Ringo Lam switches gears with Looking for Mr. Perfect,
an action-comedy that's as far from his celebrated
crime thrillers as you could possible imagine. Instead
of the usual cop-criminal dichotomy and male bonding
rituals, we get mistaken identity, silly sound effects
and Simon Yam as a Celtic-dancing bad guy. You heard
that correctly: Yam plays a purple-suited bad guy
who makes like The Lord of the Dance before unloading
with a flurry of semi-acrobatic kung-fu kicks and
assorted fruit throwing antics. That's right, he throws
fruit too. It's that kind of movie.
Shu Qi stars as Grace,
a Hong Kong cop who longs to meet the perfect guy.
Unfortunately, her current romantic status consists
of two sparring suitors (including Raymond Wong Ho-Yin)
who comically attempt to one up each other. Grace
keeps them both on a string, but isn't really enamored
with either. Instead, she has a recurring dream of
a white-suited Prince Charming, who'll arrive out
of the supposed ether and sweep her off her feet.
Not coincidentally, Grace
does run into a white-suited fellow: Aman, played
by Black Mask 2 star Andy On Chi-Kit. They
cross paths when she travels to Malaysia with pal
Joey (the elfin Isabel Chan), but Aman is more than
meets the eye. His real name is Alex, and he's a mercenary-type
on assignment. Here's the deal: Alex is investigating
Grace and Joey because he suspects that they may be
trying to buy a stolen missile guidance system. Here's
why: Joey is a model who's in Malaysia to shoot a
print ad, and her agent Bobby Chan (Lam Suet) is the
broker for the stolen missile system. Here's why it
doesn't make much sense: Grace and Joey spend all
their time acting like boy-crazy young chicks and
NOT international terrorists. Still, Alex and his
partner (Hui Siu-Hung) decide to make following these
girls their chief pastime. Everyone who'd like the
same job, please raise your hand.
Before knocking this
film for its daffy divergence from reality, it should
be noted: this is just a movie. Looking for Mr.
Perfect mines the same action-comedy territory
as half-a-million other movies of no true consequence.
Presumably, we're supposed to take it easy and let
photogenic stars, pretty locations, and a modicum
of funny stuff make up for the fact that the film
has a total absence of narrative, characterization,
and actual filmmaking. It's the same devil's bargain
that Wong Jing proffers every time he makes a film,
except this time it's Ringo Lam asking for your signature
and official seal. Should we sell our soul and go
along for the ride? Is it even possible?
the answer is yes. Looking for Mr. Perfect will never win any awards, and further scrutiny could
only reveal it to be a completely empty cinematic
experience. On the other hand, it possesses a breezy
charm and a lack of pretension that makes it head
and shoulders above something like Summer Holiday.
Grace's search for "Mr. Perfect" is actually
only a minor factor in the film. Though she longs
for her dream guy, her success or failure with that
quest never seems to factor into the film's abundance
of antics. Occasionally she looks wistful, but never
does the camera linger for seven minutes on her pouty
lips while some sappy song plays in the background.
Nor is there one of those manufactured "break
up and make up" sequences where the girl and
the guy go their separate ways, only to reunite for
a tearfully contrived finale. Oddly, Looking for
Mr. Perfect seems to be the wrong title.
So, if the film's not
about the search for Mr. Right, what the heck is it
about? Well, it's about mixed-up identities, mistaken
sexuality, wacky sound effects and over-the-top antics.
Simon Yam is Poon, the nominal bad guy of the piece,
who dances up a storm every time he's about to fight
someone. Alex is an acrobatic mercenary-type who uses
casual athleticism and his beefy physique to beat
the bad guys and charm the ladies. Grace's two weirdo
suitors follow her to Malaysia, and she also bumps
into her informer Chapman To, who's in Malaysia to
pick some pockets. Joey gets all misty over her new
boss David Wu. And, Alex engages in a tag-team kung-fu
fight with Poon and his moll (a quiet Ruby Wong),
where fruit, umbrellas, portable artillery and the
soundtrack to La Bamba come into play. This is one
But it's also a pretty
amusing one. Unlike Wong Jing, Ringo Lam doesn't forcefully
shove the comedy and hijinks down your throat. He
handles things in an effectively mellow way that's
playful, if not a little too silly. The stars range
between photogenic and amusing, and Shu Qi displays
enough requisite sex appeal to entertain the masses.
Even the rocklike Andy On is blandly likable. And
the fight sequences have enough offhand panache and
fun energy to compensate for their essential silliness.
By the time Looking for Mr. Perfect is all
over, it'll either win you over with its screwball
likability, or lose you with its over-the-top antics
and occasionally too-cloying cuteness. This is one
lightweight movie, and in no way qualifies as a must-see
experience. But it isn't really crap, either. (Kozo