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Original Title:
Goo laam gwa lui

Hong Kong 2000

Romance, Comedy

Johnnie To
Wai Ka-Fai

Andy Lau
Sammi Cheng
Fiona Leung
Raymond Wong
Lam Suet
Hui Siu-Hung
Florence Kwok

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Needing You

Story: Andy (Andy Lau) ist the top sales manager of a successful company. Among his subordinates he is known as a notorious womanizer and has to deal with the daily gossip of his employees. However, he also has the necessary integrity and authority to set boundaries for for his subordinates.
One of his new employees is the somewhat odd Kinky (Sammi Cheng), who soon clashes with er new boss, as Andy dislikes her working morale. However, Kinky is just a little bit muddleheaded and angry, because her boyfriend is cheating on her.
After a few days, Andy and Kinky have to find out that they actually get along with each other quite well. Andy even helps with words and deeds concerning her boyfriend. But this is also when an old friend of Andy, Fiona (Fiona Leung), enters his life again and throws herself at him. Before Andy realizes what his feelings for Kinky are like, Fiona already guesses them and thus gets internet-mogul Roger (Raymond Wong) as a new boyfriend for Kinky. This is just when Andy gets jealous of Roger and finally understands his feelings for Kinky. But isn't it too late for a Happy End, already?

Review: Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai prove with their second corporate film, that they maybe have to do some commercial flicks every now and then in order to get the money to produce their more inventive works, but that this doesn't necessarily mean that they can't create an entertaining and nice movie while doing so. The story of "Needing You" almost sounds like the essence of cheap romance fluff, but it is the script's little details, the singularities of the characters and the at times unconventional direction, that breathes an extraordinary life into the movie. With a fast pacing, a charming cast and scenes, that are just radiating funny happy-life atmosphere, "Needing You" manages to even convince those who are reluctant to watch romantic flicks.

The workplace of the two main protagonists looks familiar and there are many stereotypes made fun of, especially when it comes to the employees. But what the audience might be expecting to happen next is always cut off by sudden bursts of humor and hilarious scenes. The way rumors spread at the company is always good for a laugh, especially when Andy himself gets a call by accident and has to find out what his subordinates are thinking of him. The light-hearted and joyful atmosphere is apparent the whole film through, and many of the jokes just hit the right mark, because the setting of the bureau feels so familiar.
Of course, when it comes to the humour, the filmmakers aren't really doing their stuff in a subtle manner. Nonetheless, one of the funniest scenes is the one at a restaurant, where Andy is about to eat his bull penis meal while Kinky is sitting next to him with one hell of a hilariously disgusted-looking face. It's gross and disgusting, but it's fun to watch.

What's making this movie spin is its likeable characters, who aren't really multilayered individuals, yet seem amazingly genuine. Andy Lau convinces as a serious businessman, who also has a weakness for woman and knows how to handle them, yet contrary to the believes of his subordinates, doesn't just take advantage of them. He may be a little bit firm at times, but on the other hand his heart is at the right place and he can be really affectionate, too, so that it is easy for the audience to sympathize with him.
Sammi Cheng, a well-known Canto-Popstar, had her breakthrough role in this movie, even if she already participated in a few other movies before. Cheng manages to be shy and sexy at the same time. She isn't your typical wallflower, but has a mind of her own. Her peculiarities, e.g. her obsession with cleaning when she is frustrated or lovesick, and the fact that she is a bit odd and narrow-minded, make her a colourful individual. Sammi is just the right one for this role and so the relationship between Kinky and Andy unfolds in a fluent and fitting manner, the way it is supposed to be in a good romance. The chemistry between the two is about 100 percent as it has to be.

We get to see Hong Kong from its best side, the camera movements are pretty inventive and in its frenzy very appealing and refreshing, too. The movie's pacing is always at full speed and it never gets boring. Nevertheless, the first half is a lot more humorous, which doesn't mean that there is nothing to laugh about later on. It's just that the pacing drags a bit, if only a little, when the love story gets into the movie's focus. However, there isn't anything to criticize when it comes to the more romantic scenes as they are presented with a wink, and therefore avoid any unnecessary cheesiness. Still, what's annoying is that some scenes seem somewhat overdrawn and cheap, mainly because of an overdone joyful music score. Apart from that the movie scores with some entertaining acting and can do without any bad dialogues or similar weak spots typical for such flicks.

It's really welcome that a lot of cheesy movies of the same kind are made fun of by "Needing You". There are also a few side blows at Hong Kong's culture including good-luck charms etc. Moreover, there are some allusions to "A Moment of Romance", a romantic drama with Andy Lau. There are a lot of jokes that you will miss if you haven't watched that movie.

Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai succeed in getting the best out of this commercial romantic comedy. That's also thanks to a charming cast. Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng really make for a great couple. It's no wonder that "Needing You" was the surprise box office hit in 2000. In fact, until now this film is the best I've seen out of Hong Kong when talking about romantic comedies. Because of its piquant humor, a clever script and some really nice ideas that have found their way into the film, "Needing You" missed to get a better rating just by inches. Unfortunately, the sometimes bad soundtrack and a few little pacing problems toward the end, make "only" for a "very good" rating. Anyway, you've got to watch this movie if you don't hate the genre, as it surely is entertaining!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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