DUDE'S MANUAL (脱单告急) (2018)

Genre: Comedy
Director: Kevin Ko
Cast: Dong Zijian, Elaine Zhong, Jessie Li, Yuan Fufu, Wu Yi-yao, Liu Mengmeng, Xi Jingyan
Runtime: 1 hr 41 mins
Rating: PG (Some Sexual References)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 10 May 2018

Synopsis: He Xiaoyang, who is single for four years, is mistaken as head girl Guan Xin‘s love interest by accident. To get rid of He Xiaoyang, Guan Xin decides to help him pursue the most beautiful girl in campus Li Shushu. With Guan Xin’s help, He Xiaoyang learns the most efficient way to pursue a girl. But he can’t figure out whether there is really a way to face his true love.

Movie Review:

It seemed like a perfect movie for this reviewer to gather some tips on hooking up a love interest. After all, the protagonist of this romantic comedy has also been single for the longest time, and is on a quest to lose that status. The difference between the two dudes? The character is forced into the situation, as compared to this writer, who appears to be plain sluggish.

Back to the movie. The boyish Dong Zijian plays a high school student who gets into an embarrassing misunderstanding with the campus belle. Without giving too much away, let’s just say it involves a shirtless guy, a girl who has her head placed at an unfortunately inappropriate position, and vomit. This sparks the quest for them to clear up the mess. What’s the best way to do this? For the dude to find a girlfriend in the shortest possible time.

Dong, who impressed us with his touching performance in At Café 6 (2016), is the right fit for the role. The fresh faced young man has a lazy charm and there is no reason to dislike this dude. He is the friend who will say yes to all your requests, no matter how unreasonable they are.

The other Mainland actors in the movie may not be familiar faces in our region, but they each portray their character well. Elaine Zhong, who garnered attention and got a nomination for Best New Performer at the 54th Golden Horse Awards for her performance in Youth (2017), plays the female protagonist who has grand plans for the dude to get hitched. The 25 year old actress is easy on the eyes, and we hope to see her in more movies. Jessie Li has a smaller role of the target of the project, and puts her dreamy eyes to good use. The actress, whom you may remember from Port of Call (2015), was recognised with a Best Actress accolade at the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards.  Yuan Fufu and Jin Jin play the dude’s two best friends with the right goofiness, and is a constant source of laughter in the 101 minute movie.

To be honest, the movie poster doesn’t seem to suggest that this is a show that you’d pay attention to. But give it a chance and you will be pleasantly surprised with how the story plays out, from being a screwball comedy to a remarkably heartfelt story about true love. The side plots work as well, because they each have a message to send.

While you already know who the dude will end up with 15 minutes into the movie, there are still some innovatively created sequences which will make you sit up and pay attention. Watch how a cinema going experience is scientifically broken down into whether a couple will end up together, and the different permutations of how you can court a girl in a bar. These clever approaches, coupled with the cast’s winning performances, work in an otherwise formulaic movie, making it a thoroughly enjoyable movie to sit through. Will this writer buck up to do something about his love life after watching this movie? We’ll see.

Movie Rating:

(The romantic comedy's winning cast and clever segments make it a highly recommended date movie)

Review by John Li


You might also like: