Director: Xu Zheng
Cast: Xu Zheng, Bao Bei’er, Zhao Wei, Du Juan, Eric Kot Man Fai, Sam Lee
Runtime: 1 hr 53 mins
Rating: NC16 (Sexual Scene)
Released By: Encore Films & Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 1 October 2015
Synopsis: Xu Lai (Xu Zheng), who once dreamt of becoming a painter, has long abandoned his artistic ideals, and turned into a jaded middle-aged bra designer. His everyday life now revolves around pleasing his wife Cai Bo (Zhao Wei) who is obsessed with having children, managing the quirks of his exotic family members, and struggling with his mediocre, ordinary existence. During a holiday to Hong Kong with his wife and her family, Xu plans for a rendezvous with his high school sweetheart who lives in the city. The two used to share the same artistic aspirations. To his dismay, he is hindered by his brother-in-law Lala (Bao Bei’er). Lala is a silly youngster who sells pirated DVDs, but now chases his dream of becoming a director, aiming to make a documentary of his family’s trip in Hong Kong. Besides recording the cityscape and food, Lala’s footage also by accident captures Xu’s secret agenda, and he sets out to stop him. Hilarious antics ensue, as the two try to shake off each other on a tumultuous chase that takes them from Mong Kok to Central and from Nathan Road to Causeway Bay. Policemen, gangsters, foreign sailors and prostitutes all band together in their disapproval for the two, who run for their lives in an action-packed journey throughout Hong Kong. The quest to go on a secret date turns into a thrilling adventure that is fraught with peril. What will happen to Xu Lai and Lala on this unforgettable day in Hong Kong?
There is much to love about Xu Zheng’s latest instalment in the Lost series, but nothing made us more pleased than hearing old school favourites by artistes like Leslie Cheung, Jacky Cheung and Grasshoppers. There are also movie songs from Ching Siu Tung’s A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) and Tsui Hark’s The Swordsman (1990), making this Mainland Chinese production a very apt love letter to Hong Kong’s pop culture.
Xu, a Chinese actor who shot to fame with Lost on Journey (2010), made his directorial debut with Lost in Thailand(2012). With this third episode of the thematic series, Xu has made another appealing movie which will go down well with the masses. It is already a box office hit over the Mid Autumn Festival weekend back home in China, breaking multiple local box office records by earning RMB676 million from approximately 20.7 million admissions over three days. It also set a new record for a single day revenue on 26 September with RMB244 million, previously held by Raman Hui’s Monster Hunt.
The story speaks to die hard romantics. The protagonist (played affectionately by Xu) was an art student in college, but circumstances have made him take on a career as a bra designer. He never managed to kiss his first love, who has become a successful artist. She invites him to Hong Kongfor her new show. He travels there with great anticipation, but coming along is his wife and her family. There’s also a pesky brother in law who wants to make a documentary with his video camera. In the mix are two Hong Kongcops, an apparent suicide, plus lots and lots of running.
Audiences will be fondly reminded of the fun Hong Kongmovies from the 1990s. The road trip buddy comedy delivers all the laughs in the right places. Watch out for a well executed chase sequence through a brothel, which will leave you in stitches. There are also enough action scenes choreographed by Chin Ka Lok to keep you at the edge of your seats.
Xu has a likeable ensemble cast to work with. Zhao Wei (Dearest, Hollywood Adventures) plays his wife – a woman who has given up her dreams to devote a life to her marriage. Du Juan (American Dreams in China) takes on the role of Xu’s dream lover with elegance and class. Bao Bei’er (So Young, Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal) borderlines on being an irritant by portraying an insistent documentarian. Hong Kongstars Sam Lee and Eric Kot play cops in the 113 minute movie, putting their Cantonese accented Mandarin to good use.
The real star here, of course, is Xu himself. Playing a man who is coming to terms with middle age life crisis (complete with a small tummy and a balding head), the 43 year old actor from Shanghaihits the spot with his sometimes movingly bittersweet performance.
Cinephiles will enjoy the references to Wong Kar Wai films like Days of Being Wild (1990), Chungking Express (1994) and 2046 (2004). John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow (1986) is also mentioned as a homage to Hong Kong’s crime genre movies. Viewers will also have a field day spotting cameo appearances by notable Hong Kong celebrities like Wong Jing, Kingdom Yuen, Lam Suet and Richard Ng.
The finale is a feel good one, concluding the energetic flick on a heartwarming note.
(The entertaining buddy comedy is full of energy, delivers non stop laughs, and is ultimately a love letter to the beloved Hong Kong pop culture)
Review by John Li