He's a Woman, She's a Man

This UFO produced movie won all sorts of HK movie awards for good reason. It is simply a delightful and sophisticated tale of sexual and emotional confusion. For some reason it struck me as the sort of film Lubitsch would have made if he were alive in HK today.
Anita Yuen disguises herself as a man so that she can try out for a singing gig  with music producer Leslie Cheung and thus be close to her idol the singer Carina Lau. Even though she can't sing a lick, she/he gets the job because Leslie wants to prove that he can make a success of anyone. She moves in with both Leslie and his love Carina to be mentored.
Lots of funny and touching complications arise between all the characters as Leslie finds himself attracted to Anita who he of course thinks is a man and now he thinks he is gay and it is just the opposite for Carina. Not as confusing as I perhaps make it sound. A terrific film in every way with three very charming performances and a few good songs thrown in.

 Reviewed by YTSL

At one point in this effervescent movie, established singer Rose (played by Carina Lau) asks music producer Sam (played by Leslie Cheung) how his latest "project" -- an aspiring pop star (played by Anita Yuen) -- is coming along. Sam replies that he thinks that things are promising since Wing (Anita Yuen) has "heart".  Rose's response is to scoff and say that it takes more than "heart" to be able to sing well.  Rose's point is undoubtedly a valid one.  It also is hard to dispute that a movie needs more than "heart" to be a good one.  Alternatively, one could say that having plenty of "heart" can count for a lot -- maybe even turn some thing from "just" good to great -- and "heart" is precisely what HE'S A WOMAN, SHE'S A MAN has in abundance and benefits immensely from having.

Okay.  I'll come out and freely admit it: I ADORE this music-filled romantic-comedy.  When it is realized how much I normally hate unsubtitled Cantopop interludes in Hong Kong movies, do not consider myself a romantic and sometimes wonder whether Hong Kong comedies are too cultural specific for me to appreciate, it really is a wonder that I so love it!

In its favor though, this magical creation has so much of what I do like about Hong Kong movies.  This includes: Innovatory touches (the cockroach-cam and the reciting of tongue-twisters in elevators as well as the very premise of a female fan disguising herself as a man to get a shot not so much at fame as to be able to meet her idols); manic moments (such as the frenzied sequence involving Anita Yuen, Carina Lau and the cockroach; not to mention the auditions by a whole slew of real "personalities"); quick pacing; and thought-provoking as well as funny, well-delivered dialogue.  There also are the good-humored cultural references (to Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Michelangelo as well as Hong Kong movie and music stars) and industry in-jokes (both Anita Yuen and Leslie Cheung's Chinese names having "Wing" as part of them gives truth to the wonderful androgynous quality of the newly contracted singer's name) which I have come to look forward to spotting!

Best of all though, IMHO, there are the three-dimensional -- even if larger-than-life -- characters who one ends up really caring for (so much so that it pains one to realize that at least one of them will be hurt before the end of the movie) and an all-round charismatic cast. Jordan Chan (a Cantopop star whose first film this was) and Eric Tsang  (a wonderful character actor) delight.  Carina Lau is wonderful, whether she is called on to be triumphant, bitchy, indignant, flirty, amused, tender or wistful.  Leslie Cheung -- and this is no mean feat -- acts as well as he sings while Anita Yuen absolutely convincingly makes one understand how it is possible for both a man and a woman to fall for Lam Chi Wing.

My rating for this film:  10.