Cupid One

In his second outing for Cinema City (Esprit Dí Amour being the first), Ringo Lam tries his hand at screwball comedy with Sally Yeh and Mark Cheng. It contains one of the main screwball trademarks  Ė a slightly ditzy rich person gets involved with someone outside of their class Ė and the film contains some near sublime comic moments. Unfortunately, Lam loses his light touch for the last third of the film and the heavy handed plot turn takes all of the wind out of this filmís sails. It is really a shame because the first hour is very amusing.

Sally Yeh is a rich heiress engaged to the wimpy (another screwball device) son of one of her dead fatherís business associates. On the way to her engagement party, her car breaks down and while trying to hitch a ride she is nearly run over by Mark Cheng. In trying to avoid her, his car swerves and ends up teetering on the edge of a steep hill. In a funny sequence, Sally manages to get her car working and at the same time sends his car to the bottom of the hill. She then wisely takes off like a bat out of hell leaving him in the dust and cursing her existence.

Later after the engagement party, a very tipsy Sally finds her way to a yacht and falls asleep in the inviting bed. When she wakes in the morning, she finds herself on the way to Thailand with of course Mark Cheng at the helm. He is delivering some cargo there and had assumed the lump in the bed was his mate. So they are stuck with each other for ten days on the high seas.
The scene in which they discover each otherís presence is well done and shows that Lam can be very adept at comedy. Mark is coming out of the shower naked, Sally is under the covers naked  - and he thinking the lump is his friend continues to try to grab the covers off, while Sally struggles to remain undiscovered and covered at the same time. When they both all of a sudden realize what the situation is and start trying to cover themselves up with the same material it is very clever and wacky.
As one might expect in this type of film, there is a clash of wills between the spoiled socialite and the gruff seaman who thinks she is a hooker and some funny material comes from this. Then of course comes the getting attracted to each other phase. This was all done in a fairly sweet and engaging manner, but once they finally get to Thailand Lam takes a turn into a slightly dark obsessive corner and the film gets lost.
The absolutely bright spot of this film is Sally Yeh. She shows a wonderful ability to do comedy and is completely charming in this film. She can elicit laughs with the slightest of material and does both physical and visual comedy quite well. And like all great female comedians, she can be sexy when she has to.
Cheng on the other hand approaches comedy like breaking through a brick wall. This was his debut and it feels like he studied at he HK Acting School of SHOUTING. Nearly every line he has is done in full vocal mode and it gets quite grating very quickly. There is little reason to want Sally to end up with him. For some reason, I kept thinking throughout that Chow Yun Fat (who stars with Sally in The Killer and The Occupant) would have been great in that role. But that was not the case unfortunately.