Eric Tsang's previous He Sui Pian 贺岁片 (Asian movies made specially for the Chinese New Year period) 72 Tenants of Prosperity 72家租客 was a success. In the battle of Lunar New Year comedies, it defeated All's Well, Ends Well 2010 at the Hong Kong box office. "Critically" wise, 72 Tenants of Prosperity was my favorite He Sui Pian since the first installment of All's Well, Ends Well( that starred a certain Stephen Chow) With the success of 72 Tenants of Prosperity, Eric Tsang and his crew are back with I love Hong Kong 我愛HK開心萬歲 to usher in this Chinese New Year.
The setup for I Love Hong Kong would be as followed.
Ng Shun (Tony Leung Ka-Fai)'s toy business just went bankrupt and had no choice but to relocate his family into his dad (Stanley Fung)'s place at one of Hong Kong old estates. It turned out that Ng Shun is not the only one returning to the old estate. His old friend Tok Shui Lung (Eric Tsang) and his old lover So Ching (Anita Yuen) had both return to the estate too. But it was not going to be an easy reunion as they have parted in a not-so amicable situation. Ng Shun still remember how Shui Lung ran away with the estate's charity funds 20 odd years ago and caused his dad to bear the loses.
Meanwhile Ng Shun's family is finding a tough time to adapt to the new life. Ng Shun's wife Shun So (Sandra Ng) rejoined the working class to help out with the financial burden. Work is not easy as her junior staff is now her immediate supervisor and she faced bullying in the workplace.
His son Ng Ming (Aarif Lee) is having troubles relocating back to the old estate as his job as a Food and Environmental Hygiene Department staff, he had caught many of his new neighbors. To make matter worse, his girlfriend (Fala Chen) is the daughter of one such hawker (Wu Ma) that was caught by him.
Lastly, Ng Shun's daughter Ng Chi (Mag Lam) is a model wannabe. The problem is that she lacks the figure and is unwilling to wear skimpy clothing to get ahead in the model industry.
The plot escalate when Shui Long promises to revive the old estate by revitalizing the current shop houses and allocate new cheap shop houses for the neighbors to start their own business. The neighbors rushed into signing a contact with Shui Long to capitalize in a deal that seemed too good to be true. It turned out that it might just be too good to be true as external developers turned up to buy over the old estate and Shui Long is no where to be found.
Comparing I Love Hong Kong to 72 Tenants of Prosperity, this one felt less comedic and is more prone to making social commentaries on some of the Hong Kong government bureaucracy. Although these social commentaries are intermixed with comedic set up (such as how the Ng family had to frighten a housing board officer off with spook story due to potential eviction), it can come off as a little too preachy for a He Sui Pian.
The story is also not well constructed and lacks a real direction as compared to 72 Tenants of Prosperity. Was it about the bonding between Ng Shun and his family members? or was it about old friendship and trust between friends? What was the story for the youngest member of the Ng family? I love Hong Kong took on too many elements and the various story arcs didn't gel well to bring out a decent story.
But then again, the He Sui Pian's main function would be to bring in laughter for the festive seasons and it's been a long time since I laughed so hard in cinema.
Sandra Ng is the comedic gold for her performance in I Love Hong Kong. There are two Sandra Ng scenes that made me laugh out loud. The first one would be Sandra Ng getting all wrapped up in plastic for a slimming demonstration but no one bothered to unwrapped her afterwards. The poor Sandra had to find her way back home in a wrapped up situation. It's hard not to laugh when you see a Sandra Ng activate her smartphone with her hands all tied up.
The second one would be Sandra Ng accepting a stunt double job to meet TVB Wayne Lai. Needless to say, she got whack a lot and suffered plenty of bruises from that job. This kind of comedic setup had been done plenty of times but it's still exceptionally funny due to the precise timing and editing for this segment.
There are plenty of funny moments and celebrity cameo spotting opportunities in I Love Hong Kong. Though some of the celebrities might not be well known in Singapore (or at least I am unaware of them) and the story lacks a strong main driving force, I Love Hong Kong is still entertaining to catch during the Chinese New Year period.
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