Director: Liu Guonan
Cast: Sammi Cheung, Joseph Chang, Joyce Feng, Jin Qiaoqiao, Lam Suet, Terence Yin
Runtime: 1 hr 38 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Sexual Scenes)
Released By: Clover Films and Filmgarde Cineplex
Opening Day: 16 February 2017
Synopsis: Bo is the new assistant to Jin, a beautiful CEO. But he is yet to know the real motive of hiring him. In a trip to Paris, the pair is romantically involved. Jin gets pregnant and breaks up with Bo. What kind of game is Jin playing? Bo goes to Paris again to discover the hidden truth...
Don’t be fool by the somewhat whimsical looking poster thinking its yet another disposable romantic comedy starring Sammi Cheng. Love Contractually might not magically resurrect Cheng’s fading star power. However it’s a title that has the ability to prove the once reigning Heavenly Queen still has what it takes to carry a movie.
Betrayed by her two-timing fiancée (Terence Yin in two brief scenes), the no-nonsense CEO of AXA, Katrina (Sammi Cheng) decides to look for a sperm donor so that she can have a son without the process of physically and emotional attached to a man. In comes Xiao Bo (Joseph Chang), a rugged courier who is unknowingly tricked by Katrina and her scheming assistant to become the targeted donor. So how in the world do these two unlikely persons end up together in the end? We are pretty sure you are not expecting anything tragic.
Credit has to go to Zhang Yimou’s regular assistant director turned director Liu Guonan and his two screenwriters for not turning this into a lumbering detestable affair, which many Hong Kong and China co-productions tend to turn out nowadays. Although I must first add the first 30 minutes has plenty of unfunny gags liked Xiao Bo’s awkwardly strip dancing and prior to that, Xiao Bo and Katrina dancing to avoid the attack of a revengeful staff.
Thank God the bumbling comedy factor is thrown out of the window subsequently and the movie proceeds to tell a meaningful story of its two leading characters. There’s a decent background story explaining why Katrina developed OCD and why she refused to visit her dementia father (Lam Suet). The character of Xiao Bo might be obsessed and will do anything for money but that doesn’t make him a bad person. Decent, mature writing that works way better than watching two compatible actors acting silly for 98 minutes.
Taiwanese Joseph Chang (Sky on Fire, Murmur of the Heart) even though lacking the typical handsome leading man looks think Eddie Peng or Andy Lau somehow has that untamed charisma to charm the audiences. Pairing opposite Sammi Cheng, it’s definitely a rewarding experience watching them bickering on the big screen for the first time. Cheng who has cut down her onscreen appearances and singing gigs (apparently due to health reasons) in recent years is remarkably endearing as the long-suffering Katrina.
Love Contractually might end on a predictable note but like a wise man or was that a wise ad once says, it’s the journey that counts. Production values are solid because at least a quarter of the movie is shot in Paris, a country that oozes romance at every corner. Last but not least, it’s always welcome to hear a fresh Sammi’s love tune.
(The actual movie turned out better than the poster, all thanks to Sammi Cheng mostly)
Review by Linus Tee