Starring: Gigi Leung Wing-kei, Fiona Sit Hoi-kei, George Lam Chi-cheung
Director: Barbara Wong Chun-chun
Category: IIA (Cantonese)
The apolitical nature of Hong Kong movie scenarios is both a bane and a blessing. The downside is the major issues confronting us during the decades preceding and following the handover have rarely been dealt with in a meaningful manner. The upside is the lack of the kind of PC propaganda that is a centrepiece of Wonder Women. Not only ideologically facile, the feature falls short of presenting riveting character studies of its heroines and their experiences during the past 10 years.
The original story by Leung Fung-yee might have held promise, but when transferred to script the tale of businesswoman Joy Shing (Gigi Leung, right) is a mawkish melodrama loaded with product placements and political shoe-shining.
An executive in a big corporation, Joy is ostensibly a superwoman adept at juggling a flourishing career and, on the home front, a doting husband (George Lam) and infant son. But despite the feminist trappings, Joy is an embodiment of Confucian ideals, submitting to the will of the men in her life, whether raped by her spouse, unjustly terminated by a chief executive (Nie Yuan), or cheated out of millions by a trusted neighbour (Hui Siu-hung). It's simply not in Joy's nature to fight back, preferring to move ahead rather than dwell on the past. But since she seems to have learned little from what has passed, her ultimate triumph comes across as less than plausible.
Joy's partner in adversity is her young, trustworthy assistant, Hiu-tung (Fiona Sit), whose loyalty comes into question when wooed by a handsome but no-good stylist (Jimmy Fu Siu-ming). Hiu-tung's fashion makeover is one of the film's more amusing passages, despite (or perhaps due to) its having little to do with the main theme.
The plot is rife with clumsy coincidences. Whether in the locker room, real estate office or second-hand luxury goods store, Joy and her pals frequently overhear revelatory tidbits that impact on their lives. Such convenient devices only serve to highlight the artifice of it all. Romantic relationships are on the level of adolescent flirtations, with the 'wonder women' being objects of unrequited crushes that last for years.
The movie is punctuated by historical clips and references deemed politically innocuous, from downturns such as the economic crisis (blamed entirely on George Soros) and Sars, to 'high points' such as the opening of Disneyland, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei's visit, and Donald Tsang's 'election'. Little wonder Wonder Women is the only officially sanctioned film to celebrate the handover's 10th anniversary with a premiere at Beijing's Great Hall of the People. Whether the people of Hong Kong will flock to the box office is another matter.
Wonder Women opens today