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Flirting in the Air
Flirting in the Air

Chapman To and Dada Chen time travel in Flirting in the Air.
Chinese: 唐伯虎衝上雲霄
Year: 2014
Director: Aman Cheung Man
Producer: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Action: Philip Ng Won-Lung
Cast: Chapman To Man-Chat, Dada Chen, Lam Chi-Chung, Dominic Ho Hou-Man, Connie Man Hoi-Ling, Jim Chim Sui-Man, Charlie Cho Cha-Lei, June Lam, Law Lan, Bella Law Chi-Kiu, Hazel Tong Chi-Yui, Cheung Ka-Lun, Tony Ho Wah-Chiu, Jerry Koo Ming-Wah, Monna Lam
  The Skinny: Politically-incorrect and proud of it, Wong Jing and Aman Cheung’s Flirting in the Air earns its wings thanks to scads of ribald humor and a complete lack of decency. Noteworthy because they seldom make movies like this anymore.
by Kozo:

Writer-producer Wong Jing and director Aman Cheung parody TVB’s successful Triumph in the Skies dramas with their latest wackfest Flirting in the Air. At least, they initially do. Triumph in the Skies II received increased popularity thanks to the appeal of Julian Cheung as Jayden “Captain Cool” Koo, a sunglasses-wearing pilot who charmed women while managing a large aircraft, and he’s obviously the inspiration for Flirting’s lead character Captain Cool. However, instead of a debonair chap like Julian Cheung, we get recently-slimmed jokester Chapman To. We also get glimpses of To’s overexposed bare ass, a time-travel storyline that sends Cool back to the Ming Dynasty era, and an appearance by notorious Category III icon Charlie Cho. Wong Jing may have started this film as a Triumph in the Skies parody but that only accounts for maybe five minutes of this ninety-plus minute film.

The rest of the film? One long Stephen Chow homage, from a storyline that crosses over with his 1993 classic Flirting Scholar to constant meta-references to his films from Flirting in the Air’s characters, who have seen Flirting Scholar a zillion times just like every other Hong Kong person. After a brief intro detailing his fondness for high school sweetheart/conquest Shelly (Dada Chen), Captain Cool (Chapman To) and fellow pilots/lotharios/pick-up artists Sam (Lam Tze-Chung) and Guy (Dominic Ho) get zapped back to the Ming Dynasty thanks to a Convenient Plot Device™. There, they meet noted scholar Tong Pak-Fu (Ben Cheung, playing Stephen Chow’s character from Flirting Scholar). Cool assumes Tong’s identity and conspires with his buddies to infiltrate the estate of Lord Hua (Charlie Cho), because that’s where they expect handmaiden Chou Heung will be – and they’d love to meet her because she was played by Gong Li in Flirting Scholar.

Unsurprisingly, the “real” Chou Heung (played by former Miss Hong Kong contestant Connie Lam) is not a Gong Li lookalike, but Cool zeroes in on her anyway, while Sam and Guy identify their own targets among her fellow handmaidens. Cool also meets Sheila (Dada Chen), the eye patch-wearing captain of the guard, beginning a second flirtation characterized by random violence, including Sheila’s guards violating Cool anally with their weapons. Yep, you heard that correctly, and that’s not the end of Flirting in the Air’s distasteful content. Flirting is rated Cat IIB, but a case could be made for a Cat III what with the explicit sexual innuendo, homophobia, aphrodisiacs, sex toys, rape jokes, rape jokes and rape jokes on offer. And did you hear about the rape jokes? If nothing else, Flirting in the Air loves challenging the boundaries of good taste.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that – well, actually there is, but let’s look at this in context. Flirting in the Air is an off-color, politically-incorrect, rampantly sexist and completely tasteless comedy that frequently means to offend, and, in that, it’s pretty much a success for its target audience. Grandma, the kids, the moral majority and sex-negative liberals need not apply, but this film proudly brings back the Hong Kong B-grade sex-and-silliness comedy in somewhat sanitized but overall entertaining form. The nudity is minor but the sexual innuendo is dialed up to eleven or twelve, and the supporting performance from Charlie Cho is meta in multiple ways. Aside from breaking the fourth wall to acknowledge Cho’s presence, the film gives Lord Hua the same first name as Hong Kong’s current embattled Chief Executive. The filmmakers mine gags from any subject they can, to consistently funny effect.

While not a quality film – because, come on, there’s no way this crass cinema quickie could be called quality – Flirting in the Air scores well with its surprising willingness to offend. Wong Jing’s slapdash scripting manages a decent hit-to-miss ratio with the laughs, and Aman Cheung, who’s long been a better director than Wong Jing, stages his visual gags well. The Stephen Chow/Flirting Scholar connection is fun too because really, who hasn’t seen Flirting Scholar? Where the film falters is with the perfunctory emotional stuff that somehow is meant to tie Cool and Sheila together as more than just fighting/flirting partners. Faux feels are par for the course, though, and at the very least both Chapman To and Dada Chen are game for the off-color shenanigans. Overall, there’s nothing that special here but in today’s overly-sanitized, increasingly colorless Hong Kong Cinema, Flirting in the Air can actually be called noteworthy. Context is everything. (Kozo, 10/2014)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Deltamac (HK)
Region 3 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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