Beauty on Duty (Review)

Beauty on Duty

aka Mei lai muk ling

Directed and Written by Wong Jing

Wong Jing takes Miss Congeniality and 9000 characters and mixes them in a blender to pump out his latest wacky romcom (that’s cool people slang for “romantic-comedy”) that is so Wong Jing you’re gonna wong your jing. Or something like that. Like all Wong Jing romcoms, we got more potential couples and love octagons than you can shake a stick at. We have such familiar situations as the people who were lovers in school and then went their separate ways for 20 years, will they get together again now that they have reunited? Don’t forget the people who had crushes on other people and followed them around hiding behind trees. How will they find love? Let’s also give honor to the couple that is the main male character and the main female character. Because, they pretty much have to get together despite the super rich pop star wandering around in the middle of it all.

As there are so many characters and we’re trying to keep the length of this review to a passable level, the Roll Call will only list some of the cast, the rest will be brought up as the plot overview demands.

Chung Ai Fang (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – A rookie cop joining up to be with her father on the force suddenly becomes the undercover beauty pageant agent who must save the girl without blowing her cover. Tough to do when you get pinned as the top contestant by the media. Charlene Choi is half of the pop super-duo Twins and previously was on TarsTarkas.NET in Protégé de la Rose Noire.
Iron Mary (Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu) – the tough police woman who slaps around criminals like they were candy. Or something. Was the childhood sweetheart of Officer Lu Chi On who suddenly reenters her life during this assignment. See Sandra Ng in The Eight Hilarious Gods
Donnie Yuen (Fan Siu-Wong) – Awesome cop guy about to join the SWAT team but instead has to help with the undercover investigation. Of course Ricky from Story of Ricky is a supercop!
Indiana Chung (Hui Siu-Hung) – Legendary cop who wants daughter to marry a rich dude so he can retire. Hui Siu-Hung has been in a ton of films, including being somewhere in Protégé de la Rose Noire.
Brother Ting (Wong Jing) – The evil mobster is Wong Jing, also the writer and director! Wong Jing’s movies include such wonders as My Kung Fu Sweetheart and Future Cops
June (Maggie Li Man-Kwan) – The daughter of an accountant who is testifying against Brother Ting, but only if June is allowed to participate in the beauty pageant.

Police babe Fang is a rookie cop who joins up in the same precinct as her father, Indiana Chung). Dad instead wants her to marry a rich man and pay for his retirement, like every other stereotypical Chinese father in Chinese cinema.

Fang gets teamed up with police dream team handsome guy Donnie Yuen, who is totally not Donnie Yen. But he does fight like him and is leaving the next day to join the SWAT team. But on Fang’s first day her and Donnie save a guy named Fatty (oddly enough, played by fat guy Lam Suet) who is a former gangster accountant who is now on the run from the gangsters and makes a deal with the cops to testify against triad Brother Tin if they keep his daughter June safe. His daughter who is in a Miss Hong Kong type beauty pageant. The daughter must be allowed to compete because Fatty wants to make up for being a horrible father, so now it’s Miss Congeniality time for Fang!

To make it in the Hong Kong entertainment industry as a woman you pretty much have to go the pageant route. The list of top contestants and winners of the various pageants read like a Who’s Who list of Hong Kong starlets. Sure, many of the winners go on to do nothing but marry a rich husband and not work, but many others star in the kind of movies you watch, you being a person who reads this site. I know you. Maggie Cheung, Michele Reis, Joyce Godenzi, Charmaine Sheh, Myolie Wu, and Valerie Chow are all alumni of the Miss Hong Kong Pageant, which is owned and ran by TVB. Christy Chung came out of the Miss Chinese International Pageant (also a TVB production), Michelle Yeoh was a former Miss Malaysia. Mainland China also hosts plenty of pageants each year. Anyone who lives in a town with a large Chinese population will see posters often for the local versions of the various Miss Hong Kong or Miss Asian American Pageants. Pageants, pageants, everywhere. It’s like Drop Dead Gorgeous exploded all over China.

Fang’s forced to enter the competition by police chief Kingdom Yuen King-Tan (from such films as Future Cops, Haunted Office, and My Kung Fu Sweetheart) , and numerous police buddies are drafted to help her protect June. We got Iron Mary, the tough cop lady. We got Fang’s dad, Indiana Chung. We got SWAT guy Donnie dragged back in. We got Special Agent Lu Chi On (Lu Yi) helping as well – because we need another male cop for an extra love interest for Iron Mary. Most of the males will be playing gay in order to be disguised as makeup artists

Pageant host Stephen Shum (Jim Chim Sui-Man) is the only official who knows the score, and his main trouble is keeping details from the nosy Lu Wu E San (Xie Na, also in Tracing Shadow) – another pageant official who also used to date Lu Chi On. Lu Wu E San’s name means 6523 for those of you who love Chinese number jokes. She recently divorced the Lu so she’s back on the market.

Throw in a singer love interest for Fang (William Chan Wai-Ting as Jerry), his agent (Cheung Tat-Ming as Vincent) being a guy who used to crush on Iron Mary, some extra billionaires who scope around the pageants for girls (Sammy Leung Chi-Kin), an evil girl entered into the pageant (Samantha Ko Hoi-Ning as Phoenix) to track down and capture June so Fatty won’t testify, and a few other of Brother Tin’s men wandering around, and you pretty much need a flow chart to keep up. And I haven’t even mentioned the crocodile rape!

There is crocodile rape in this movie.

Being a Wong Jing pretty girls movie, the pageant girls are constantly in bathing suits, skimpy clothing, partying it up, and being catty girls to the most popular ones (which is usually Fang due to all those kooky coincidences that happen in romcoms) Featured pretty girls include Jeannette Leung Ching-Kok, Pu Hua-Ting, and Qi Li-Li, largely namedropped so we’ll get more visitors via Google Image Search…I mean, namedropped to congratulate them on a job well done!

At least Wong Jing’s edge on picking out hot chicks has stayed sharp with age. Now, all we need is to have him make another Naked Killer movie that doesn’t become Naked Weapon, and then I can complain about something else on the internet.

One ironic note is Fang’s rejection of Pop Idol Jerry because they cannot be seen together in public to protect his reputation as always being single and available. Fang feels that if you love someone you should be free to love them whenever. Charlene Choi, however, is all about marrying a guy in secret and not bothering to tell anyone until they’ve already divorced in secret and the press finally figured it out. I’m surprised she could get through her rejection speech with a straight face. Next year I hope to see fellow Twin Gillian Chung give an impassioned speech dumping a boyfriend who wants to take naked photos of her. As an aside on Jerry, when he is introduced the crowd is chanting “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!” so I expected trailer trash to start beating the snot over each other because everyone is cheating on everyone.

As this is a Wong Jing comedy, by the end of the film the baddies are thwarted and every cast member has paired up (except poor Indiana Chung who instead gets to retire, and June, who is too busy becoming famous to get married) and all is right with the world. Almost too right. One wonders if Wong Jing’s crazy romcoms take place in the same universe as his action flicks. Thus, while Fang and Donnie are falling in love and making babies, women are being kidnapped to be trained as killers and guys are getting their junk ripped off three buildings down. Next door, the casino is losing money fast to the Count of Gamblers, while in the basement the Triad gang plots their next territory take-over. As we all know, Hong Kong is filled with single billionaires who are all around 37 that stay single forever until multiple ones try to pick up the same 25 year old girl at the same time, but one day they’ll all focus on the girl who is a secret female assassin Triad gambler. And that will be the greatest movie ever made.

Rated 7/10 (Police boss, Young Iron Mary, Young Lu, old Lu, JERRY!, snotty manager, who’s this tough dude?)

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