It’s no secret to anyone that I rather fancy Andy Lau, and rather like Johnnie To’s work, so it should be no surprise that I enjoy this film. And it must be said that there’s a lot to like, at least for those of you who enjoy the occasional romantic comedy.
For starters, Andy demonstrates the charm for which he’s become famous as a matinee idol. He also demonstrates his skill at throwing up: yep, no Andy film is complete without a scene allowing Wah-jai to empty his oesophagus. Sammi, his more abstemious companion, has to sit nearby listening to The Yunting One, who mumbles complaints about his lot in life while crouching in a puddle of assorted animal products fresh from his gastrointestinal tract.
Of course, there’s about 98 minutes of the film where he’s not throwing up, which is a relief. Some scenes, indeed, do gladden an old Andy-watcher’s heart: I’m thinking here of the opening scene, which features Andy performing his ablutions, and another in which he cleans his bathroom. It’s clear that polishing the porcelain is something he doesn’t often do, but he has such marvellous bones that we forgive him that small flaw. And my opportunities to view Andy in his undergarments are more rare than I would like, so any film containing such must be scrutinised carefully.
Here I must digress momentarily to brag: when I visited the Milkyway offices during The Legendary Johnnie To Evening last April, we sat on some fine leather couches while chatting with interesting people (and ogling a Fulltime Killer doll with real leather pants). On a subsequent viewing of Needing You, I noticed with drop-jawed amazement that, not only did Andy sit on the very couch on which I’d parked my bot, but he was sitting in the same spot. If I’d known that at the time, I must say that I’d have wriggled about a bit more.
But enough of me, and back to the story. For Sammi-watchers, our girl stumbles around Central, indulging in intensive retail therapy but still somehow looking as though she’s been dressed by an English grandmother with serious concerns about chills, kidneys, and always having a safety pin in her bra. Anyone who’s seen an earlier Sammi flick called Killing Me Tenderly, or even the Ekin-ridden Feel 100% films, knows that our Sammi can come across as strong, sexy and serious, so her ditzy turn here is quite a departure.
A particularly delightful scene takes place in a restaurant: Andy, laden with a dish of noodles topped with steaming fresh bull’s penis, sits down to discover Sammi next to him. Now perhaps Sammi is made of sterner stuff than I, because if Andy Lau sat down next to me he could eat live lizards for all I cared, as I’d be focussed solely on the razor-sharp Lau jawbone (among other things too numerous to mention). But Sammi, accustomed as she must be to handsome, talented men dropping out of the sky into her vicinity, notices the meal. The bull’s penis meal. To which is added, with a splash of sauce, “the best part”. Now ask yourself: could you watch someone eat the best part of a bull’s penis?
That question I shall leave you to ponder. If you feel up to the challenge, then this, bull’s penis or no, is a fine romantic comedy. It shows the painstaking care and manifest talents of Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai, as well as the good looks and skills of Andy and Sammi, set against the background of uber-urban Hong Kong. I loved it. You might too.