Men Suddenly in Love
Written and directed by Wong Jing
Ever get tired of the non-stop sugar sweetness of the Hong Kong New Years comedies where everyone gets married and lives happily ever after? Well, don’t worry, because Wong Jing is here to throw a dose of jaded bitterness all over the institution of marriage with Men Suddenly in Love! Cheating, seduction, treachery, plotting, conspiracies, the game of thrones that is marriage in Wong Jing land is all laid bare before you. And despite the bad message, the film has some entertaining parts, but not enough to keep me happy.
The title references the similarly toned Men Suddenly In Black (2003), though where In Black shines in it’s unique portrait of marriage, In Love seems like a hollow copy, half-hearted in its conspiracies, too focused on setting up random scenarios than coalescing everything into a major narrative. Though probably done to get around the filming schedules of the stars, there are few scenes where everyone is together. It’s more like a series of stories that randomly intersect.
If you love films where hot lang mo models want to get with old old dudes, then you will love Men Suddenly In Love. If you aren’t an old dude, then you probably are rolling your eyes (if you are an old dude, you are probably combing your hair, anticipating hot models to come wandering in your room any moment!) The irony of these new models is some of the wives they are replacing were once considered the hotties of the Hong Kong cinema world, though said hotties were less likely to be strutting around in a bikini or bras for their films.
The main characters are a group of guys who over the years were students of a teacher named Master Jude, who reunite to celebrate the 80th birthday of Master Jude. Each guy has gone on to a life of success thanks to the teachings of Master Jude, and though they are married, the marriages have their own flaws and levels of dissatisfaction. These different men of different ages and different class years at school are also portrayed as deep friends solely due to their bond with Master Jude, though it is not explained why they hang out together despite the large age differences..
The get together meetup stumbles across a photoshoot of five hot models, and our heroes trip over their own tongues in a rush to go talk to them girls. The models are not instantly disgusted by old old men perving over them, instead spending their time flirting with them. A special birthday surprise for Master Jude goes awry when he can’t handle the excitement and ends up dead! Death by looking at hot chicks. Master Jude’s last request is for the guys to bang one of the hot chicks and yell out his name while doing so.
Despite the fact Master Jude is dead and thus won’t know any better, the guys begin to go along with this plan. Next up we rotate through the various guys and their encounters with the other women while avoiding their wives suspicions. Some men are more successful than others, in both the seduction and the covering up facets. One of the guys is even dateraped, as he’s given a drug that turns him into a raving pervomaniac. Some of the men try to resist, though the women come at them with unbelievable directness. Defenses fall, and to the last man they cheat.
Things spiral further out of control as the wives aren’t as dumb as they’re pretending to be, and the hammer comes down. It’s blackmail time, and the guys are doomed and lose all their cash. The men are later chastised by the ghost of Master Jude for letting their wives take over.
But how much of a conspiracy was this? The women are shown later paying off the models, were they hired, or is this to get rid of them? In any event, the plan fails, and the models immediately go back to the old men with the stacks of cash for party time! The wives’ celebration of the rejuvenation of their marriages in addition to their gain of power all turns out to be for naught.
Wong Jing’s attempt seemed like a good idea at the time, but in practice it results in a muddled mess that has a few entertaining moments, but not enough to recommend. The various wacky movie related parts were sometimes worth a laugh, as was Jeanne’s “possession” as she seduces Keith. Some of the characters seemed like they would have benefited from a smaller cast to increase the size of their roles and flesh out some jokes more strongly. But the Hong Kong tradition of cramming as many characters in the film as possible worked against that possibility. There could have been a neat sendup of the 3D Sex and Zen film, as the men initially rent a bootleg copy to watch while on their birthday retreat, but it never gets far beyond a blurry scene from the “movie” and reaction shots. One day there will be a parody of 3D Sex and Zen, it’s far too popular for that not not happen. I did like the opening credits sequence with the neon signs used for credits, though it is a shame they didn’t extend it to the actual title card of the film, instead giving it a dull generic Hong Kong title card.
But the small good sections are not enough to save Men Suddenly In Love, and I cannot recommend it, especially when there are so many other Hong Kong comedies that do mediocre so much better.
Rated 3/10 (good credits, bad wrinkles, Southpark Wong Jing?)