In Mandarin (with Chinese & English subtitles)
Director: Feng Xiaogang
Cast: Shu Qi, Ge You, Yao Chen, Sun Hong Lei, An Yi Xuan, Liao Fan
2 hrs 3 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Clover Films
Official Website: http://feichengwurao2.hbpictures.com/
Opening Day: 3 February 2011
Synopsis: After returning from Hokkaido and ending her affair with Mr. Fang, Xiaoxiao realizes that she is tired of being in love with anyone at all. Her complicated feelings return, however, as she continues to see Qin Fen. Though Qin is caring and fun loving , he can sometimes be as fussy as a little child. How can she have a serious relationship with a man who still behaves like a child? Her feeling towards Qin have never reach the point of love. For Qin Fen, Xiaoxiao is the perfect girl to spend his life with. What's more important, he knows that he is not getting any younger. So he tries desperately to transform his dream of marrying her into reality. As a test to see if they are a couple who can actually live together, Qin rents a villa in Sanya on Hainan island. And so begins their daily life together …
Feng Xiaogang’s 2008 romantic comedy “If You Are The One” was a refreshingly honest and witty look at the unlikely coupling between two people- the middle-aged entrepreneur Qin Fen (Ge You) and the younger and more attractive Xiaoxiao (Shu Qi)- that won the hearts of millions in Mainland China, thus becoming the territory’s biggest box-office hit before Feng’s own “Aftershock” last year displaced it from its perch. So rather than leave Qin Fen and Xiaoxiao to their bittersweet ending, Feng and his co-writer Wang Shuo have brought them back for more romantic encounters- well, at least for the first half of this sequel.
When we meet Qin Fen and Xiaoxiao once again, Qin has gone on bended knee to propose to Xiaoxiao high upon the Great Wall of China. This location- as well as the later picturesque locations- comes courtesy of the Beijing Tourism Administration, whose involvement in this film has pretty much ensured its slick and glossy packaging. Xiaoxiao isn’t quite sure they are suitable for marriage yet, even more so after she witnesses the divorce ceremony between their best friends Xiangshan (Sun Honglei) and Mango (Yao Chen) officiated by none other than Qin.
That divorce ceremony is an apt example of how Feng Xiaogang had so cleverly subverted the clichés of the standard rom-com, which is the reason for its predecessor’s success. Unfortunately, it is undoubtedly the highlight of this sequel, the rest of the ploddingly long two hours failing to live up to the wit and the humour within this single sequence. It is also a film of two halves, which seem too disparate to belong together in the same film.
The first half is set in coastal Sanya in Hainan province, where Qin and Xiaoxiao retreat for their trial marriage. At this ravishingly beautiful touristy spot, they start devising ways to test how the other half loves or would love through different phases of a marriage- beginning with the seven-year itch and culminating in Qin’s impending physical infirmity. Qin’s cheekily flirtatious means to get Xiaoxiao in bed are mildly amusing, but this first-half is ultimately let down by its own absurdity.
Indeed, there is little humour or purpose to be found in Qin’s insistence on confining himself to a wheelchair and waiting on Xiaoxiao to take care of him- food and sanitation included- especially since it is no more than an act. In fact, Qin’s doggedness comes off not only pointless, but foolish, since it is no more likely to cement their marriage plans than to destroy them. And sure enough, by the end of the first half, Qin and Xiaoxiao have split up, back to leading their separate lives- though there are obvious hints that the two still long for each other.
Feng’s ploy to get Qin and Xiaoxiao together is to bring the supporting characters, Xiangshan and Mango, to the forefront of the film, leading to a melodramatic second half that is too drawn-out for its own good. In particular, the extended weepy finale does its potentially sharp concept no favours, and Qin’s concluding speech about the frailties of life come off trite and hollow compared to the emotional impact of Feng’s earlier “Aftershock”.
If there is one pleasure to be had in this sequel, it is to see Ge You and Shu Qi back in their respective roles. Ge You nails his pragmatic yet idealistic character down perfectly, and his sharp delivery of some of the film’s best lines never fails to entertain. On the other hand, Shu Qi is at her most relaxed here, and her unaffected performance combined with her natural beauty is always alluring.
Still, Ge You and Shu Qi are ultimately let down by a script that doesn’t seem to have any clever ideas left, exacerbated by Feng’s typical unhurried approach that would have worked- as in the first film- with a sharper and more purposeful story. The ending hints at a possible third film in the series, but going by the likes of this sequel, Feng Xiaogang better have something much more substantial to say than in here to justify his audience’s time.
(A pointless and banal sequel lacking in the wit and humour that made its predecessor such a delight)
Review by Gabriel Chong