Needing You

Reviewed by YTSL

My goodness!  Johnnie To really wasn't kidding when he stated earlier this year that he wanted to move away from the dark tones and bleak moods that characterize Milkyway Image Productions like "Beyond Hypothermia", "Intruder", "The Longest Nite" and "Expect the Unexpected".  And not only does this breezy 100 Years of Film maiden offering seem more like a United Filmmaker's Organization (UFO) film but producer-directors To and Wai Ka Fai also may well have outplayed Peter Chan, Eric Tsang and Co. at the latter's game:  By coming out with a genuinely funny but also heartwarming hit which began its theatrical run in Hong Kong on June 23rd and is still going strong in cinemas there as I write this review at the start of the second week of August (an act of staying power which represents a major feat in a part of the world where movies can seem to come and go quicker than buses in other lands).

Although the title of NEEDING YOU may recall Johnnie To's pre-Milkyway Image but still rather darkly dramatic "Loving You", it possesses a zaniness more akin to that of "Eighth Happiness" (a farcical piece in which Chow Yun-Fat infamously plays the sissy suitor of Cherie Chung and Carol "Do Do" Cheng, that few will immediately realize that To directed).  The movie owes much of this feel and its spark to Sammi Cheng (and her portrayal of the at times rather manic but always endearing Kinki Kwok).  Not since Anita Yuen in her heyday -- and maybe Charlie Yeung -- has this (re)viewer seen such a lovable eccentric live wire of a female Hong Kong movie lead.  I am quite willing to bet that few people will not be initially incredulous, then amused and also charmed when watching her scene-stealing actions.

All in all, it seems easy to understand why both Kinki's boss (Andy Lau's Andy Cheung is the honorable straight man to Kinki's equally honorable comic) and a youthful computer genius billionaire (Roger Young - who is friends with Bill Gates and, like him, dropped out of Harvard -- comes in the form of a cute-looking Raymond Wong Ho-Yin) introduced to her by Andy's ex-wife (Fiona Yu -- played by Fiona Leung -- clearly still possesses quite a bit of affection and/or lust for the older man) find themselves falling for the often scatty yet inspired, and generally hard-working and well-meaning, office worker.  This is all the more so upon realizing how willing to help her colleagues (even those who aren't particularly nice), unswayed by the wealth of others, able to deal with difficult children and able to win over potential parents-in-law as well as actual clients she is.  As such, it is entirely more difficult to understand why the man who is Kinki's boyfriend at the start of NEEDING YOU (difficult-to-please Dan is portrayed by Gabriel Harrison) doesn't majorly appreciate her until Andy teaches Kinki to play well the game of feminine seduction.
Wai Ka Fai and Yau Na Hoi's script may not always seem logical or realistic - this none more so than with regards to the caricatures who comprise Kinki and Roger's other family members - but it definitely delivers laughs aplenty and a fun time for the audience of NEEDING YOU.  The production also benefits from having good supporting actors like Lam Suet (whose smirky character doesn't say much more other than "of course" -- in English! -- yet succeeds in drawing out titters as a intra-business rival of Andy) and Hui Siu Hung (as the kind of humorless individual you don't really want to have either in your team or competing against you.  N.B. Quite a bit of this movie involves office manouvers and battles as well as romantic campaigns and entanglements).  Some easy mirth-provoking additionally comes by way of allusions to, and light-hearted mockery of, Andy Lau's "A Moment of Romance" biker character.
It is probably so that those already familiar with Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng's public - Cantopop not just movie - images will particularly appreciate NEEDING YOU.  However, apart from some snickers over the name accorded the main female character, shock at some gross out scenes that take place across the still existing HKSAR-Mainland Chinese border in Shenzhen and necessary suspension of disbelief with regards to the power of love amulets and messages on placards, this is a joyous work that really ought to bring at least a smile to the faces of those who can't tell Andy Lau from Andy Hui and even Sammi Cheng from Ekin.

My rating for the film:  8.