|Index||4 reviews in total|
Depending on how you feel about such things, this movie is a)
tasteless; b) politically incorrect or c) transgressiveespecially by
2005 American conventions. Since it was made for a local audience 17
years ago the point can be made that we can't really judge it from a
very different time and placethat to do so would be anachronistic,
imposing standards that didn't exist then.
However..."How to Pick Girls Up" is an only occasionally funny comedy. Its view of women is not untypical of mainstream movies, whether made in Hollywood, Western Europe or Hong Kong. It says that women must have men in order to exist. In the Wong Jing universe a woman might be intelligent, rich, successful, talented and drop dead gorgeous. But until she hooks up with a guyeven if the guy is stupid, poor, ineffectual, crude and uglyshe has to keep looking. And a morally reprehensible guy, like the Love Pain Killer, is still better than none at all.
The only reason to see this movie is the actresses. I rented it because it has two of my favoritesMaggie Cheung and Chingmy Yau. Since I would gladly crawl across a field of broken glass in order to touch the hem of Maggie Cheung's garment (or something like that) sitting through ninety minutes of a Wong Jing masterpiece in order to see her was not much to ask. "How to Pick Girls Up" was released in 1988a year that saw ELEVEN movies with the Maggster hit the screens. It was Chingmy Yau's second movie.
In watching the early work of favorite artists it is difficult not to see it from the point of view of what they have becomeeven in such lightweight fare. There is a sense of inevitability that only exists when one is looking back. Obviously Maggie Cheung had a lot of fans in 1988but none of them could say that years later she would be one of the most respected motion picture actresses in the world, a person who drops into Berlin, Venice and Cannes in order to pick up a "Best Actress" award one year and to sit on the jury the next. After seeing "In the Mood for Love", "Comrades, Almost a Love Story", "Clean", Irma Vep", "Centre Stage" and several other films it is tempting to look this one and say that the kernel of her later success was apparent in her worktempting but wrong, of course.
She has a couple of excellent entrances and some decent linesnot only, for example was the father of her one year old son killed in a fight, ALL of her other ex-boyfriends died in street battles. A bit later we find that he was killed in a car accident and that she has had no other boyfriends. Maggie is a whirlwind of energy, easily dominating the lovesick Wilson Lam. We tend to empathize with himshe is gorgeous and full of life and her quasi-underworld background gives her an additional edge. But mainly Maggie hits her mark and says her lines. She plays a one dimensional character, which is the way her character (and everyone else) is written.
The same is essentially true of Chingmy Yau who plays Beibei. One can't make the leap from this movie to, for example, "Naked Killer"her insanely sexy overbite wasn't even deployed in "How to Pick Girls Up." The other actresses are also as good as they are allowed to be by the material. Elizabeth Lee is Hong the bat wielding friend of Beibei. It is hard to believe that Maggie's character would fall for the decent but painfully shy He Matong (Wilson Lam) or that successful TV actress Beibei would be interested in Xin Jeijinjgessentially Wong Jing playing Wong Jing. But it is impossible to think that Fei Changfan (Stanley Fong) would get a second glance from Hong after his disgusting attempts to gain her favor.
At least when Ellen Chan as Yuki seems to fall for the Love Pain Killer himself it is clear that there is something happening under the surfaceshe must have an ulterior motive. The problem is that the other women don'tthey are just looking for guys to hang on to and it is obvious that just about any guy will do.
Recommended only for those (like me) who will see anything with a favorite actress.
I don't have much to add to ewa-3's excellent review, so I will
summarise what I agree with and add what I feel is missing.
Yes, it's rather distasteful (the term "politically incorrect" implies that such negative judgment is prudish or somehow undeserved, whereas this film is often deliberately offensive and unpleasant), and yes, it's of its time, although I can't say that attitudes in Hong Kong towards the mentally disabled, size-ism, racism, sexism, domestic violence or suicide have particularly changed in 25 years.
Yes, the girls are beautiful.
Yes, it's difficult not to think ahead to what these actresses would become, especially Maggie Cheung. If nothing else, she demonstrates quite a range here, from absurd to sentimental.
I think it also needs to be mentioned that this film has a very jerky pace, owing to the fact that it's very episodic and that the four main characters are connected to each other tenuously at best and their stories are told almost in series, rather than in parallel. The film also sometimes suffers from what it needs to do to set up twists for later on in the plot, including what seems to be a complete change in tone (and even genre) for the last reel.
It should also perhaps be mentioned how Eric Tsang shines in this film, somehow being caricature-ish but, unlike the other actors in the film, playing everything straight-faced and without pantomime. His high-pitched voice goes at a machine gun pace (at least, it does in the Cantonese dub) and some of the jokes go by so fast it's hard to get them all first time watching.
Finally, it's worth mentioning how this is a late Shaw Brothers film, comparable with Girl with the Diamond Slippers for its actors, director and overall tone. It is unclear whether it was filmed in Mandarin or Cantonese, or dubbed into both regardless of what was spoken on set, which makes it a little hard to judge or appreciate what the actors are doing, especially in a film where the dialogue is so rich. Still, as with many of these late Shaw Bros / early Maggie Cheung / Wong Jing films, it's worth a watch, if just the one.
This is an HK film about three losers in love who meet on the roof of a building when one threatens to jump. The always dependable Eric Tsang plays a radio dj who schools these guys on how to pick up girls. And, what girls! Ellen Chan, Chingmy Yau, Maggie Cheung and Elizabeth Lee. Wow! All four are beautiful. Sandra Ng is in this too, playing Eric's doormat of a wife. I love her work, but not her character. Still, at one point you see her all dressed up and she looks terrific. The jokes are crude, coarse and more then vaguely politically incorrect even for that time. The film is also a dizzying slapstick comedy, sometimes not coming up for air. I am giving it a pass due to the stunning ladies, but I would have liked to see everyone act a little more mature. Then again, it is an HK film, so I knew what I was looking to when I put it on.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ellen Chan was Hong Kong's popular movie director Wong Jing's favorite
actress. In 1998, Ellen Chan made both How to Pick Up Girls and
Inspector Wears Skirt. It was also the same time Hong Kong TVB start
paying real attention to this rare beauty.
Eric Tsang stars as "Love Pain Killer", a radio talk show host who provides advice on chasing girls, but the fact is he's got a very ugly wife acted by Sandra Ng Kwan Yue.
The supposedly hot girls in this movie include Chingmy Yau, Maggie Cheung, and Elizabeth Lee. There were supposed to be the hot babes. But, in the middle of the movie, Ellen Chan (Yuki) appeared and really kicked their butt. None of them can compare with the gorgeous Ellen Chan.
Eric Tsang start courting Ellen and surprisingly it was easy. Very soon, they start going out together. Then later, they were starting making love. Everybody was thinking, damn this lucky bastard.
Ellen Chan started to become demanding wanting him to divorce his wife. Eric Tsang said his wife is having cancer there he needs time. Ellen brought Sandra together. We have the top class beauty vs. the home made ugliest. There is really not much choice. Ellen Chan and Sandra Ng appeared in Inspectors Wears skirt portraying the same perspective best vs. worst. I am surprise that many years later in 2003, it was Sandra Ng who received the 2003 Best Actress Award at the Golden Horse Film Festival.
Hong Kong entertainment industry has become very dull. It could be the Chinese culture that they are shy in giving credits to beautiful woman. In the 80s and early 90s beautiful woman are all over the entertainment scene. The last 10 years were really different. They want to give all the awards and recognition to non beauties. I don't think this is what the viewers want, but the bosses seem to think that way. See what happen to Chingmy Yau and Elizabeth Lee? Back to the movie, Ellen Chan started to be very demanding storming to Eric Tsang's Radio station in her full red dress and threatening to die together for love.
At the end, it was all an Ellen Chan's trick. Ellen Chan was a psychologist and the cousin of Sandra Ng. Ellen wanted to teach him a lesson that beautiful woman are dangerous.
It becomes easier to accept as nobody will believe Ellen Chan will want a guy like Eric Tsang. Anyway, if given a choice nobody will want Sandra Ng when comparing with a top class beauty like Ellen Chan.
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