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Short of Love

Short of Love

Angelababy and Wong Cho-Lam share some ice cream in Short of Love.

Chinese: 矮仔多情  
Year: 2009  
Director: James Yuen Sai-Sang
Producer: Ng Kin-Hung
Writer: James Yuen Sai-Sang
Cast: Wong Cho-Lam, Angelababy, Kate Tsui Tsz-Shan, JJ Jia, Race Wong Yuen-Ling, Chrissie Chau Sau-Na, Ella Koon Yun-Na, Siu Yeah-Jim, Donald Tong Kim-Hong, Louis Cheung Kai-Chung, Mui Siu-Wai, Louis Yuen Siu-Cheung, Eddie Ng, Lynn Xiong
The Skinny: A commercial comedy starring hot - and rather short - entertainment personality Wong Cho-Lam, Short of Love is as harmlessly amusing as it is completely disposable. James Yuen's extended Moment of Romance parody is fun, though. Not bad for what it is.
by Kozo:

You knew that it had to happen: a full-length feature film headlined by ubiquitous and diminuitive Hong Kong entertainment personality Wong Cho-Lam. A veteran of television, commercials, print ads and even pop music - Wong's debut album was produced by none other than Twins-pushers Emperor Music Group - Wong Cho-Lam is likely unknown to western Hong Kong Cinema fans, as his films have mostly been local comedies. Writer-director James Yuen's Short of Love doesn't break that trend - the film is in some ways a throwback to star-driven romantic comedies from the late eighties and early nineties, offering a tried-and-true commercial storyline about a super-rich playboy wooing a number of impossibly gorgeous starlets. Strangely enough, the relatively unattractive Wong Cho-Lam plays the super-rich playboy.

Suspension of disbelief aside, Short of Love is an acceptable commercial comedy with a local focus and some newer Hong Kong Cinema faces. Wong Cho-Lam is actually very talented if sometimes annoying, and the film proves to be a decently entertaining vehicle for his particular baby-faced charm. Wong stars as Jack Lam, a self-employed stock trader who keeps his fortune amidst the 2008 financial tsunami, but loses his gold-digging girlfriend Chu-Chu (bikini model Chrissie Chau) thanks to his infidelity and some sitcom-style mistaken shenanigans. Now without a main squeeze, Jack meets the helpful and super-cute Angel (model Angelababy), who advises him that he should learn to help others instead of just helping himself. The idea is that a revamped, selfless outlook on life will lead Jack to newfound success with love.

Presumably, Jack agrees to become a good guy, whereupon his life does a 180 and he's showered with opportunities for love. Right? Well, partially. Jack does get plenty of chances with the ladies, but everything seems to happen arbitrarily and not necessarily because he turns over a new leaf. First, Jack meets good girl dance instructor Christy (Race Wong), who mistakes him for a psychotherapist. Christy's willing to shack up with Jack if he can do something about her skanky twin sister Christine (also Race Wong). The result: shtick, and plenty of it, highlighted by a trademark scary girl performance from Race Wong, who also performs an exotic dance that's surprisingly daring – that is, by puritanical Hong Kong idol standards. Annoying comedy music duo I Love U Boyz also appears during this portion of the film, so the whole thing is a bit of a wash.

For his second potential love, Jack meets alluring but virginal masseuse Caca (model J.J. Jia), who literally bumps into Jack in a subway. Immediately smitten (or horny), Jack pretends to be blind and uses his fake condition to befriend her, and they become such close friends that she willingly disrobes in front of her new pal thinking that he can't see her naked body. The deception leads to the expected conflict, i.e. Jack can either keep lying to get Caca into the sack, or he can come clean and reveal his duplicity, thereby causing her to hate him forever. Finally, Jack meets his third potential love, Scar Sandy (Kate Tsui). A loud triad chick who runs a local cafe, Sandy is known for helping her neighbors in a forcefully righteous manner, and yet she quietly hides her own tortured past. Intrigued, Jack takes on a job at her café, where the two grow closer and the mystery of Sandy's scarred visage is ultimately revealed. Also, Jack learns a personal lesson. Maybe.

Short of Love is low on the originality meter, and meanders between random HK-style shenanigans and bouts of overacting from its cast. The effect is frantic but never exhausting; James Yuen is not Wong Jing, and manages to sell his comedy wares without crassly assaulting his audience. There's a good and a bad to that. The good: the laughs are more genial and relaxed, with some decent emotions shining through. The bad: the film's wandering storyline becomes more obvious, revealing itself to be even more senseless than it initially seems. Some topical laughs - including references to popular TVB shows, new parents Richard Li and Isabella Leong, and global pariah Lehman Brothers - do provide some unexpected diversion. Ultimately, the film leans on minor romantic realizations similar to those found in UFO Productions from the early nineties - many of which were also written by James Yuen. Back then the ideas were fresher, but now they're just trite in their overused wisdom.

At least Yuen steals from himself. Besides the standard existential romantic musings, the film delivers the longest Moment of Romance parody ever. Yuen co-wrote that classic Andy Lau-starrer, and uses its now famous imagery for an entertaining bit of Hong Kong Cinema fun that comes complete with not one, but two actors aping Andy Lau's trademark strutting and posing. Obviously Wong Cho-Lam is one of them, and he makes the most of the screentime, overacting relentlessly but also appreciably. Wong is a noted funnyman, but despite possessing the stature and physical features of a Hobbit, he convinces that he's got range too. The actresses range from fair to effective, with Kate Tsui earning noticeable sympathy despite overdoing the loud triad girl bit. Angelababy gets extra credit for her saucer-eyed sweetness, and Ella Koon and Mui Siu-Wai turn in effective support in smaller comic turns. Short of Love doesn't reinvent the wheel, but given its purpose - as a quick-shot vehicle for a hot local star - it does the job more than adequately. (Kozo 2009)

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

*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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image credit: BIG Pictures Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen