This is a Hong Kong romantic comedy, screened during Chinese New Year, starring two mega pop stars, one of whom speaks dodgy Cantonese. If your expectations aren’t progressively lowered, you’re not playing by the rules. Expect award winning fare during the holidays and you’ll be disappointed. But if you hit on a film that features beautiful, famous people, that makes you laugh for the better part of 90 minutes, and that gives you respite from nagging relatives, it’s mission accomplished. Time for your next round of feasting.
This self-consciously silly movie hooked me into Hong Kong pop cinema (feel free to judge); a cousin thought she’d give me a taste of local culture when I had first arrived. The storytelling is a little sloppy, even at its best moments, but Marry a Rich Man is a breezy mix of fantasy and romance lifted by two likable leads who find themselves in a pitiable situation.
Mi (Sammi Cheng) is a single twentysomething in pursuit of what many single twentysomethings in Hong Kong are apparently in pursuit of – a wealthy husband. The odds, however, are not in her favor. The closest she gets to the monied elite is when she delivers gas, by bike, to their mansions. By chance, she runs into her former classmates, all of whom have married up. Their lives of leisure and multi-carat jewels leave Mi feeling a tad inadequate. This is compounded by her father (Wu Fung), that nurturing paternal type who reasons that “a rich man might not be good, but a poor man is definitely not good.”
By most assessments, Mi is not in want of anything. She lives in the idyllic Harmony Village which boasts some prime real estate. It’s also populated with charming personalities, all of whom adore her. Her lesbian best friend MT (Candy Lo) really adores her. That’s not enough in Hong Kong though, or at least in Mi’s Hong Kong. She’s in luck when a plea to the heavens sends a mysterious capsule blazing down from the sky. Inside she finds just what she’s been waiting for, well, not a rich man but the next best thing – a woman’s guide to marrying a rich man.
It comes from Destiny International, a matchmaking company hovering high in the heavens. Like Santa’s elves, they furiously track down lonely singles and send them how-to manuals. These puppetmasters contrive to bring happiness, or at least wads of cash, into the lives of ordinary folks like Mi.
The plan seems to work when she runs into Christmas (Richie Ren), who is the made-to-order rich man she’s been looking for. Cheng and Ren share great chemistry, evidenced in their previous pairing in Summer Holiday, and they give their characters a giddy spring as they tromp through the cobbled streets of Italy. Cheng is in her element as the eager girl next door who’s finally gotten her break while Ren gamely plays it smooth, his stuttered Cantonese giving his character added charm. However, a misunderstanding soon sends Mi and Christmas back to Hong Kong and in a funk.
The film is best when the two are together, and it loses some steam in the latter third when the jokes slow down and the leads infect everyone with their foul moods. Jan Lamb rescues the movie on several occasions though as Mi’s awkward but extremely wealthy suitor, Wilson, a character that is really just an excuse for Lamb’s spot-on impression of Hong Kong magnate Richard Li. Its nice message about the real worth of true love gets scuppered in the closing scenes, but by then, you might be too high on holiday cheer or too busy spending your red packet money to notice.
“玻璃鞋” (“Glass Slippers”) – theme song by Sammi Cheng
“我是有錢人” (“I’m a Rich Man”) – by Richie Ren
Prod: Vincent Kok 谷德昭
Dir: Vincent Kok 谷德昭
Writer: Vincent Kok 谷德昭; Chan Po-Chun 陳寶駿; Wai Chi-Ho 韋志豪
Cast: Sammi Cheng 鄭秀文; Richie Ren 任賢齊; Bowie Wu Fung 胡楓; Jan Lamb 林海峰; Candy Lo 盧巧音; Angela Tong 湯盈盈; Ken Wong 王合喜; Mark Lui 雷頌德i; Vincent Kok 谷德昭; Tenky Tin 田啟文; Cheung Tat-Ming 張達明; Peter So 蘇民峰
Time: 93 min