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Love Me, Love My Money

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Shu Qi in Love Me, Love My Money.
Chinese: 有情飲水飽  
Year: 2001  
Director: Wong Jing  
Producer: Wong Jing  
Writer: Wong Jing  
Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Shu Qi, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung, Teresa Mak Ka-Kei, Wong Yat-Fei, Joe Lee Yiu-Ming, Angie Cheung Wai-Yi (cameo)
The Skinny: Wong Jing attempts to capitalize on the lucrative urban romantic comedy genre. However, despite fine actors (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Shu Qi), the film brings nothing new or noteworthy to the table. Even worse, the movie is criminally uninteresting.
by Kozo:

In a bizarre turn of events, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai has become Hong Kong's answer to Hugh Grant. After winning his Best Actor award at Cannes, Leung's next two projects were, surprisingly enough, romantic comedies. Fighting for Love was a decent choice for such a departure, but Love Me, Love My Money is questionable. His new leading lady, Shu Qi, is a fine replacement for box office queen Sammi Cheng, but the director is now Wong Jing instead of Joe Ma. Here's hoping the check was substantial.

Leung is Richard Ma, a filthy rich businessman who buys and sells companies for a living. Richard's Chinese name is Sui Yan, which is wordplay for "bastard". Richard lives up to that name as he's a cheap, petty man who fires most of his staff because he wants to save money. He's due for a rude awakening, and it comes when he's forced to play poor guy for a weekend. His house gets looted by a mean ex-girlfriend, his credit cards are frozen, and he's left with no cash. Thankfully, he can attach himself to Ah Choi (Shu Qi), a strugging financial analyst who needs a pretend boyfriend to ward off the advances of a childhood friend who's stalking her. She brings Richard home to meet her dad (Wong Yat-Fei) as part of the ruse, but thanks to the usual romantic comedy circumstances the pretend romance develops into something real.

Richard pretends to be poor to fool Ah Choi, as he gets off on the idea that a woman would like him for himself and not for money. Ah Choi fits the bill, as she's one of those amazing movie-only girls who's honest and true, and not materialistic or shallow in any way. Shu Qi does a decent job of making Ah Choi likable though this part is way beneath her acting talents. Tony Leung plays a good jerk, and Gordon Lam and Teresa Mak (as the respective best pals) turn in decent support.

However, saying that the acting is decent is a relative measure, because the lines the actors deliver and the plot they inhabit is routine, uninteresting and poorly developed. Basically, we're treated to the hackneyed tale of a rich swine who pretends to be poor, only to find true love with an amazingly good girl. That experience changes him from rich swine to rich gentleman, but his duplicity offends the good girl, and he must win her back after much worrying. Ho hum.

Nothing about the film's plot is remotely compelling; it's possible that the script was written over a newspaper and a doughnut. If Wong Jing were any lazier with his screenwriting, Love Me, Love My Money would be only fifteen minutes long. The actual film clocks in at ninety minutes, so we get lots of filler like card games (they play Big Two), impromptu singing (Wong Yat-Fei apes his own Shaolin Soccer act), and scads of unimportant dialogue which serves no real purpose. It's just tired banter which is meant to be funny and/or interesting, but really isn't. As such, the movie just sort of plods along until it finally reaches the expected conclusion, which is neither surprising or compelling.

The production's laziness even seems to extend to the lead performances, as Tony Leung and Shu Qi barely muster any semblance of chemistry or interest in the proceedings. The natural charisma of the stars makes them occasionally worth watching, but without anything else to work with they only succeed at taking up space. What's truly sad about all this is Tony Leung and Shu Qi are both fine actors, and even Wong Jing has been inspired from time to time. You'd think that the quality of his actors would help his material, but here it absolutely does not. Ultimately we're left with a movie that's not completely awful, but is so uninteresting that it becomes an immediate afterthought. Love Me, Love My Money likely won't make any "10 Worst" lists, but that's probably because nearly everyone will forgot they even saw it. (Kozo 2002)

Notes: • Warning! The Chinastar DVD possesses English subtitles that occasionally omit the beginnings of some sentences. This means that a full sentence will only have its latter half translated, which can prove frustrating to those out there who are Cantonese-impaired. The likely response could be blindness-inducing rage.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Chinastar Entertainment Group

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