La Brassiere (2001)

Directed by: Patrick Leung & Chan Hing-Kar
Written by: Chan Hing-Kar & Amy Chin
Producers: Chan Hing-Kar & Amy Chin
Starring: Lau Ching Wan, Louis Koo, Carina Lau & Gigi Leung

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Awards at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards 2002:
Best Actor (Lau Ching Wan)

In an attempt to boost their sales and inject some originality into the market, an international bra company hires two men to design the 'Ultimate Bra'. The men are Johnny (Lau Ching Wan from Running Out of Time) and Wayne (Louis Koo from Bullets Over Summer) and over the next 3 months they're going to find out many things they didn't know about women or themselves for that matter.

It's kind of hard to believe that the directors of this charming movie have both previously worked with John Woo. Patrick Leung co-wrote the script to Bullet In The Head and Chan Hing-Kar co-wrote A Better Tomorrow. As soon as our male and female characters start to interact, it's pretty clear where this story is going. But what makes La Brassiere different from most romantic comedies is it's positive energy and heart. Furthermore the humour is top notch and the script (penned by Chan Hing-Kar and Amy Chin) is filled with snappy dialogue and funny situations, mainly concerning the bras. The absolute highlight comes when Johnny and Wayne themselves are attempting to wear bras in order to understand what women go through. It was probably very hard to get the actors to keep a straight face during the filming of this scene, so the directors used a take where the actors do break out into laughter. This makes it feel very real and it's an absolute joy to watch!

When you got a script that is quite predictable you need good actors to elevate it above the other movies in the same genre. As one of the male leads we find a well established action- and thriller actor; Lau Ching Wan. When I first saw that he was in this I got a bit worried since I only knew him from his serious roles. I could quickly let go of all that worry though.
Lau Ching Wan is willing to make himself look silly while he, at the same time, shows an astounding talent for comedy. Again this isn't an original character but in the hands of this veteran actor, it's enhanced so much more.

Louis Koo has been in a number of different genremovies lately (his most recent role is in Wilson Yips Dry Wood Fierce Fire) and while he has made a good impression on me before, I didn't expect him to be as good as Lau Ching Wan. He manages, with good skill, pull off the often crazy humour and the human elements of his character. Both Gigi Leung and Carina Lau are solid in their roles also, as our male characters respective romantic interests. These are not weak women at all but strong independent ones and I'm glad to see that shown here. We don't see that too often in Hollywoood for example.

All the sets and costumes are really well made and also really reflect the positive energy and heart of this movie. The man in charge of photographing all this is Fletcher Poon, whose previous credits include the disaster known as Gen-Y Cops, among others. Here he shows that he's a terrific DP and I hope to see him getting more good films to work on in the future.
The photography is so wonderfully sharp and vibrant without overdoing it in terms of style. Patrick Leung and Ching Hing-Kar directs with a lot of confidence it seems, but thanks to such a great team both behind and in front of the camera, your job must be so much easier.

You would think that a movie like this would only appeal to men but the directors and screenwriters manage to make a great point about the understanding between men and women. I think La Brassiere is definitely one of the most charming and joyful comedies to come out of Hong Kong lately!

The DVD:

The Chinastar dvd presentation is excellent. The anamorphic picture is framed at 1.78:1 and looks absolutely wonderful. The level of detail and sharpness is probably the best I've seen on a Hong Kong dvd. I didn't spot any obvious examples of edge enhancement and only a few specks and marks turned up in the beginning of the movie.

The sound on offer here is the original sync sound Cantonese track, along with the Mandarin dub (both in Dolby Digital 4.1 according to my player). The dialogue driven soundtrack is quite restrained and only really comes alive when the wonderful music kicks in. That works very well though.

The subtitles are a bit small to read at first, but you get used to that after a while. A few spelling errors sneak in on occasion but other than that it seems like a good translation of the dialogue. Also included are Chinese subtitles and, in a nice touch from Chinastar, a subtitle stream for the English and Japanese dialogue only. So good, Chinastar!

The extras are quite plenty for a Hong Kong dvd. You get the trailer for the movie itself along with trailers for Legend of Zu and Failan. Also included are cast & crew notes, character quotes, synopsis of the film (skip that next time, we know how to read the back of the dvd), a short making of (no English subtitles) and 6 deleted scenes. Only 2 of those are actual deleted scenes and 1 is an extended scene. The others are actually outtakes (which are fairly funny). Shame that were no English subtitles here either. It would have made an excellent package all round.

To sum it up I choose to quote Lau Ching Wan's character:

So good!

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson