100 Ways to Murder Your Wife

Reviewed by YTSL
 

A cautionary note:  There is a very strong possibility that I missed out on a lot of the featured jokes in this comedy on account of my not being able to understand its Cantonese dialogue and read the horridly huge subtitles which had so much cut off on the sides and from the bottom of my TV screen that they might as well not have existed.  Alternatively, it really might have been my good fortune that this offering is more reliant on visuals rather than verbals to elicit guffaws, giggles, chuckles, sniggers and smiles from its audience.  It also is not impossible that I might have grossly misinterpreted the tenor of this 1986 movie's humor.  If the latter is true, perhaps it was for the best; since I found so much of this Kenny Bee-directed film to be an incredible laugh riot.

Beyond the language issues:  With a title like 100 WAYS TO MURDER YOUR WIFE, and a story-line which really does involve two men making a pact to kill the other's wife for him, there is some likelihood that not everyone might be as appreciative of that which I did find hysterically funny.  For what it's worth though, this female (re)viewer thought that this star-studded production (whose leads are Chow Yun-Fat, Joey Wong, Kenny Bee and Anita Mui; and which features guest appearances by Wong Jing -- yes, THAT Wong Jing! -- and Wu Ma) is much less misogynistic and mean-spirited  than many might assume.  At the very least, even while it's the men in this film who do provide the audience with the bulk of the laughs, it's the women who come off looking like better -- or more grown up -- human beings.
In 100 WAYS TO MURDER YOUR WIFE, Chow Yun-Fat plays the captain and goalkeeper of a Malaysian soccer team which came to participate in a tournament in Hong Kong.  Football Fat -- yes, this is one of those movies where some of the characters have the same name as the actors who play them! -- also happens to be the immensely jealous husband of a beautiful as well as sweet former Miss Malaysia named Joey (who is portrayed by -- you guessed it! -- Joey Wong).  When Fat sees Joey happily chatting with other men, be it the soccer squad's gay doctor or a friendly but equally innocent member of a rival team, he gets so enraged that he not only has to utter wordless screams but also needs to pull all the leaves off any poor plant within grasping distance.
Things come to a head one day when Fat thinks he's overhearing Joey and the team doctor plotting to poison him (I can't be sure but my sense is that they were in fact trying to figure out how to add vitamin and other kinds of healthy supplements to his diet).  That evening, there's a party at Fat and Joey's temporary Hong Kong residence (loaned to them for the duration of their stay there by Wong Jing).  Roberto, the star of the Hong Kong soccer team (who comes in the form of this film's director), is one of its attendees.  He himself is stewing about his wife (a clothes designer with questionable tastes, high ambitions and an obviously sharp tongue portrayed by Anita Mui), who had humiliated him in front of his neighbors just before he left for the party.  Ignoring her instructions to not drink alcohol while there (and also return home early), Roberto proceeds to drink the evening away with Fat and come to an agreement which sends Fat off to kill his already angry wife while he does the same to the unsuspecting Joey.
Suffice to say here that the first murder attempts were not successful.  And although there weren't as many as 100 ways enacted by the two bumbling men to kill their wives, we are indeed shown quite a few; many of which are obviously too imaginative and outlandish to be all that easily and successfully carried out by rank amateurs.  Piranhas, a giant television set, a swimming pool, a deck chair, ice darts propelled from a catapult, thick glass designed to channel the sun's rays to burn and more get commandeered by the men for their nefarious purposes.  Along the way in 100 WAYS TO MURDER YOUR WIFE, we also are treated to such sights as:  Anita Mui and Chow Yun Fat brandishing large kitchen knives at each other; Joey booting Fat in the head with a soccer ball and also whacking that part of him with her hand; Anita Mui pouting until she is allowed to score a goal past Kenny Bee; Roberto washing his hair in a urinal; Fat playing a drinking-cum-chanting game with a dummy; the two husbands bawling like babies and getting mistaken for a gay couple in at a discotheque; and the two wives throwing temper tantrums plus hijacking a hot air balloon.
If the descriptions furnished so far of events in the film do not make you smile or want to check out 100 WAYS TO MURDER YOUR WIFE, then it will obviously not be your cup of tea.  For myself, the zest and glee with which its stars inhabited their roles and did whatever they did in the madcap movie was itself a truly fun sight to behold.  How much did I enjoy this work?  Let's say that I almost didn't want it to end; and as it was, took about twice as long to watch the movie as one might usually do because I found myself rewinding and rewatching so many bits of it.  Furthermore, I am being entirely serious in stating that this is one of those gems that I am extremely happy to have stumbled across in my continuing exploration of what Hong Kong cinema has to offer.

My rating for the film:  8.5