Love in the Buff

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am


Starring: Shawn Yue Man-lok, Miriam Yeung Chin-wah, Mini Yang Mi, Xu Zheng
Director: Pang Ho-cheung
Category: IIB (Cantonese and Putonghua)

We don't need great movies right now, just good movies with a Hong Kong flavour. Thanks to Pang Ho-cheung, we now have Love in the Buff, a smutty but hilarious romantic comedy that is exactly what audiences now demand.

A sequel to 2010's Love in a Puff, the film begins with the charming couple Jimmy (Shawn Yue Man-lok) and Cherie (Miriam Yeung Chin-wah, above, with Yue) falling apart after spending nine months together.

Both decide to venture north in search for better career opportunities but end up finding greener pastures relationship-wise.

While Jimmy beds a gorgeous flight attendant (Mini Yang Mi), Cherie is courted by a divorced entrepreneur (Xu Zheng). Yet the pair can't let go of the past. When they bump into each other in Beijing, old wounds are reopened and old flames reignited.

Pang is never a sentimentalist. Characters in Buff see love as a human need that can readily make way for careers and lifestyles. Jimmy and Cherie don't even follow the erotic formula that drives most love stories.

There are no passionate exchanges or slushy kisses but just a quick cut from a casual meeting to the couple buttoning up their clothes after making love. To Pang, even a post-coital hug is too emotional.

Yet Pang, despite verging too close to cynicism and misogyny for comfort, is never less than fun, and with Buff he is at his best in turning his signature profanities into an art form. The lines are a snappy concoction of smutty Cantonese that glides and stings.

There is also something wholly Hong Kong about the characters Pang constructs: kidults who refuse to grow up, who genuinely like microwave spaghetti, who cheat on their partner because they want to be honest with themselves - such self-centredness is no doubt a Hong Kong specialty. No wonder we continually overlook the shortcomings of Jimmy and Cherie, whose playful charm resonates with our tendency to put the lid on anything serious, such as love.

The music video end-credits sequence creates a cheery mood, but don't mistake Buff for a happy romance. The ending recommends love, but it is love devoid of conviction. Buff may be the saddest love story of our generation.

Love in the Buff opens today