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Super Model

     

Karena Lam and Ronald Cheng glam and ham it up in Super Model .

Year: 2004
Director: Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu
Producer: Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu
Writer: Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, Patrick Kong (Yip Lim-Sum)
Cast: Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Karena Lam Ka-Yan, Sammy, Kenny Bee, Rain Li Choi-Wah, Sam Lee Chan-Sam, Conroy Chan Chi-Chung, Cheung Tat-Ming, Tang Chi-Fung, Wong Yat-Fei, Tin Kai-Man, Jim Chim Sui-Man, Tats Lau Yi-Tat, GC Goo Bi, Alex Fong Lik-Sun, Simon Lui Yu-Yeung, Ricky Hui Koon-Ying, Jo Koo, Siu Yee, Joe Cheng Cho, Chapman To Man-Chat, Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Shawn Yue, Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, Kelly Chen, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
The Skinny: Ronald Cheng scores another comedy hit in this amusing, though blatantly derivative version of the American comedy Zoolander. Cheng shows good comic form, and some of the jokes are funny, but overall this is just another silly Hong Kong comedy designed to please those who don't expect much from the movies. If you're one of those people then perhaps Super Model is for you.
Review
by Kozo:
     Comedy prince Ronald Cheng gets another solid hit with the 2004 Hong Kong comedy Super Model. A completely obvious rip-off of the 2002 Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander, Super Model casts Cheng as an embarrassingly glam male model who has to contend with a variety of professional and personal crises, none of them remotely serious or even that interesting. Director-writer-producer Vincent Kok doesn't do much to make this more than an obvious comedy vehicle, as the film's story—or series of semi-random events and situations masquerading as a story—is pretty weak. But the concept is funny, albeit stolen, and Cheng does his admirable best to tickle your funnybone. Cheng and Kok get the job done in a passably amusing fashion, though that's really not a cause for celebration. To be more blunt: Super Model doesn't totally suck, but it isn't really good either.
     Cheng stars as male model Mandom, a supposedly popular model with incredibly fake glutes and a fashion sense that's more high camp than high class. When he receives a threatening letter, Mandom goes straight to the cops, and exits with his new protector: frumpy cop Karena (Karena Lam), who wears glasses, has pimples, and dresses like a slacker/tourist, complete with crappy untucked shirts and an omnipresent fanny pack. She can't stand Mandom, and he feels the exact same way. Does anyone not think that their mutual hate will soon give way to manufactured attraction? If so, then you should really try watching a second movie sometime. Like any manufactured comedy intended for a wide audience, the presence of two actors of differing sexes at the top of the credits immediately equals a love subplot. By the end of Super Model, Mandom and Karena will be a couple. Anything else would be a surprise, and possibly a sign of creativity.
     Mandom has other issues. His supremacy in the world of male modelling is about to be challenged by vapid newcomer Fantasy (Sammy Leung AKA DJ Sammy AKA Sammy), a fit bohunk who's partnered with an icy female model (Rain Li), and mentored by a pudgy former male model (Kenny Bee), who acts ingratiating but really isn't. Fantasy is Mandom's biggest challenge at the "King Model Show", a winner-takes-all fashion show that will crown the industry's supreme hunk of manflesh, and Mandom won't miss the event, even if it means his life. Mandom also needs a female partner for the contest, and his ego dictates that he can win with just anyone. Duh, his foes challenge him to make a model out of the frumpiest girl in the room: Karena, leading to your standard Pygmalion subplot that's as exciting as an empty stapler. Cue 105 minutes of terrible fashions, overdone mugging, homosexual gags, and general silliness which is sometimes funny, and sometimes not. One common response may be to start checking your watch.
     Super Model is basically just another day at the office for writer-director-producer Vincent Kok, who should get his "writer" credit removed thanks to the obvious Zoolander rip offs. Aside from the stolen concept, Kok lifts jokes, scenes, and even the overall structure of Zoolander without so much as a "based on" credit. Not that such cinematic larceny is uncommon. On the contrary, everyone from Wong Jing to John Woo has been guilty of plot plagarizing, though in the case of Super Model it's a little too overt. At least John Woo's Bullet in the Head wasn't a complete carbon copy of Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter. It may have lifted characters and even a few scenes, but overall it was a different film. Sadly, Super Model's biggest difference from Zoolander is that it's simply not as good a movie. Zoolander's wit was much sharper, and the comedy much more outrageous. Super Model possesses the comedy edge of a dull razor, and feautres only semi-amusing jokes instead of drop dead hilarious ones. Minor cultural clashes, homosexual jokes, and lots of people acting bitchy is what the paying audience primarily gets out of Super Model. And the best scenes in Super Model? They already happened in Zoolander.
     With all the above gripes, it's a wonder that I'm going to say this: Super Model doesn't totally suck. It's not a good movie, but it's also not the worst thing you'll see out of Hong Kong nowadays. The big factor: relative expectations. Whereas Wong Jing's usual comedy messes (Honesty, The Spy Dad), have been seen ten trillion times before, Super Model has a couple of novelties going for it. For one thing, it's only Ronald Cheng's second leading role, and he's a game comic performer, if not a very skilled one. Cheng isn't as strong a comic actor as Stephen Chow, as he doesn't possess the ability to simply own the screen when he's on it. Still, he's a likable guy who clearly can make fun of himself, and at the very least he's not balls-to-the-wall annoying like previous Stephen Chow "replacement" Eric Kot. Super Model also features Karena Lam's first comic performance, which is noticeably raw (never has a lovelier actress made more obviously exaggerated funny faces), but a nice change from her usual intense or tortured characters. And even if the concept is stolen, it's still a pretty funny one.
     Overall, Super Model is just partially amusing stuff that's totally uncreative and absolutely without consequence. The fact that I don't totally slam it is probably due to one or two amusing jokes (a montage of Hong Kong celebrities extolling Mandom as their idol is pretty funny), and the relatively fresh performers, who haven't worn out their onscreen welcome...yet. Ronald Cheng will hopefully find new characters and new comic opportunities, and Karena Lam will hopefully appear in another film where she gets to act goofy and flash her girlish smile. My lack of hatred towards Super Model may also have something to do with the fact that I just saw Driving Miss Wealthy, which mirrors Super Model in that both are wholly average without being hellaciously terrible. This most recent spate of Hong Kong comedies is pretty much run-of-the-mill stuff, which means that undemanding audiences (of which there are many) will probably be tickled pink at the silly lameness on display here. Those people are welcome to their 100 minutes of brain-dead time, and for a change, I'll try not to rain on their parade. However, if Super Model II ever happens, I'm going postal. (Kozo 2004)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Featurette, trailers, interviews
 
 image courtesy of Mei Ah Entertainment
   
   
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