Director: Cheng Wei Hao
Cast: Hsu Kuang Han, Austin Lin, Gingle Wang, Tsai Chen Nan, Ma Nien Hsien, Wang Maan Chiao, Tuo Chung Hua
Runtime: 2 hrs 9 mins
Rating: R21 (Some Homosexual Content & Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 31 March 2023
Synopsis: Ming-Han is a passionate policeman. One day, while arresting a criminal with his beautiful colleague Zi-Qing, Ming-Han accidentally picks up a red envelope, and a group of people suddenly jumps out and calls him their "son-in-law". They ask him to get married to their dead child, who is a dead guy! Ming-Han finds it impossible to accept this decision. However, he did not expect to meet with so much misfortune since then. Even more terrifying is that he begins to see his ghost husband Mao-Mao which scares Ming-Han to death. Ming-Han visits a great master to get rid of Mao-Mao. The master tells him that he must get married to Mao-Mao and fulfil Mao-Mao's wishes, otherwise, Mao-Mao will follow him forever. To get rid of Mao-Mao, Ming-Han has no choice but to help him fulfil all his wishes. At the same time, Mao-Mao also acts like Ming-Han’s partner to help him with a drug smuggling investigation. A fantasy journey full of laughter and tears between a straight man and a gay ghost begins.
A mainstream movie about a homophobic straight policeman who is forced by circumstances to go through a ghost marriage with a dead gay man is one of the most interesting premises we’ve heard in a while, but you can also bet it’s getting a R21 rating in Singapore. This means that younger viewers will not be able to enjoy this very entertaining movie that has been earning big bucks at Taiwan’s box office.
The living groom is Wu Ming Han, a cop who is loud, egoistic and not ashamed to show that his bigoted personality. The character also happens to be played by Hsu Kuang Han (My Love), a good looking Taiwanese actor who tries his very best to be unlikeable when he first appears on screen. The dead groom is Mao Pang Yu, whom we later learn is an advocate of fighting climate change and a dog lover. He is portrayed by Austin Lin, another popular Taiwanese actor who has been lauded for his performances in movies like At Café 6 (2016) and I WeirDo (2020).
Pang Yu, who is also affectionately known as Mao Mao, was about to get married to another man (same sex marriage is legal in Taiwan) when he met with a fatal accident. Heartbroken, Mao Mao’s grandmother made arrangements for her grandson to find a husband in his afterlife, and the dude who walks into the setup is, of course, the tough dude Ming Han. What happens next are some predictable but hilarious scenes between the “dumb straight guy” and the “damned gay” that will leave you laughing a lot. For fans of the two leads, it also helps that they are eye candy.
The plot then becomes a crime drama where Ming Han and Mao Mao investigate how the latter was killed. In the meantime, there is also a drug lord (veteran actor Tsai Chen Nan) on the loose, and the cops are determined to track him down. Ming Han’s colleagues include an ambitious female officer (Gingle Wang) and a fumbling superior (Ma Nien Hsien). After a few failed busts, you may wonder where the movie is going, and then you’re treated to a finale that contains twists and a series of very funny gags. We won’t give away too much here.
The 129 minute movie also touches on some emotional themes that may move you in unexpected ways. The ‘spouse relationship’ between Ming Han and Mao Mao becomes a genuine friendship, and the performances by Hsu and Lin are commendably touching. The LGBT topics are appropriately handled, and the strong inertia faced by family members is explored too. Two other veteran actors Wang Maan Chiao and Tuo Chung Hua play Mao Mao’s grandmother and father respectively, and Tuo’s stirring performance in a tear jerking scene may just make him a favourite contender during awards season. The star studded cast also includes Liu Kuan Ting and Aaron Yan who show up in cameo roles.
The commercial movie directed by Cheng Wei Hao has mass appeal and is engaging from start to finish. It is also fun and has some interesting topics to get viewers thinking.
(When a "dumb straight guy" marries a "damned gay ghost", the result is a very entertaining movie that also has some emotional impact)
Review by John Li