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My Wife is Nineteen: Yoyo Returns

Charlene Choi and Ekin Cheng: back for more cradle robbing!
Year: 2003
Director: James Yuen Sai-Sang  
Producer: Ann Hui On-Wah  
Writer: William Goldman, Wong Jing  
Cast: Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin, Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin, Gillian Chung Yun-Tung, Josephine Siao Fong-Fong, Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Eric Kot Man-Fai, Chapman To Man-Chat, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Law Lan, Hui Fan, Lee Fung, Ha Ping, Siu Lam, Gong Fu, Ho Yeah
The Skinny: Ekin Cheng and Charlene Choi return in this sequel to last year's most guilty pleasure. This is an Ekin Cheng film, so obviously it's the greatest film ever made.

     Yay! A sequel to My Wife is 18! When we last left Thirteen Cheung (Ekin Cheng), he and eighteen year-old bride Yoyo (Charlene Choi) had just decided upon a future of wedded bliss. We catch up with them on their honeymoon in Iceland, as they're sharing some good times beneath a bearskin rug. Unfortunately, the bad guys catch up with our pair. It seems that Cheung's recent graduate thesis won him the coveted Fullbody Award, which should have gone to Ka Ming (Chapman To), who wrote a thesis on the perils of underage dating. With revenge in mind, he and Uncle Wing (Anthony Wong) attempt to take out Thirteen Cheung and Yoyo in a grand ski chase across the Icelandic tundra. Cheung escapes thanks to his nifty skiing skills and proficiency with a M-60. Sadly, Yoyo appears to have been killed when a large killer whale (Keiko from Free Willy) swallowed her whole.
     One year later, Cheung has returned to Hong Kong, but he's so depressed that even his new job at St. Peter Martin Catholic School for Girls doesn't bring back his pep. Luckily there's Momo (Gillian Chung) a sweet young eighteen year-old who takes a shine to her new nuclear physics teacher. She invites Cheung back to her home, where he meets Mom (Josephine Siao), who has designs of her own on the virile thirty-one year-old Cheung. Cheung dodges the twin mother-and-daughter romantic bullets, but Momo's attentions awaken the loneliness within him. Despite initial setbacks, the two begin a tender affair, punctuated by soft-focus close-ups and lots of blooming flowers. Cheung has discovered a new eighteen year-old girlfriend to heal his injured heart. Momo is just happy that she doesn't get carded anymore at bars.
     But, Yoyo returns. She was never swallowed by the killer whale, and was rescued by Chinese superspy Ling Ling Gau (Jordan Chan). Now nineteen, she's hurt to find that Cheung has moved on, but in reality Cheung hasn't. He may be bedding Momo on a regular basis, but he's always loved Yoyo. Sadly, miscommunication prevents the lovers from a teary reunion, and Ling Ling Gau is only too happy to fill the void. He's been lusting after Yoyo since Finland, and would like nothing more than to get his own nineteen year-old wife. Then, Ka Ming and Uncle Wing return, this time with three henchmen (Siu Lam, Gong Fu, Ho Yeah) who practice the mystic martial arts of Zu. Can Thirteen Cheung, Yoyo, Ling Ling Gau and Momo stop the evil people? And what about Professor Siu Mai (Eric Kot), who recently discovered the secret of time travel?
     Unlike it's predecessor, My Wife is Nineteen: Yoyo Returns dumps the dippy situation comedy for kick-ass spy action and even more May-December romance. Thanks to the appearance of Momo and Ling Ling Gau, a morass of love problems occur, which would probably be easy going if it weren't for KGB spies and Anthony Wong in hot pursuit. You'd think the mishmash of genres (romantic comedy, spy thriller, biting social commentary, infomercial) would be ill-fitting, but director James Yuen makes things work. It's likely he had a hand from producer Ann Hui, as the film is touching and posseses a wonderful narrative sense. Though our heroes must save the world, we can't help but be drawn into their compelling romantic difficulties. That the film is only seventy-seven minutes makes My Wife is Nineteen an even bigger triumph.
     But, the film would have been total and absolute crap if it weren't for Ekin Cheng. His ability to swing between soulful lover and righteous kick-ass hero is nearly unparalleled. In one amazing sequence, he declares his undying love for Yoyo while simultaneously breaking the neck of a KGB mole and signing autographs. Such a sequence seems over-the-top and irretrievably silly, but Cheng displays remarkable emotional depth as well as an astounding kung-fu grip. Also, Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi shine with their delightful chemistry and a fifteen-minute musical number. That's right, there's a fifteen-minute musical number which takes place in the torpedo room of a Russian nuclear submarine. Again, you'd think such a sequence would never work, but amazingly it does! This marks new territory for Hong Kong's flagging film industry. To be honest, our admiration has never been greater. (EkonCheng 2003)


image courtesy of Universe Laser & Video Co., Ltd.

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