie easily qualifies as the best thing in the movie. Unfortunately, these genuine entertaining moments are few and short as Chen, understandably so has to cater more screentime to his two biggest stars of Chinese cinema.
Evergreen Lau no doubt has the biggest screen-pie of all. The 50 year old actor (who looks closer to 40 instead) is a charmer onscreen as ever. He dances, he clowns around, he disguises as a woman, he even sings in English to impress Liu Yi-Long and the female demographics. See he really can listen to women’s thoughts. International starlet Gong who after a long hiatus is still a luxury to watch, her screen presence is captivating and imposing. But pairing Lau with Gong on paper seems godsend as the two biggest stars of all time hasn’t work together before. However, both stars achieved little or no chemistry at all. Lau and Gong shines in their respective moments here but put the two of them together, everything becomes mundane and should I say, boring. Sammi Cheng has worked with Lau on many occasions and you wonder if Cheng would have done a better job with Gong’s character.
The rest of the supporting cast members are filled by competent unknown Mainland actors and actresses with the exception of Julien Chen, one third of the once popular pop group, "Little Tigers" and a cameo by American-Chinese actor, brother of Michael, Russell Wong. And other than some insensitive product placements which can rival a typical Jack Neo’s production, “What Women Wants” also serves as a showcase of how good the Mainland movie industry is compatible of in terms of technical abilities and a fast-developing fantastic-looking metropolis called Beijing.
Ultimately, this remake of the Hollywood version is a forgettable romantic comedy. There is so much potential to develop the material further and yet Chen only manages to churn out something glossy that lacks much substance to enjoy. Perhaps next time just do "What Men Want".
(What a man wants is a surprise factor to win us over not just glossy visual and cast)
Review by Linus Tee