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New Perfect Two

New Perfect Two

Vic Chou and Xiao Xiaobin are supposedly the New Perfect Two.

Chinese: 新天生一對
Year: 2012  
Director: Kevin Chu
Cast: Vic Chou, Ella, Mini Yang, Xiao Xiaobin, Zeru Tao, Ding Shasha, Chen Chusheng, Vivian Hsu, Chu Ko-Liang
The Skinny: Commercial pablum that's only for fans of the stars, provided that said fans don't care about originality, surprise or quality in their movies. At least the film looks good.
by Kozo:
Kevin Chu Yen-Ping continues his nearly unparalleled streak of unimpressive filmmaking with nice-looking but blazingly average Taiwan drama New Perfect Two. JVKV (F4) member Vic Chou stars as Chen Hanbin a.k.a. Ah Bee, a former superstar motorcycle racer who gave up on the sport after a bad fall on the track left him physically and emotionally scarred. Now Ah Bee is a self-loathing, boozing, gambling layabout with a faithful Girl Friday named Maniu (Ella of S.H.E.), a spunky tomboy who cooks his meals, launders his clothes and constantly reminds him of what a loser he is. Of course, she needles him in an adorably sassy way, making her one of those awesome in-the-movies-only girls who'll love a man faithfully even if he's a boozing, gambling layabout. Official Library of Movie Clichés™, you are served.

Vic Chou’s character is also a cliché. Even though Ah Bee boozes and gambles, he's really got a heart of gold, which he uses to pine ardently for missing wife Jiawei (Mini Yang). She left some years back and he often weeps miserably because he can't rest his head in her bosoms nightly. Ah Bee, males everywhere feel your pain. Thankfully, Jiawei returns. Not so thankfully, she's dragging along Binbin (Xiao Xiaobin), Ah Bee’s precocious son whom he never knew existed. She wants to leave Binbin with Ah Bee for a while, and Ah Bee doesn't disagree, leading to the obvious character arc where Ah Bee exchanges his layabout life for one of responsibility and self-respect. How does he accomplish this? Duh, he gets back on the racetrack to "take back what he lost," plus he ends up choosing between the two women in his life. Who will it be? Super-hot Jiawei or down-to-earth Maniu?

If you can't predict what happens in New Perfect Two, you either have no conception of conventional narrative or you've not seen a single film ever. This movie is chock-full of standard dramatic clichés now more common in TV idol dramas than on the big screen. Let's see, there’s a long-lost son, a bitter former racer, a super-loyal Girl Friday, annoying loan sharks, picturesque and totally fantastic beach-front locations, manufactured cutseyness and no real semblance of character or plot development. Ah Bee may act like a wounded bad boy, but his transformation from selfish jerk to caring dad only seems to register thanks to narrative callbacks signifying his change. Otherwise, Ah Bee is pretty much the same guy all the way through the film, i.e., a roguish dreamboat whose immaturity is more charming than anything else. Only once does Ah Bee do something that's potentially despicable, but it's neatly swept under the rug and soon forgotten.

The most notable aspects about New Perfect Two probably matter only to Taiwan entertainment circle fans. This is the first film appearance of super-popular Ella, and she's playing yet another variation on her cute, tomboyish TV drama personality. Former Kevin Chu actress Vivian Hsu has a pointless cameo, but at least she appears. For the first time, Vic Chou plays a father, a big deal for ardent Chou fans that like to discuss their fave idol's "acting development" on Internet forums. Xiao Xiaobin is a popular and sometimes grating child actor who's worked with nearly all of F4 on other projects. Also, Ding Shasha, who plays Ella's insufferable younger sister, is a fixture of Taiwan variety shows, and is even known as "Uncontrollable Girl" for her wacky and patience-defying antics. Only Mini Yang really falls outside the Taiwan entertainment sphere, though her hit China drama Palace did play there, plus she handily fits the China co-production requirements. Movies: they're about synergy and safety.

New Perfect Two has the opportunity to finish strong, but shies away from the type of over-the-top melodramatic ending that one might expect from the racing subplot – especially if the person is a Hong Kong Cinema fan who’s seen Johnnie To’s very similar 1989 meller All About Ah Long. Sometimes New Perfect Two looks like it’ll head the same direction as Ah Long’s punishing but felt close, but instead it delivers a maudlin and resolutely boring ending that only serves fans that want their movies safe, shiny and happy. This is pablum for a certain audience, though we should give Kevin Chu credit for only targeting that audience. Chu never pretends that his film is something that it isn't, which is a move that’s both realistic and wise. Kevin Chu may be calling plays from a tired, overused playbook, but at least he sticks with it and doesn't showboat. Ultimately, New Perfect Two aims so low that it's hard to fault it for not achieving more. And if you must fault it then don't see it. (Kozo, 2012)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Intercontinental Video (HK)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Mandarin Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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