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Marry a Rich Man

Sammi Cheng delivers propane in Marry a Rich Man.
Chinese: 嫁個有錢人  
Year: 2002  
Director: Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu
Cast: Sammi Cheng Sau-Man, Richie Ren, Candy Lo Hau-Yam, Wu Fung, Jan Lam Hoi-Fung, Cheung Tat-Ming, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, Mark Lui Chun-Tak, Angela Tong Ying-Ying, Eileen Tung Oi-Ling, Ken Wong Hap-Hei, Joe Cheng Cho, Lee Kin-Yan, Fung Min-Hun
The Skinny: Is this really a good movie? That's debatable, but Marry a Rich Man is a pleasant diversion with winning performances from Sammi Cheng and Richie Ren. If you count yourself among Hong Kong's popstar-obsessed populace, then you probably won't be disappointed. For a Lunar New Year film, this fluffy flick does the job.
by Kozo:

After a three-year hiatus, director Vincent Kok returns with Marry a Rich Man, a decidedly fluffy Lunar New Year Comedy starring box-office queen Sammi Cheng and her Summer Holiday co-star Richie Ren. Cheng plays Me, a propane delivery girl whose former classmates show up to brag about their rich husbands. Not helping matters is her father (Wu Fung), who constantly says that Me is a princess, and will marry a rich man and not some low-income bachelor like the ones that surround their Harmony Village home. Me's other option seems to be her best friend MT (Candy Lo), who wears her bisexuality on her sleeve and occasionally propositions Me.

Thanks to all of these factors, Me snaps and declares to the heavens (ala Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind) that she must marry a rich man. Cut to Destiny, Inc., a mysterious company that hears Me's cries via satellite. They decide to help her out by sending her a missile/package bearing a book entitled "Glass Slipper." It's a guide for hooking a rich man, which Me avidly follows. Her quest involves dressing like a rich person and hanging out in rich person circles, i.e. golf course, sanitariums for the rich, and most importantly, first class air flights to Europe.

It's on a flight to Milan that Me meets Christmas (Richie Ren), a cute, rich Hong Kong resident who immediately takes a shine to Me. She thinks she's hit the jackpot, but as soon as they land the two are pick-pocketed by a local. Undaunted, they go on a "poor man's date," making the run of Milan without a penny. And the two get along famously, leading Me to the conclusion that her cynical gold-digging plans have worked.

But that's only half the movie, and something is bound to happen which will stymie their materialistic romance. Well, something does, and quite frankly that's when the film really begins to pick up. Marry a Rich Man really takes its time to get going. The first half hour plods along with some strained comedy and too much reliance on Cantonese wordplay. The only thing it has going for it is Sammi Cheng, who's winning despite the calculated hijinks put forth in the script. The movie looks like it's going to be an overly bouncy, materialistic joyride featuring pretty people and little else.

Thankfully, that changes when the second half of the movie arrives. It gives Richie Ren a chance to show his stuff, which was noticeably absent in Summer Holiday thanks to his too-loveable character and Cantonese dubbing. Here, he handles his own Cantonese dialogue in a funny, game performance that shows he's not above a little comic embarrassment. He and Cheng have better chemistry this time out, and the film gives us better supporting characters, too. Candy Lo, Cheung Tat-Ming and Wu Feng turn in funny support, but it's Jan Lam who steals the show as Wilson, one of Hong Kong's richest men and one of it's strangest, too. As Me's alternative suitor, he turns in a deadpan, underplayed supporting role that gives the film a real lift.

All of the above helps offset the movie's obvious shortcomings: it's a Lunar New Year film designed to provide maximum return for an undemanding audience. Vincent Kok is a better director than Summer Holiday's Jingle Ma; he manages to sustain interest without resorting to manufactured pathos or slow-motion montages. I'm not giving anything away when I say that it all ends happily. That's what you expect from a movie like this, and they do their best to give us the super mega-mega happy ending. Yes, they want our heroes to be soulful, decent people who'd give up money for love, but they want them to be obscenely wealthy as well.

How they do all this would give away the plot (or the plot device, in this case), but it's not really important. What's important is this: did you like Sammi? Did you like Richie? Were they cute together? Was the film even passably funny? The answer to all the above is yes; this movie can be deemed enjoyable. That is, unless either performer gives you hives or you simply HATE Lunar New Year comedies. Then by all means, avoid this movie like the plague.

But the truth seems to be that audiences feel otherwise. Marry a Rich Man is further proof that Sammi Cheng rules the Hong Kong box office. Pitted against films starring Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (her leading men from 2001), her film scored a decisive victory over both. Marry a Rich Man was the number one Chinese film this past New Year. Cheng's death-grip on the viewing public may be the greatest case of mass hypnosis since everyone went to see The Ring. (Kozo 2002)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Golden Harvest Home Video / Modern Audio
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen