Hooked On You (2007)

Directed by: Law Wing-Cheong
Written by: Fung Chi-Keung
Producer: Johnnie To
Starring: Miriam Yeung, Eason Chan, Huang Bo, Stanley Fung, Fung Shiu-Fung, Guan Jian, Tan En-Mei & David Lo

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Miu (Miriam Yeung) runs one of the fish stalls at the Fortune Market along with her gambling addict father (Stanley Fung). A feud with rival vendor Fishman (Eason Chan) will turn into friendship plus feelings of more as they two move through history between 1997 to 2007...

To coincide with the 10 year anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the British back into Chinese hands, a number of Hong Kong movies turned up to mark the occasion. Made to order or their own individual product remains to be seen after my gaze at the likes of Samson Chiu's Mr. Cinema and Barbara Wong's Wonder Women. Now however we take a look at what popped out out of the Milkyway camp! Hooked On You sees in-house regular Law Wing-Cheong having a go at a second solo feature after the thoughtful but ultimately unexceptional breast cancer comedy 2 Become 1. Having faith injected from the producing camp (hey look, there's Johnnie To!) and getting rom/com queen Miriam Yeung to commit again, Law does the ultimate good thing by ejecting the need of spicing up sincerity with a lot of 120db behaviour. Hooked On You is a success story therefore.

Doing the right thing by placing us in a reality that rarely strays, Law Wing-Cheong upgrades himself from 2 Become 1 by making an actual good, fluffy experience and his long term working relationship with Milkyway (among other things as editor) generates a skill and confidence that you need when embarking on any type of decision making for your particular genre film. For Hooked On You, we find characters demanded to make demands and decisions for themselves, preferably before the age of 30. Placing them amidst a real, bubbling environment easily related to (mainly the fish market with its many stalls), our two main subjects essayed with substance and likeability by Miriam Yeung and Eason Chan do not see eye to eye initially of course. In fact, in terms of how you achieve emotional payoff represents a difference of opinion between the two as well. She does try out types in order to find love and safety at the same time but possesses so much fright that she leaves hurt behind via her own fear. He advocates paying for sex as that gives life-pleasure enough to keep your head over water. You think they will change or not?

Hooked On You doesn't apologize for utilizing the 90 minute romantic comedy structure but does have a hell of a lot more to say rather than solely working with the boy meets girl-template. For one, it has a 10 year span, echoing actual reality for the working men and women. When running a business, you can't follow the same path forever but you got to upgrade, says the metropolitan surroundings. However when even the Fortune Market begin taking credit cards, they're seriously behind and Miu, rocking back and forth to find footing fits well alongside the desperate attempts mentioned. Miu manages to sacrifice quite a bit of herself and others in a rather fun send-up of the millennium bug that actually has the vendors believe it's a disease they need medicine for. And it's a pyramid scam too. Fun here turns to somber and sad without being cloying as director Law begins flirting with notions that Miu will have to sacrifice emotions for safety. But it's a challenging character in a way because she does reject the very likeable and sincere Fishman who wants the ideal, sincere life and wants to be an ideal husband. He's not scaring her in any way but audiences may be approaching a point of closure where these two ultimately will be separated despite being right for each other.

Law Wing-Cheong embraces his home grounds and embraces simplicity by never arguing he's making something out of the ordinary though. The backdrop of the last 10 years of bumpy Hong Kong history doesn't mean Hooked On You transforms into social commentary. Law settles correctly for minor satire and the evident theme of having goals yet coming to an understanding that you're not supposed to be crushed if you've not achieved them, only learned why turns out to be quite magical when he pushes for quiet passages and subtlety. By caring for the non-complex, simple fates of Miu and Fishman, he gets his actors to commit by communicating via age old, effective beats.

We care and Hooked On You reaches a logical point by the end that doesn't surprise but doesn't come out as expected either. Milkyway flicks of different genres have certainly done that as well but there's no Expect The Unexpected punishment handed out here. Law Wing-Cheong tracks back to seeds planted earlier and although the circle completed that means unification is on paper a rather worn choice, it's effective, uplifting and ultimately very competent. Law Wing-Cheong has now gone from making a 10 cent hamburger flick to somewhat akin to a full, easily digestible meal. Something very much needed and welcome in a Hong Kong cinema struggling to even work magic out of this simpleminded genre.

The DVD:

Mega Star presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.76:1, with anamorphic enhancement. Looking soft initially by design, the remainder of the experience remains colourful and sufficiently sharp.

Audio options are Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1, Cantonese DTS 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 but as I'm not equipped with such a system, my assessment of this disc aspect will be left off this review.

The English subtitles contain very few errors and read well on the whole. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also included. On the extras front we find the trailer and the Making Of (14 minutes, 1 second and subtitled into Chinese only). The sight of a very happy Law Wing-Cheong being interviewed and his participation to a great degree on set is fun to watch but otherwise the program seems standard.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson