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If you’ve seen enough Hong Kong movies you may start to notice that a lot of the same people keep showing up in the same movies. It’s because the present Hong Kong film industry has a system in place that mirrors the Studio System of Hollywood’s “Golden Age”. Many actors are contracted to work for a specific company, and that’s why you’ll usually see Ruby Wong in the same movie as Suet Lam and Shiu Hung Hui. The company they all work for is Milky Way, which is also the producer of “Looking for Mr. Perfect”.
In “Perfect”, Qi Shu (“So Close”) stars as Grace, a Hong Kong cop unlucky on the job as well as in her love life. Pining for the mysterious man of her dreams, Grace takes a vacation to Malaysia with best friend Joey (Isabel Chan), a model doing a fashion shoot at said vacation spot. As it’s required to happen in silly slapstick comedy built around mistaken identity, Grace meets mysterious man Andy On, who happens to be tracking down a stolen super duper doohickey. The undercover On believes Grace and Joey may be involved since Joey’s boss is also the middleman for the sell of said doohickey. In an attempt to worm information from Grace, On romances Grace — and hilarity ensues.
“Hilarity ensues” is the perfect clich’d line for “Perfect”, a film directed by Ringo Lam, a man known more for gritty crime dramas like “Full Contact” and “Prison on Fire” than silly lowbrow comedies. Then again, Lam isn’t required to do much here, and the finished product is certainly not “Lam”-ish, if you will. Like the screenplay by Mike Cassey, “Perfect” is perfectly happy to be as over-the-top as possible from beginning to end. Even when a man plunges to his death via a long fall, the movie is able to use it as comedy fodder. Talk about not taking anything serious.
As the movie’s straight man, Andy On (“Black Mask 2″) fairs the worst of the bunch. He’s given little to do except look serious and, well, handsome. Qi Shu comes dangerously close to being just as irrelevant as leading man On, but she’s saved by her naturally likeable personality. (Also, Qi Shu is a pretty darn good jet skier!) Not surprisingly, the movie is a blast whenever Simon Yam is onscreen, which is shamefully infrequent (not counting a ridiculously long ending, that is). As a black market arms dealer, Simon Yam (“PTU”) is colorful and absurd, and he is, hands down, the best thing about “Perfect”. Needless to say, I wish the movie paid more attention to him instead of following every second of Grace and Joey’s search for love.
A movie like “Perfect” relies on its comedy to save the day because there’s nothing else to hang one’s hat on. This film is full-blown silliness, although it never quite approaches the offensive stupidity of Jing Wong’s Absurdist Hong Kong Cinema. This salvation is mostly due to the screenplay by Mike Cassey, who fills the film with enough verbal jokes and physical gags to keep the movie humorous. Of particular note are characters Ken and Vincent, Grace’s Hong Kong suitors who follow her to Malaysia. The two men’s constant bickering, challenges, and put-downs are a riot to behold.
Also making things interesting are professional screen victims Suet Lam (“Fulltime Killer”) and Shiu Hung Hui (“Running out of Time”). It’s been proven countless times that you can’t go wrong with Suet Lam, who plays a pervert with the mannerisms of a gay man (?). As for Hui, his character insists on junior partner Alex (On) calling him “No. 1″. Alex complains that he doesn’t like being called “No. 2″ (because of obvious implications, ahem), but Hui seems incapable of grasping his young partner’s objection. “Perfect” is filled with verbal gags like that.
“Looking for Mr. Perfect” is a funny and harmless movie, with good performances by nearly everyone involved. Even Ruby Wong, usually victimized in Milky Way productions as an irrelevant background character, gets to sink her teeth into a juicy role as the high-kicking girlfriend of the flamboyant Yam (who thinks he’s the Lord of the Dance, incidentally). The movie’s best sequence involves Wong and Yam as they make their getaway in a car, with Alex in hot pursuit on a motorbike. The chase lasts for what seems like forever, with Alex doing one incredible bike stunt after another. In the film’s best moment, Wong and Yam gives each other an incredulous look as Alex performs yet another stunt, as if to say, “Can you believe this guy?” Hilarious.
Fans of Hong Kong movies know that “the Hong Kong way of filmmaking” doesn’t require filmmakers to close down locations in order to shoot. Directors think nothing of throwing their actors into the middle of a busy Downtown street with cameras rolling. While Lam and company may have gotten permission to shoot in the movie’s central location — the hotel and surrounding areas — they apparently haven’t bothered to seal off locations. As a result, you can usually spot a dozen or so looky-loos watching the production in the background, oblivious to the fact that they’re ruining the movie’s scene with their slack-jawed gawking.
Ringo Lam (director) / Mike Cassey (screenplay)
CAST: Qi Shu …. Grace
Simon Yam …. Poon
Andy On …. Aman/Alex
Isabel Chan …. Joey
David Wu …. Richard
Suet Lam …. Bobby