HI! BROTHER (二哥来了怎么办) (2021)

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Cheng Fenfen
Cast: Hu Xianxu, Deng Enxi, Zheng Wei, Dai Lele, Hsi-Sheng Chen
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: Clover Films
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 22 July 2021

Synopsis: Yang Tingfeng and Yang Tingyu are brother and sister. The Yang family lives an unpeaceful life, and became even more turbulent after a new family member: Li Sheng, the son of their stepfather Uncle Li joined in. Faced with the uninvited guest of Li Sheng, Tingyu felt quite unpleasant, but Tingfeng quickly became inseparable brothers with LI Sheng. Tingyu is anxious that this "fake brother" took away her "true brother". At the same time, the relationship between their mother and Uncle Li also encountered problems, and the reorganized family was in danger of falling apart.

Movie Review:

This movie has a plot that has all the potential to be a tearjerker, especially considering that it is a Chinese production. However, there is something about the movie directed by Cheng Fenfen that feels out of place. It might be this reviewer’s age, or his lack of appreciation for the film’s supposed comedic tone. It is a completely different feeling after watching Sister, another recent film by Yin Ruoxin about the relationship between siblings.

The movie opens with a Tingfeng and Tingyu (Hu Xianxu, Deng Enxi), a brother and sister pair playing in a huge house. Yup, you heard that right – playing. The teenagers are having fun in an imaginary space setting, and they are having the time of their lives. This is the perfect opportunity for the filmmakers to incorporate some nifty CGIinto the sequence, an effect which is pretty well done.

The bright, cheery and colourful scene is halted when a young man knocks on the door. We find out that the dude named Li Sheng (Zheng Wei) is the son of their stepfather. This guy is everything they are not. He doesn’t seem to enjoy fun, and he doesn’t talk a lot. Instead of having a simple breakfast of toast, he whips up a mean pot of mouth watering congee.

Tingfeng and Tingyu (which means ‘listening to the wind’ and ‘listening to the rain’ respectively, by the way) plot to irritate Li Sheng so that he will leave the house before their parents return, but the two guys end up bonding instead. That makes Tingyu really upset and next thing we know, the parents come home. Adding more drama are the appearances of their mother’s ex husband, and Li Sheng’s real mother. Having six people under one roof can cause quite a ruckus.

We aren’t sure whether it is a trend in Chinafor actors to put on extremely cute personas for their roles, but this movie has an overdose of that. Hu and Deng spend most of the movie pranking each other, making faces at each other, and speaking at unbelievably shrill voices. While there are occasional funny moments, it can also be quite painful to ageing ears.

The movie’s family plot does make room for some heartwarming scenes. One scene has the family spending a day at the beach, and it made us miss a time when fun was about splashing water at each other and playing table tennis. Then there is this scene where Tingfeng’s mother has a heart to heart talk with him, which is a nice reminder about spending time with our parents.

The main storyline about the dynamics between Tingfeng, Tingyu and Li Sheng gets its rightful resolution by the end of the 105 minute movie, but not before we are treated to more CGIscenes where the siblings are in a wild wild west, some sappy moments where Li Sheng recites poetic praises of his two half siblings, and a some slow mo shots of the brothers enjoying a day in the theme park. Yup, there will be a happy ending, but it won’t be a poignant one which will leave you thinking about the meaning of family.  

Movie Rating:

(There is a nice message about family somewhere, but the young actors' ultra cute personas are distracting instead of entertaining)

Review by John Li


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