A series of intertwining stories focus on the lives and transformations of three women.A series of intertwining stories focus on the lives and transformations of three women.A series of intertwining stories focus on the lives and transformations of three women.
One might think that such a claim really doesn't say much considering the rather unexceptional output of quality rom coms from Hong Kong and Mainland China. "West Lake Moment" (2004) was probably the best up to this point, but there have been other entertaining titles such as "Good Times Bed Times" (2003), "Drink Drank Drunk" (2005), "Love Undercover" (2002), etc. Nevertheless, the Chinese are still far behind the Koreans, who have literally dominated the rom com genre during the 21st century.
Enter "All About Women", which knocks out the competition in a surprisingly effortless fashion that will have professional critics dumping in their Depends. Like most great Chinese films made after the year 2000, this one is destined to be trashed up and down the block while earning an IMDb average score well below the latest fad (which just so happens to be the endless line of big-budget Chinese historical epics that ape Hollywood with poor scriptwriting, zero energy, and overblown pretentiousness). So how exactly does "All About Women" accomplish such a high level of entertainment? Well, it uses the following strategy.
1. Kwai Lunmei plays a badass punk rocker/amateur boxer/internet novelist with an imaginary boyfriend; and 2. Zhou Xun plays an uptight doctor with selective full-body stiffness and a lifetime supply of pheromone-enhanced love potion.
Absolutely brilliant! Both actresses are amongst the most charismatic in the Eastern hemisphere, and the mere idea of having BOTH in the same film is a good one. Add to this the scheme of having both actresses play over-the-top roles, and the idea becomes that's right absolutely brilliant! The only possible way that this faultless strategy could fail is if the script was terrible. Most unexpectedly, this movie almost feels Japanese in its restrained quirkiness and use of creative scriptwriting. Despite the high octane wackiness that's packed into two full hours, it's difficult to think of one moment that doesn't succeed. That's quite an accomplishment for a Chinese movie of this kind, and with two awesome lead actresses eating up the camera, there's enough starlet firepower to make this the single best Chinese rom com in existence.
In other words, "All About Women" will garner a whole lot of bad ratings and furious reviews. Not because it's a bad film, but because it panders to moviegoers who purely and simply want to be ENTERTAINED. An unforgivable sin in these cinematic dark ages we currently live in, where most lemmings seem incapable of delineating between good popcorn entertainment and soulless garbage. How do you think "Red Cliff" (2008) earns so much acclaim? It's essentially a brainless film with subpar scriptwriting, exaggerated/forced dialogue, and lame action scenes; but its overblown reputation precedes it with such marketing force that 90% of the movie-going public decide to love it even before witnessing the opening title sequence. I tell you this, John Woo's return to Chinese film-making was enough to earn an IMDb average rating of 7.0 regardless of the essentially worthless byproduct that was actually made. In like manner, "The Warlords" was driven by coupling the testosterone of three of the most popular East Asian actors with the big-budget historical epic. This project didn't even qualify as a successful popcorn film, and it ends up winning a BEST PICTURE award. What a joke.
"All About Women" isn't graced with the same self-fulfilling prophecies, leaving it wholly underrated and under-appreciated. There are so many effective comedic set pieces within that it's almost beyond my understanding as to how someone could possibly hate this film. How can you not laugh at how Kwai screws up that live concert? I've never seen a scene quite like that. How can you not be entertained during that crazy wedding gown scene with Zhou? This is great stuff that arguably rises above simple brainlessness for no other reason than for it's impressive creativity that tosses lovable protagonists into dubious situations by using their character flaws and quirks in a variety of ways. Heck, the script for "All About Women" is qualitatively better than any Chinese historical epic in recent memory because it kept me engaged, amused, and on the edge of my seat for practically every minute of its running time.
Perhaps most viewers confuse "quality" with "pretention", but that still didn't stop me from going online and purchasing a DVD of this film within 10 minutes of watching it.
- Jan 31, 2009