China movie Lost In Hong Kong is a madcap love letter to the territory

Xu Zheng (left) with wannabe film-maker Bao Bei’er.
Xu Zheng (left) with wannabe film-maker Bao Bei’er. PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

Latest in the Lost series is a love letter to Hong Kong pop culture, featuring a bra designer who has to choose between his wife and first love

REVIEW / COMEDY

LOST IN HONG KONG (NC16)

113 minutes/Opens tomorrow/ 3.5/5 STARS

The story: Xu Lai (Xu Zheng) never managed to kiss his college love Yang Yi (Du Juan). Years later, he marries another fellow student Cai Bo (Vicki Zhao Wei). Yang Yi, now a successful artist, invites him to her show in Hong Kong. He is determined to go, but first, he has to shake off Cai Bo's wannabe film-maker brother Lala (Bao Bei'er), who is equally determined to make a documentary about Xu Lai.

China's Xu Zheng saw his popu- larity rocket after the hit comedy Lost On Journey (2010). The follow-up, Lost In Thailand (2012), on which Xu took on directing duties for the first time, was an even bigger hit.

This latest instalment of the Lost series is on its way to blockbuster status as well, with an opening day of 208 million yuan (S$46.6 million).

It is a love letter to Hong Kong pop culture, from its movies to its music. The prolific crowd-pleasing director Wong Jing spoofs himself in a guest role and the script is littered with references to movies such as Days Of Being Wild (1990), Chungking Express (1994) and 2046 (2004).

Apart from letting audiences play spot-the-Wong-Kar-Wai-reference, the movie also puts viewers in the mood for Cantopop with a soundtrack which includes poignant Leslie Cheung ballads as well as Grasshopper's up-tempo Passionate Samba.

The Hong Kong urban landscape gets a shout-out in a fun scene: Xu Lai and Lala raise a ruckus in a brothel and then get chased through a quintessentially Hong Kong apartment block where varied denizens live together cheek by jowl.

The madcap humour can be a bit hit-or-miss and Lala is mostly an annoying unwanted sidekick. But Xu has viewers rooting for him as the hapless and luckless Xu Lai - a bra designer despite his youthful artistic leanings and now the butt of jokes in his wife's family.

Drama is mixed with comedy in the finale which presents a classic conundrum: Between your wife and your first love, who would you choose? The dilemma is played out on a huge pane of glass suspended high above ground and emotions run high as Xu, Cai and Yang try to maintain a precarious balance.

And how did they end up in such a situation in the first place? Well, there was a homicide which Lala had accidentally caught on tape while making his documentary and there are bad guys after that footage.

This might be a China movie, but it has the anything-goes energy of a Hong Kong flick.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'Lost and hapless in Hong Kong'. Print Edition | Subscribe