Drink Drank Drunk (千杯不醉)

If we’re going to compare this movie to a brew, San Miguel would be a good choice, and it might help if you had a few cans with you. Like the ubiquitous San Mig (at least in Hong Kong), this cheap and accessible effort gets the job done when more refined options aren’t available. The crowd-pleasing duo of Miriam Yeung and Daniel Wu tries to recreate the chemistry that made the first Love Undercover such a hit. Yeung is Siu-Man, a beer girl with a heart of gold – and the handy ability to never get inebriated; the Chinese title translates to “not drunk after 1000 glasses.” This earns her the respect and affections of one Brother 9 (in a slightly sleazy but still loveable turn by Alex Fong). One night, she happens upon Michel (Daniel Wu masquerading as a French Chinese), who is drunk beyond repair. As it happens, he is also a gorgeous chef with zero business acumen. Luckily, Siu-Man is there to provide him a place to stay and to save his restaurant, all on a beer girl’s salary.

Her willingness to help him out and his talent for baking delicious pretzels quickly leads to romance. Michel, however, is not keen on settling down, and the partnership is complicated by slow business and the fact that Siu-Man is now Michel’s landlord and investor. His self-doubts intensify when free-wheeling buddy Long (Terence Yin playing his usual character) crashes into the scene and chastises him for being too domestic. This prompts Siu-Man to hold on tighter to her man, just what a frustrated Michel does not need. The moment is ripe for another woman to enter the picture, and she comes in the form of slinky, cigar chomping restaurateur Zhao Jie (Hu Jing). Miss Zhao tries to poach Michel for her own chain of posh eateries and dangles a fat paycheck, and herself, in front of him.

Does he bite or does the local girl triumph? At least the question is made more relevant by developments in the second half of the movie, which teases out some of the mundane pressures of a relationship not often portrayed in Hong Kong film. Despite this, the characters are not captivating enough to power the point through, and instead I found myself drawn to some unexplored elements. A critique of Hong Kong food culture, Mainland investment in the city, upscale eateries, or even beer girls would have made more interesting pictures.

So those seeking a probing romance or especially Love Undercover revamped, will be disappointed. For one, Drink Drank Drunk relies primarily on the charm of its two leads. This film has neither the characters nor chemistry to elevate them, apart from an over-the-top Alex Fong in a role usually reserved for Eric Kot. This movie also discards the tidy romantic simplicity of Love Undercover and lacks the novelty of a goofy Miss Yeung. Still, if you need your dose of Miriam and Daniel, you will probably appreciate the effort.

Released: 2005/Reviewed: 2011

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