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The Lion Roars 2

The Lion Roars 2

Xiao Shenyang and Cecilia Cheung in The Lion Roars 2.

Chinese: 河東獅吼2  
Year: 2012
Director: Joe Ma Wai-Ho  
Writer: Joe Ma Wai-Ho, Cao Sheng
Cast: Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi, Xiao Shenyang, Victor Huang Weide, Zhang Xinyu, , Shen Fangxi, Zhao Benshan, He Jiong, Hui Siu-Hung, Wu Jianfei, Qi Ji, Liu Hui, Zhou Lei, Ding Zishou, Li Jiajun, Gao Jie, Liu Yuqi, Peng Bo
The Skinny:

The Lion Roars 2 is less a Cecilia Cheung movie and more a Xiao Shenyang movie, but considering this sequel's slow pace and flat gags, that hardly matters. You didn't ask for The Lion Roars 2 but here it is anyway.

by Kozo:

If “Sequel You Didn’t Ask For” was an official film designation then it would absolutely be applied to The Lion Roars 2. Hong Kong and indeed history have not sung the virtues of the 2002 original, an amusing yet tiresome Soong Dynasty comedy that starred Cecilia Cheung as a domineering wife, but here we are ten years later with an in-name-only follow-up. The key: China, which supported the film far more than Hong Kong did during its initial box office run, though one wonders if it was enough to justify this sequel. Director Joe Ma returns to write and direct Lion Roars 2 while Cheung plays a different domineering wife than in the previous film. Replacing Louis Koo in the male lead: mainland comedian Xiao Shenyang. Contain that excitement.

Like the original Lion Roars, this sequel concerns an independent women who likes to beat up men. Moth Liu (Cheung) uses her martial arts skills to enforce her decree that men not take concubines, and even prevents her widowed father (comedian Zhao Benshan, also Xiao Shenyang’s mentor) from remarrying. With the male villagers fed up with Moth Liu’s bullying, they enlist scholar Dongfang Mingliang (Xiao Shenyang) to debate Moth Liu, in hopes that she’ll be put in her place and men everywhere will be free from her tyranny. Mingliang and Moth Liu are evenly matched so a deal is struck: for one year, they’ll cohabitate and if Mingliang can prove that he’s not a lustful douchebag, she’ll admit defeat, give up her crusade and officially marry him. If she wins, Mingliang has to change his name to “pervert” and be publicly shamed.

After fifteen minutes, the stage is set for a battle of the sexes comedy, with Moth Liu and her two servants cohabiting with Mingliang and his two servants – oh, think of the opportunities for room-swapping hijinks and mild sexual misadventures! Haha, this is a China film so good luck on that. Instead of building on that situation comedy foundation, the film quickly introduces a Three Kingdoms parody, with Hui Siu-Hung playing a Liu Bei-alike, while Mingliang serves as the Zhuge Liang stand-in. After some haggling, Mingliang joins the Liu side versus the dastardly Sima Kong (Victor Huang), meaning months at war away from his now-affectionate wife Moth Liu (the couple quickly comes to an accord). But on the frontlines, Mingliang has pretty female warrior Liu Xiang (Zhang Xinyu) after him. Will Mingliang lose his wager with Moth Liu while doing the Red Cliff thing?

The Hong Kong poster for Lion Roars 2 boasts Cecilia Cheung front and center, but that’s misdirection. The true star of the film is Xiao Shenyang because he’s much more popular in China and he also hasn’t starred in a string of flops like Ms. Cheung. Unfortunately, the results are uninspiring. Xiao plays Mingliang as sardonic and unflappable, like a composed version of Stephen Chow without the arrogance and self-effacing physical gags. Maybe he’s funnier in Mandarin , but in the Cantonese dub of the film (on which this review is based) Xiao comes off merely as dry and a bit boring. Helped by the decently developed story, Cheung fares OK. The film offers a few effective twists, with breaks for action and two-faced strategy, and there are solid emotions at its core. The elements are here for a decent movie. All one requires is OK-to-better execution to put it all together

Well, no go there. Joe Ma was once a solid director but he’s seemingly lost his way since his Love Undercover halcyon days. The story is presented too languidly, with pace seemingly at a slow crawl. There’s too much talk and little physical comedy, and the action is lousy, with obvious doubling and unconvincing cutaways. Scale is small, which is fine for a costume sitcom, but there’s not enough sitcom actually happening to offset the cheapness. Worse, the film basically gives away every last bit of information such that there are zero surprises about what’s happening. Characters have misunderstandings leading to teary climaxes, but what’s the point when the confessions involve stuff that the audience already knows and has been reminded about in flashback? More inspired, or any discernible storytelling would be nice. Lion Roars 2 isn’t the worst film of the year but it’s so unremarkably mediocre that it might actually be preferable if it were worse.

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

*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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Image credit: Distribution Workshop Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen