Don’t Go Breaking My Heart / 单身男女 / Dān Shēn Nán Nǚ / Daan1 San1 Naam4 Neoi2 (2011)
Director: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai
Screenplay: Wai Ka-Fai, Yau Nai-Hoi, Ray Chan, Jevons Au
Cast: Louis Koo, Gao Yuanyuan, Daniel Wu, Lam Suet
I initially had no interest in seeing this romantic comedy until I saw Johnny To’s name as the director. He directed the classic HK romcom “Needing You” which I liked quite a bit. One look at the poster and you know there’s a love triangle and anyone familiar with the actors will know that it’s a solid star cast. Indeed the movie wastes no time in getting these strangers acquainted with each other via all too convenient but perhaps necessary coincidences of the genre. Oh and a frog actually plays an important role in the movie.
Chi Yan (Gao Yuan Yuan) has two suitors with executive playboy-type Sean (Louis Koo) and architect turned bum turned architect again Kevin (Daniel Wu) who wears an Avalanche hockey jersey despite claiming to be from Canada. Sean speaks Cantonese while Chi Yan and Kevin speak Mandarin but as is the case with these Hong Kong, mainland China co-productions, everyone understands each other perfectly despite the difference in dialects.
My main criticism of the story is that the feelings of love seem unearned as these characters go very fast from simply liking each other to possible marriage. On the other hand I can’t deny the chemistry between the actors who despite their rather thinly written characters are easy to root for. The movie can be pretty funny and much of that has to do with the characters’ playful reactions to each other, especially Louis Koo’s character. Daniel Wu has the harder job of making his nice guy character interesting. He does a good job of portraying that super capable, dedicated guy who can do almost anything and therefore cannot possibly exist in real life. While Gao Yuanyuan is predictably lovable, her character comes off as kind of boring compared to her male co-stars. The one strong point of this story is that you really don’t know who Chi Yan will pick until near the end unlike most romcoms where the “right one” is made blatantly obvious from the start.
This romantic comedy is hardly realistic (the grand gestures of each suitor are totally ridiculous) but for those seeking out a fairy tale with modern dressings and some good laughs, this will fit the bill. In the end this is your typical romantic comedy without much to say about anything but the well-worn material is elevated by the talent.