Hong Kong director Ringo Lam is perhaps best known for his gritty action thrillers such as City on Fire (1987) and Full Contact (1992). However, he somewhat proves that he can try his hand at making a “romantic action-comedy” and with the right people, make a film that is not the best, but still quite a fun film to watch.
Grace is a Hong Kong police officer who has the attention of two vying suitors, businessman Vincent and doctor Ken. Grace more or less despises both men yet she has constant dreams of a mysterious man saving her from assailants. When she is offered a chance to head to Malaysia with best friend Joey, Grace’s world is turned upside down on many occasions. She constantly runs into cop informer Crab. She sees her best friend constantly harrassed by perverted film maker and boss Bobby Chan. However, none of those compares when she finds her “dream man” in the mysterious Aman, who claims to be a computer programmer.
Aman is really Alex, a government agent sent to Malaysia with his boss to retrieve a missile tracking system that is to be delivered to the mysterious Poon and his girlfriend. When Alex’s boss mistakes Grace and Joey as the buyers, Alex is sent undercover to spy on the duo and in the process, begins to fall for Grace as Grace reciprocates her feelings for Aman. It is not long before Crab accidentally has his hands on a disk with information about the tracking system and all hell breaks loose with chaos coming from all corners.
Produced by veteran Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To, one would never expect this to be directed by someone like Lam, whose more known from his gritty themes in films. However, if Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike can work with genres, why not Lam? Lam also came up with the storyline with Mike Cassey writing the screenplay. Cassey’s screenplay offers a healthy does of comic relief with some surprisingly fun action. While there doesn’t seem to be any real dramatic elements, the romance between Shu Qi and Andy On is kind of a mixed bag of emotions. Sometimes the chemistry is there and at times, the chemistry is not there. However, there shouldn’t be any discredit as On was the newcomer at the time to Shu’s veteran status.
The influence of Johnnie To is clearly in the film as two of his usual castmates bring supporting roles using their trademark comic relief. Lam Suet plays the perverted boss of Grace’s friend. While he is constantly hitting on her, his iron-willed wife is always there to keep him in check but even this boss has somewhat of a dark secret. Meanwhile, Benz Hui Shiu-Hung would bring the comic relief that would make him known for his role in the Love Undercover trilogy as On’s hapless boss, who looks like he has no idea what he is doing. Chapman To seems to be quite an annoyance for the most part in his role of informer Crab, who is pretty much the reason why everyone else gets into trouble. A far cry from his really good performance in Infernal Affairs, To seems to be a flaw in the film overall.
Playing the villain of the piece is veteran Simon Yam. One can’t help but love seeing Yam tackle any type of role, perhaps one of all-time greatest being that of the lead villain Judge in Lam’s action opus Full Contact opposite Chow Yun-Fat. Playing the flamboyant Poon, it is like seeing Yam take the character of Judge and making him a flamenco dancing fighter alongside cohort Ruby Wong, who plays his girlfriend who also is a martial artist herself. Sometimes, when Wong and Yam team up, it brings out refreshing memories of when one would watch the classic kung fu movies and see two villains lock up to combine their techniques against the hero.
Speaking of action, the film offers some fun fight sequences courtesy of former Jackie Chan Stunt Team leader Nicky Li. Aside from Yam and Wong’s “tango kickboxing” style, those disappointed with Andy On’s action in Black Mask 2: City of Masks will breath a sigh of relief as he is able to hold the basics of film fighting on his own. While On and Yam were doubled by Jackie Chan Stunt Team members Wu Gang and Park Hyun-Jin (who doubled for On in New Police Story), On, Yam, and Ruby Wong did really well holding their own for their two very nicely shot fight scenes. Even the use of props such as the spiky fruit durian, a saw, and an umbrella made for good use on the action side. The reason these two fight scenes were done well was a combination of David Richardson’s editing with the cinematography of Ross W. Clarkson, the man behind the lens for Isaac Florentine’s Undisputed II & III and Ninja I & II.
The film was actually Andy On’s real film debut, shot in 2001, but producer Charles Heung thought Black Mask 2: City of Masks would be a better film debut for On. The film was ultimately released in 2003, but bombed at the box office due to its being released during the Hong Kong SARS epidemic. In the end, Looking for Mister Perfect is not the “perfect” action film. However, it is still a fun film to enjoy and shows truly the beginnings of future action star Andy On as well as good performances by Shu Qi, Lam Suet, Hui Shiu-Hung, and the alwats watchable Simon Yam.
WFG RATING: B-
China Star Entertainment presents a One Hundred Years of Film production. Director: Ringo Lam. Producer: Johnnie To. Writer: Mike Cassey. Cinematography: Ross W. Clarkson. Editing: David Richardson.
Cast: Shu Qi, Andy On, Lam Suet, Simon Yam, Ruby Wong, Benz Hui, Raymond Wong Ho-Yin, David Wu, Chapman To, Isabel Chan, Wayne Lai.