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The Jade and the Pearl

Jade and the Pearl     Jade and the Pearl

(left) Raymond Lam and Charlene Choi, and (right) Wong Cho-Lam and Joey Yung.

Chinese: 翡翠明珠
Year: 2010
Director: Janet Chun Siu-Jan
Producer: Chan Hing-Kai
Action: Wong Wai-Leung
Cast: Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin,Raymond Lam Fung, Wong Cho-Lam, Joey Yung Tso-Yi, Ti Lung, Tien Niu, Chapman To Man-Chat, Alex Man Chi-Leung, Lam Suet, Wong Yau-Nam, Tats Lau Yi-Tat, Carlo Ng Ka-Lok, 6 Wing, Hui Siu-Hung, Kenny Kwan Chi-Bun, JJ Jia, Ken Hung Cheuk-Lap, Matthew Ko Kwan-Yin, Yuen Wai-Ho, Steven Cheung Chi-Hung, Macy Chan Mei-Si, Ma Choi, Tang Chi-Fung, Lam Chiu-Wing, Hiro Hayama, Cilla Kung, Mavis Pan Shuang-Shuang, Jess Sum, Sherry Chen, Christine Kuo
The Skinny: Thin all-star costume comedy with standard jokes and situations. The problem: the direction and pacing are absolutely the pits. Fans of the stars will get some mileage but for this genre, The Jade and The Pearl falls to the back of the pack.
by Kozo:
EEG and TVB team up to produce a feature length motion picture. What’s the worst that could happen? The answer: The Jade and the Pearl, a lazy all-star costume comedy that takes its title from TVB's twin television stations, naturally called "Jade" and "Pearl." Those names also refer to two tokens of affection exchanged by lovers in the film, but that reason is likely secondary to TVB's need for self-promotion. Most everything is.

Jade and the Pearl's genre and massive cast seem to indicate a Lunar New Year offering, but The Powers That Be apparently decided that mid-summer would also be a good time for a film with extended wackiness, unchecked acting and wall-to-wall cameo appearances. These types of movies are a staple of Hong Kong Cinema, so we probably should forgive the film because it belongs to a populist genre with a long, if not storied history.

But Jade and the Pearl is interminable and uninteresting - two things that a film of this type should definitely not be – so forgiveness does not come easy. The story concerns the star-crossed love between Princess Yan (Charlene Choi) and General Cheng (Raymond Lam). Thanks to manufactured circumstances, the two initially hate one another, but love blossoms when Cheng escorts Yan and her entourage to her wedding in the Kingdom of Far Far Away. She's not marrying Shrek; her intended is instead some unimportant prince (Hiro Hayama) who handpicked her for an arranged marriage, and she’s initially tickled to be chosen.

However, there appears to be no deadline to get Princess Yan to Far Far Away because she and her entourage waste as much time as they possibly can on the open road. Their awesome interludes include game show-type contests, plenty of stargazing, and also some crossdressing. Yeah, this is a creativity schmorgesborg. The actors all perform gamely, but the comedy is old and only enlivened when the right actor (e.g., Lam Suet) is the one doing the cutting up. Otherwise, this is standard stuff already seen in many other films, including this year's costume comedies of choice, Just Another Pandora's Box and All's Well Ends Well 2010.

Why do those films work and Jade and Pearl not? The answer can be summed up in one word: direction (though really, we could blame the writers and producers too). Director Janet Chun previously served as co-director on two previous features (her usual co-director, Chan Hing-Ka, is a writer/producer here), with this being her first solo effort. It’s also a poor calling card for future assignments. Jade and Pearl's story is clichéd but serviceable, but it's doomed by unimaginative, leaden direction that stretches the film out to an unreasonable and interminable 105 minutes.

The film possesses chances for energy, imagination or simply faster pacing, but Chun doesn't capitalize and instead relies on her actors to push each scene. That’s not wise, as the actors are inconsistent if not uncooperative. Raymond Lam and Wong Cho-Lam, who plays a potential romantic rival, both try valiantly but their efforts seem unsupported by the script or direction. Joey Yung furthers her rep as an unremarkable actress as a bandit with eyes for General Cheng. On the plus side, Charlene Choi shows range thanks to a mid-film twist that changes her character's personality. That twist? Well, revealing it would be a spoiler and you know, everyone hates spoilers in film reviews.

However, spoiler embargoes should be lifted when talking about Jade and the Pearl because everything here has been seen before in a funnier, more surprising or better-made film. True, wacky all-star affairs are expected to be illogical, poorly acted and generally uninspired, as it's hard to achieve great filmmaking when you grab thirty name actors and shove them into a rushed four-week shooting schedule. But overlong? Uninteresting? Boring? Those adjectives should not be invoked. That Jade and the Pearl can be called those things is pretty much unforgivable. The lousy costumes, action and art direction are just icing.

The caveat: popstar chasers may overlook everything as long as their fave faces get screen time. Basically, if you like Raymond Lam, Charlene Choi, Wong Cho-Lam or Joey Yung, the film features them in lingering medium shots that allow you to stare at them for untold minutes. Here's a hint: hit the freeze frame button and those minutes can extend to a virtual eternity! Also, Jade and the Pearl may please undiscerning viewers who watch the film while they're doing something else, like eating dinner or playing mahjong. That description fits an actual demographic, and this film was really made for them. But hey, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that movies should not be enjoyed that way. They deserve our full attention, and Jade and the Pearl does not. Ergo, it's not much of a movie. (Kozo 2010)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
CN Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese/Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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image credit: EEG and TVB Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen