All’s Well Ends Well 2011 (Review)

All’s Well Ends Well 2011

aka 最強囍事 aka Ji keung hei si 2011

Directed by Chan Hing-Kar and Janet Chun Siu-Jan
Written by Chan Hing-Kar, Ho Miu-Kei, and Fung Ching-Ching

All’s Well Ends Well 2011 follows in the footprints of it’s four predecessors in presenting a series of couples who spend the majority of the film bickering about the nature of love and then end up all marrying or getting together at the end. The previous film a year prior reset the action to ancient China, but we’re back to modern day and with an almost entirely new cast, save Louis Koo and a few brief cameos (AngelaBaby, Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Stephy Tang Lai-Yan, and a billion others!) The story is a mix of several stereotypical lovers stories, with a healthy mix of fantasy scenes and goofy side characters to keep things going until everyone gets married.

Sammy (Louis Koo Tin-Lok) – Sammy is a famous makeup artist who obsesses over women, despite putting on an air of homosexuality. But all shells must crack, and Sammy meets his match in his personal assistant, Claire. Louis Koo continues to be in every movie ever made in Hong Kong. See him here in Mr. and Mrs. Incredible.
Claire (Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi) – Sammy’s personal assistant at the cosmetic company. She takes her job serious and doesn’t waste time chasing after money. Sammy defends her through all the crap she takes from other people, causing her to have feelings for him instead of the billionaire chasing after her. This is Cecilia’s big return to the screen after the Edison Chen photo scandal and taking a break to have some children. Between the time I watched this film and the time the review was published, Cecilia and her husband Nicholas Tse became embroiled in a huge divorce drama. Cecilia is also here in The Promise and My Kung Fu Sweetheart.
Clerk Chan (Raymond Wong Pak-Ming) – Clerk Chan is a billionaire businessman too busy to spend time with his girlfriend, so he gives her a cosmetics company to keep her busy until he has time to marry her. This backfires when Dream begins to spend all her time making the company work. Raymond Wong has been in all of the All’s Well, Ends Well films.
Dream (Yan Ni) – Clerk’s girlfriend who he puts in charge of a cosmetics company to keep her busy while he does business deals. Dream takes the job serious and becomes very involved in her company. Clerk must work to keep her heart.
Arnold Cheng (Donnie Yen Ji-Dan) – A cosmetics salesman and friendly rival to Sammy, who recruits him to his new company. Arnold is also friends with Mona. Donnie Yen co-directed Protege de la Rose Noire
Mona (Carina Lau Ka-Ling) – a writer who gets invested in her books and is friends with Arnold. Carina Lau was also in Detective Dee

One interesting spin is that at least one of the couples is already together at the beginning, the rich couple Clerk Chan and Dream. Chan spends a lot of time off doing business ventures, leaving his bored girlfriend home alone. Upon getting worried senseless by a colleague, he buys a make up business for her to run to keep her occupied. Dream is originally more interested in getting Clerk’s attention so he’ll notice her more, but as the film progresses she becomes more of a business lady herself, especially as her boyfriend gets increasingly distant and absent (though that all has an explanation that is just as happy ending as every other story in the All’s Well franchise.)

Louis Koo plays famous makeup artist Sammy, who is a publicity hound and a woman fiend, though he spends most of his time pretending he’s gay (a point the film barely bothers with except to reassure the audience members who are worried they’re hiring him to spend lots of working time with Dream at the makeup company.) Sammy gets a personal assistant in the form of Cecilia Cheung, returning to film after a multi-year absence due to the Edison Chen photo scandal and birthing some babies. Her acting technique in the film mainly consists of looking like she’s about to cry as she delivers every line. This is punctuated by the few times she does cry. We know the moment she’s introduced, the faithful assistant Claire and Sammy will end up together, but we get the runaround with a plot involving a billionaire guy named Smoothie (Chapman To) trying to woo her. This has an interesting dynamic because the billionaire and his crazy ex-girlfriend Victoria (Lynn Hung) actually become the fourth couple to get married at the end, which is odd because that couple does stuff not quite as wholesome as the other couples (they cheat with each other while he’s still seeing Cecilia’s character.) That doesn’t stop them from being featured on the various promotional posters as the fourth couple. But even billionaire cheaters and crazy ex-girlfriends deserve love, that’s the message of All’s Well Ends Well 2011. I give them 9 months.

The final couple is makeup artist Arnold Cheng (Donnie Yen) and romance writer Mona (Carina Lau) This coupling is largely ignored for most of the film, and seems included just to add more star power (Donnie Yen being red hot right now in the overseas market) and to afford a chance to riff on Yen’s Ip Man films before Wong Jing does it all proper, and with Donnie Yen himself doing the riffing. Carina Lau’s turn as the author Mona is wonderful, her character throws herself into her various historical novels and becomes the time period and characters. She’s forever chasing those stories and forever chasing her idea of love. She seems in love with the very idea of love. Yen is her best friend, but they never worked out at lovers even though he feels for her. Their arc consists of her getting engaged to another man and Yen’s role of getting her prepared for the wedding. Since it is no shock that they end up together as well, it is no real spoiler to say the fabled fiancee never existed. As much as this couple seemed to have no real place with the rest of the cast, their chemistry together and Carina Lau’s amazing performance make them the couple I cared about the most. Yen does have interactions with Sammy (the backstory is they were former friendly rivals in beauty school), including a run of luck at a mahjong game, and an awesome scene where Sammy eats dinner with Yen’s extended family (all female) who think they are a couple.

On interesting sequence involves Arnold Cheng running the mall department store for the Chinese cosmetic company, and confronting the female shoppers who assume that all Chinese brands are terrible, probably made of concrete, and not worth a speck when compared to Western or Japanese brands. Of course, Cheng proves their brand is good thanks to his awesome salesmanship skills, but Chinese patrons discouraging local brands for overseas products is probably very common (even though a good chunk of those brands are probably made right there in China!), and it was fascinating to see the issue brought up in a film.

All’s Well Ends Well had its modern peak with the 2010 entry, 2011 is a letdown partially because 2010 was so well done. The absence of Sandra Ng is also felt, though you could just pretend Mr. and Mrs. Incredible was the 2011 entry, as series regulars Louis Koo and Sandra Ng are both in it. The other Lunar New Year comedy in 2011 was I Love Hong Kong, the followup to 72 Tenants of Prosperity, and that did better at the box office (leading for the year until 3D Sex and Zen blew everything away!) It even managed to snag Sandra Ng away. And while I Love Hong Kong might be a better film, it will not translate nearly as well overseas as the more generic All’s Well Ends Well 2011.

All’s Well Ends Well 2011 is not a bad film, it is just unfortunately following up something I liked much better, and the various couple stories failing to flow together well hurt the film’s appeal. If you’re hurting for a new Hong Kong comedy, this isn’t a bad choice, but it’s also not a choice I’ll be telling my friends to run down and buy the vcd of.

Rated 6/10 (agreeing to the job, laugh time, spoof time, cameo time, more cameo time, cameo time everywhere)

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