All's Well, Ends Well

Reviewed by YTSL

What a stellar cast this Chinese New Year production boasts!  With a list headed by Stephen Chow (Hong Kong's foremost funny man), Maggie Cheung (who does excel at comedy as well as drama and falling down stairs), Leslie Cheung (a truly multi-talented performer), Sandra Ng (another versatile Hong Kong actress), Raymond Wong (who also co-directed this effort) and Teresa Mo (someone I would like to see more of; who also appeared in John Woo's last Hong Kong work), it actually is small wonder that this zany movie was the second -- only to "Justice, My Foot!" -- highest grossing film at the Hong Kong Box Office(s) in 1992; drawing more crowds and financially outperforming such esteemed works as "Swordsman II" (8th on that year's list), "Police Story III:  Supercop" (10th), "Dragon Inn" (16th), "Once Upon a Time in China" I and II (17th  and 12th respectively), and "Hard Boiled" (18th).

Sandra Ng, Leslie Cheung and Raymond Wong
In ALL'S WELL, ENDS WELL:  Stephen Chow's Foon Foon is a womanizing deejay, one of whose attempted conquests is a Hollywood movie-mad Miss Hollyok (played by Maggie Cheung, whose first appearance is in a pointy metal bra Madonna get-up!); Raymond Wong takes on the role of a man who treats his wife (regardless of what form she comes in -- that of Sandra Ng or another actress whose name I do not know) like a servant, preferring to have fun with his mistress (ditto); while Leslie Cheung is the nice girlish boy-man who dotes on his ugly duckling sister-in-law (Ng) and chastises his brothers (Chow and Wong) for their general ill-treatment of women but very much dislikes a (distant?) female relative of his played by the usually perky Teresa Mo.  Since all three brothers continue to live in the same house with their parents (a not unusual situation among East Asians), characters meet and stories do intermingle somewhat.
The Magster and Stephen Chow
In a nutshell:  This Clifton Ko- and Raymond Wong-helmed work is a prime example of those thoroughly eager-to-please -- sometimes to the point of surreal ridiculousness (cf. "The Eagle Shooting Heroes"!) efforts that seems to characterize Chinese New Year offerings from the Hong Kong movie world.  If you are the kind of person who is happy to star-gaze, and to watch people happily acting silly, then this extremely light-hearted movie will suit you fine.  Another factor in this lightweight production's favor is that while its plot is quite lacking (the film often feels like a series of loose sketches), it truly is gag-filled.  But IMHO, the true gauge(s) of how you will respond to ALL'S WELL, ENDS WELL may well lie in whether you find the following -- which REALLY do all take place in this film -- to be hysterically funny or amusing (or just plain weird):
Scenes of a temporarily insane Stephen Chow being in love with and (consequently?) drinking his own urine from -- his bedpan...Chow and Maggie Cheung twice (thrice?  I must confess that my mind was so boggled by then that I might have forgotten to count!) performing the Double Inverted Eiffel Tower Kissing Technique...Miss Hollyok and Foon Foon attempting to live -- as well as act -- out scenes from such Hollywood productions as "Ghost", "Pretty Woman" and "Misery"...a butch Teresa Mo clashing with -- at one point, using a baseball bat on and threatening to rape the father of a truly effeminate-acting (flower-arranging class teaching, lantern weaving!) Leslie Cheung...and Sandra Ng playing and transforming from Raymond Wong's homely, parsimonious, Karaoke-croaking wife into an attractive club girl.
Cheung, Teresa Mo and Maggie
My own feeling is that this movie has both inspired but also lame moments.  It also is undoubtedly so that while ALL'S WELL, ENDS WELL is enjoyable enough, most -- if not all -- of the individuals involved have done quite a few better things.  As such, I must admit to being somewhat disappointed that this major box office success -- which has gone on to spawn at least two similarly titled semi-sequels -- is as uneven as it generally is, even while acknowledging that there were times when it not unpleasantly made me more feel more light-headed than I have been for a while...

My rating for the film:  7.


Don't try this at home, kids