You know the expression "more than the sum of its parts". Every now and then you see a film that's so good you don't understand why. Looking at all the elements separately, story... actors... directing... each possesses qualities, but when you put them together some kind of magic happens and the final product is better that each element was by itself. It is in fact "more than the sum of its parts".
Sadly this cannot be said for "Looking for Mr. perfect". Quite the opposite actually. You have a solid director, a talented cast, and a funny - but simple - premise. But when you add them up, you're left with... nothing.
The film has zero momentum. No sense of purpose, no sense of urgency, and no sense of danger.
The basic premise is set up pretty quickly. "Grace is looking for a guy", but from there on the film fails to set up a single moment according to "proper" screenwriting. The problem here is focus. The film doesn't have any. Once the story is set up everything else should act as obstacles on Grace's path to her one true love. But the film actually seems bored with the central story, and soon all the extra stuff and all the subplots end up taking centre stage. In several scenes Grace it just sitting around watching her friend and the photoshoot with nothing to do! Okay, screenwriting 101: If you call your film "Looking for Mr. Perfect", the least you can do, is actually have the main character out there looking for Mr. Perfect.
Shu Qi is very cute but - and I hesitate to say this - she has absolutely nothing to do. The part could have been played by a piece of wood. Actually she has SO little to do that for a while, Grace is simply reduced to a background character. And more often than not you have the feeling that you are watching behind the scenes footage of Shu Qi and her friends, waiting for next shot to be ready. And another odd thing: The film fails to use the fact that Grace is a cop for anything - for all we know she could be a waitress. Shu Qi can easily play tough undercover cops, but the film won't let her.
Simon Yam is always ready with en eccentric bad guy performance, but this one is way too eccentric! Yam dresses in a pink suit, acts gayer than gay and breaks into dancing every chance he gets, not exactly the most menacing character you can imagine. In fact he's SO over the top that in one scene, when his gun runs dry, he whips out - wait for it - a BAZOOKA! Yes of course! The weapon of choice for a gangster on the move.
Andy On is not bad. He seems very relaxed, and more than capable in terms of action. He was much criticised for his role in "Black Mask II" (which I haven't seen), but here he shows plenty of potential, though he too is a victim of an underwritten part.
Lam Suet stars as Mr Chan, Joey's agent. He also acts gay, but he is still very interested in "getting with" Joey. That is, until his wife arrives.
The rest of the characters stumble about, with even less purpose than the film.
And what's the deal with this film and gays? The photographer that Joey works with is also gay, and when she falls for a guy she meets on the set, she later finds out that he's also gay! Is Ringo Lam trying to tell us something or am I just nuts?
With only a couple of fight scenes and two chase scenes, one would hardly consider this an action movie. Still, with a director like Ringo Lam, expectation are high anyway. The climactic fight scene between Andy On and Simon Yam is quite inventive and has a definite Jackie Chan feel, it's far better than anything else in the film.
Also an earlier high speed chase on Jet Skis, is quite enjoyable. But it's too little to satisfy hardcore actionfans, they will most likely be asleep before they get to the first actionscene.
I just can't wrap my head around the fact that this is a Ringo Lam film. Where are the big shootouts? Where are the brooding cops? Why is everything so damn shiny and colorful!? Give me a Jean Claude Van Damme film any day, at least there I know what I'm in for.
Okay I'll admit that I laughed a few times. The plain silliness of the whole thing eventually got to me, and I just couldn't help it. Which just goes to show that there IS some potential in the story. Too bad most of it is wasted.
The only reason I saw this film is because of Shu Qi, and with that in mind I was hugely disappointed. I know she can do better! Why go for second rate scripts like this? Stop looking for Mr. Perfect.... look for a perfect script instead.