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  Publicity Stills of
"All About Women"
(Courtesy of GV)

In Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles
Director: Tsui Hark
Cast: Zhou Xun, Kitty Zhang, Kwai Lun-mei, Eddie Peng, Godfrey Kao, Shen Chang, Stephen Fung, Alex Fong
RunTime: -
Released By: GV & Scorpio East
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 4 December 2008


ALL ABOUT WOMEN is a stylish, hilarious, romantic adventure; a lively romp into the life and times of trendy, contemporary Beijing through three unique encounters in the lives and loves of three hip yet very different, young women.

Movie Review:

When a known film director leaves his comfort zone to venture into a new genre, there are bound to be raised eyebrows. Tsui Hark, best known for his action films such as "Seven Swords" and the "Once Upon a Time in China" series, has sought yet another new challenge with his foray into romantic comedy after trying his hand at mystery thriller "Missing" earlier this year. The move may not seem too surprising for those familiar with Tsui Harkís career, since he started out as a comedy actor during the 1980ís. To ease his transition, he has brought in Kwak Jae-yong, who directed the influential Korean romantic comedy "My Sassy Girl" as the scriptwriter.

"All About Women" brings together up-and-coming actresses, Chinaís Zhou Xun and Kitty Zhang Yuqi, along with Taiwanís Gui Lun Mei as three entirely different modern Beijing women. We have the desperate endoscopic researcher Fanfan (Zhou Xun), the gorgeous businesswoman Tang Lu (Kitty Zhang) and the tough rock chick Tie Ling (Gui Lun Mei). Initially living separate lives, their fates become intertwined when Fanfanís experiments on pheromones (a chemical substance that influences the behaviour of the opposite sex) turn out to be so successful that she is able to make any man fall in love with her. Her smitten boyfriend (Stephen Fung) happens to be Tie Lingís bandmate, resulting in Tie Ling to bear grudges against Fanfan for causing him to neglect his commitment to the band. To add to the mess, the pheromones also have an undesired effect on Tang Luís not-so-pretty subordinate who is supposed to clinch a business deal in Tang Luís own experiment to prove that beauty counts more than intelligence.

With a director who has his roots on comedy and a Korean romantic comedy specialist at the helm, one would naturally expect a lot from this film. True enough, the slapstick element which is the staple in Hong Kong comedies is definitely at work here, giving the film a cartoonish feel. It is not too frequently applied to the extent that one would think this as a Stephen Chow production, though the exaggerated gags leave the deepest impressions when the film ends. The pace is ridiculously fast, demanding that the audience pay close attention or risk missing any important plot points. As an attempt to show off Hong Kongís prowess in digital effects, one online chat scene has an interesting use of computer graphics. Is it a must for every Hong Kong comedy to have CG effects nowadays?

The film is a platform for all three lead actresses to degrade themselves in terms of their looks. Zhou Xun seems to enjoy playing a nerdish woman, but she still gets to have a makeover later in the film. Gui Lun Mei showcases her masculine side, especially when she boxes in a ring in contrast to her gentler side in Jay Zhouís "Secret". Both portray their roles convincingly well. Kitty Zhang has the easiest job of flaunting her sexy self onscreen that she still looks great even when smoking multiple sticks of cigarettes at once, but the delivery of her lines with her high-pitched voice can be a tad annoying at times.

Tsui Hark and Kwak Jae-yong seem to be content in playing it safe by relying on visual gags and the photogenic female leads to ensure the film makes it in the box office. Although the film is billed as a romantic comedy, it is severely lacking in romance. Amid all the chaos over pheromones which is clearly a plot device here, there is no warmth to be felt due to its aforementioned fast pace. Strangely, there are not that many romantic scenes to start with. Even when a romantic scene is on, it is handled rather swiftly with little effort in building up the emotions. The question of whether true love exists without the use of pheromones is posed, but the film is unable to send a clear message with its mixed answers.

"All About Women" appeals more to the lowest common denominator who wants some quick laughs and pretty faces to gawk at. Those expecting a touching and meaningful romantic comedy should better look elsewhere.

Movie Rating:

(Tsui Hark’s experimental romantic comedy that is best enjoyed with your intellect switched off)

Review by Tan Heng Hau


. Cyborg She (2008)

. Missing (2008)

. Shaolin Girl (2008)

. CJ7 (2008)

. Secret (2007)

. My DNA Says I Love You (2007)

. Ming Ming (2006)

. Perhaps Love (2005)

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