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  • This romantic-comedy was shown at the 35th Hong Kong International Film Festival recently and the big deal among the media was that the movie was in Mandarin instead of the usual Cantonese. Obviously an attempt by the film-makers to penetrate the Mainland box-office. For viewers elsewhere, however, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" will probably be a long-drawn, meet-cute and act-cute love triangle that stretches for almost two hours.

    Thankfully, the movie somehow manages to maintain its charm (even if it looks contrived and phony) throughout the proceedings - thanks to the chemistry of the three leads.

    When the movie opens, we find Zixin (Gao Yuan-yuan) getting dumped by her boyfriend (Terence Yin) who is married. We can understand her subsequent caution with men, especially when she tries to recover from this heartbreak that makes getting rid of her past (those photos, gifts and even a pet frog) rather difficult. Helping her to turn over a new leaf is a street drunk named Fang (Daniel Wu) who is actually a disillusioned architect. Fang helps Zixin 'get rid' of her ex-beau's mini-bar collection and even take cares of her "ugly" pet frog, while she helps him get back to drawing.

    Zixin is also attracted to Cheng (Louis Koo), a fund manager who works in the building opposite her office. She watches him through the glass wall daily and they 'communicate' by sticking Post-It notes on their respective windows. Soon, Cheng, a playboy at heart, takes over the troubled company she works for - and starts wooing her in earnest. Will she forget Fang, the friend waiting in the wings, or will she keep a promised date with him? Ultimately, the big question is: who will she pick, Cheng or Fang? It takes a long long time for Zixin to decide - and the title is rather apt. Having had her heart broken, Zixin is definitely going to break the heart of one of her suitors. We are kept guessing which one. This is the most demanding role yet for Gao Yuan-yuan and it is evident that she has what it takes to be the leading lady. She makes us root for Zixin throughout the movie, even if we find her indecisiveness irritating.

    Koo and Wu are veterans in their role and they pull it off easily. However, Koo's Cheng seems rather implausible. The writers have gone overboard, having Cheng buy an apartment and a Maserati car as gifts for a girlfriend at a time when the economy (during the 2008 downturn) calls for prudence and accountability. Wu is the more pathetic of the two and his Fang even cooks! Chalk these up as the film-makers' attempts to wow the women in the audience. This chick flick makes for an entertaining date movie, though. (limchangmoh.blogspot.com)
  • Right, well Hong Kong cinema is well known for its sappy romantic comedies, right up alongside with the hardcore action movies. And being a sucker for all things Asian and Hong Kong cinema in particular, of course I jumped at the chance when I was given it to sit down and watch "Dan sun nam nui" (aka "Don't Go Breaking My Heart").

    Initially I had not even heard about the movie prior to finding it by sheer, random luck. But seeing that it had both Louis Koo and Daniel Wu on the casting list, of course I was more than intrigued, because these are definitely among the more established of actors in the more recent cinema.

    The storyline and plot in "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was fairly straight forward, even for a romantic comedy. But don't be scared off, because that doesn't mean that the movie wasn't entertaining. I happened to find the movie rather enjoyable and entertaining, to be honest.

    I am not overly familiar with Yuanyuan Gao, but I must admit that she really carried the movie quite well with her charming personality on the screen and her ability to bring lots of emotions and charisma to the movie.

    If you enjoy Hong Kong cinema and have a taste for the romantic comedies, then you definitely should take the time to watch "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" if you have the chance.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Compared with the crafty English title, the original local title "Single men and women" is more lucidly and accurately descriptive. My summary line offers another angle – watching this rom-com flick is very much akin to watching a tennis match. Using everything they know about the game, the two players take alternative service games vying for the ultimate prize, the woman of their heart's desire. With delightful twists and turns, the match culminates in a cliff-hanger of a tiebreaker.

    One thing you do not expect too much from a rom-com is unpredictability. The Jonnie TO and WAI Ka-fai veteran team-up, however, sprinkle their work as usual with unpredictability, not the kind of convoluted twists you find in a mystery thriller, but enough to keep the movie interesting. At the start it would seem that the financial tsunami of 2008 features significantly in the plot but soon it is apparent that it is only a plot element that is discarded as soon as its purpose is served. The woman meets the two suitors, separately, just as the global financial trouble is about to reach a meltdown. She soon loses contact with both of them. Three years later, when the financial world is well on its way to recovery, she meets them again. That is when the match starts in earnest. Nothing more needs to be said about the plot. Just a few words on the triangle.

    GAO Yuanyuan, playing a financial market analyst, brings with her a touch of the small-town girl simple charm from Qing Hong ("Shanghai dream", Cannes Jury Prize winner in 2005), making her otherwise rather bland character very likable. Louis KOO gets an almost customized role, by profession a financial executive, by nature a "bad guy" (the sort that invariably has a magnetic attraction for nice girls), waving his motto like a protective force field: "9 guys out of 10 are womanizer and the 10th is considering the prospects". He is certainly not "no. 10". But at least he is honest about it from day one. Playing the polar opposite ("no. 11" you might say) rival is Daniel WU, a successful architect and the perfect guy in every girl's dream. Let the game begin.

    The HKIFF program book introduces this opening film thus: "a pretty cast, clever twists, and a you-can-have-it-all brain candy". I'd buy that.
  • I have to admit there was a little bit of apprehension going into the movie because Johnnie To's recent effort Linger continues to linger in my mind as one of the worst romantic films seen in recent years. No doubt I'd prefer To's gangster flicks, but sometimes market forces and demand dictates opportunity that cannot be passed over. So with his usual Milkyway crew and regular cast such as Lam Suet, Louis Koo and Daniel Wu, To and frequent collaborator Wai Ka-Fai make another attempt at the romantic genre with this film that proves, thankfully, to be notches up from Linger.

    And perhaps one of the positives coming out from the film which aided in its enjoyment, was the fact that the language track was left unmolested here by the powers that be. It's in a smattering of Cantonese, Mandarin and some English, which in all likelihood reflects the cosmopolitan nature of Hong Kong society with its foreign base from the occasional Indian, Caucasian, and of course the influx of Chinese from Mainland China. In the past all utterance of spoken Cantonese would have been dubbed over, so this is yet again another small but successful push of the envelope in our local cinema scene.

    One of the two opening films at this year's Hong Kong Film Festival, Don't Go Breaking My Heart tells of a love triangle between three characters brought about by the indecision of the girl Zixin (Gao Yuan Yuan), who journeyed from Suzhou to Hong Kong to follow her boyfriend, find herself being dumped, and becoming the object of affection of both a drunkard bum Qihong (Daniel Wu), and a self-made finance industry CEO Shenran (Louis Koo). Her budding relationship with Qihong comes from the latter saving her from an accident while in her post- dumped, delirious state, and becoming the surrogate owner of her ex-boyfriend's frog. Qihong soon disappears for the most parts of the first hour, and here's when Shenran becomes her target. Yes, you heard that right, because the lass does what you can do in today's Internet age, and discovers he's a mighty fine catch with the kind of money in his possession.

    Set about the time of the Lehman Brothers debacle, Shenran becomes Zixin's boss, and a relationship with a subordinate is nothing to frown upon, having to fast forward their relationship through the throwing of a Masserati and a luxury condo penthouse at Zixin. Impressed, her mind's almost made up if not for the re-entry of Qihong into her life, now reborn into a new lease of life going back to the architectural profession he turned his back on, in an office located opposite Zixin's. And this is perhaps one of the brilliance of the story, with the trio able to engage in romantic shenanigans through their office windows, and this is something that is extremely plausible given the close proximity of buildings in Hong Kong that Singapore too is emulating given our scarcity of land and exorbitant office rentals.

    Is the modern relationship defined by material wealth, with no money being having no honey? It certainly seemed so in this romantic tale, where Zixin doesn't even bat an eyelid at Qihong at first given his bum like appearance and lack of prospects, and her obvious delight when discovering Shenran is an alpha-male who rock climbs and having riches beyond her wildest dreams. And even though Shenran's been proved a playboy and a cad time and again with the amount of cleavage that he can't take his eyes off from, leaving him becomes that impossibility given the opportunity costs that goes along with it. As for Qihong's, he's a little bit of a softie and a nice guy that tries really hard to get the girl, being that sentimental man hanging onto every sliver of memory from the past, taking care of a frog for companionship, and the perfecting the art of cooking mussels from a restaurant that he shared a meal with Zixin once.

    What made this film work is the chemistry amongst the trio, that while you may not like their characters, they're made believable through the actors' performances, except perhaps for parts when you know Zixin's behaviour in the real world would lead to her being fired from her job. Lending supporting star power are JJ Jia as Qihong's assistant and Shenran's temporal dating distraction, and Lam Suet (this is Milkyway after all) as the atypical office kay-poh to provide some much needed comic relief as the film propels toward the third act that relied on plenty of cheesy moments to try and wrap it all up. But being made for the Chinese market would mean toeing a very conservative development, and providing that air of affluence to target trap its intended audience - overnight roundtrip flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai, anyone?

    At least the film had the courage to resolve this messy triangle, unlike its Hollywood counterparts which would opt to keep things ambiguous or open ended just because. But having to come to a decision was a long drawn effort that bloated the runtime to close to two hours, and an abrupt ending that didn't do much justice to one of the characters, having just shown a purposeful change that made it more like an act put up instead. However this is a romantic comedy meant as a date movie, with Hong Kong providing most of the backdrops in which stories get told, though with the Milkyway brand I was half expecting some form of thuggery to appear in a shoot them up.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This story is kind of romantic fantasy comedy, the premise is really great about how 2 people fall in love from opposite building window, its really fun to watch and I enjoyed it very much. This is the first Johnnie To movie that I watch that is not an action movie. Its a romance, and he did it really well with his best friend forever Wai Ka- Fai. Many people said that this story is kind overrated because of the complex feeling of the female lead character, Gao who is kind of messy,weird and unbelievable. She have big problem with her love life because she just want a man who only looks at her, not other woman, not even a glance. That's why at some part we find that her character is so irritating, but the good thing this movie have is the fair love triangle. There is no bias here like any other cliché romance. Both man's character developed really well until we feel hard to root to any of the 2 man. It make me feel like she just need to choose both because both of them are the best. But what we can do, she can only choose one. So, just enjoy it, fun romance from Johnnie To!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Romantic comedies need to fulfill two criteria - provide some romance that the audience can lose themselves in, and to make the whole affair lighthearted enough to have a couple laughs. Don't Go Breaking My Heart does succeed in constructing a romantic triangle and a couple of laughs to go along the way, but as far as being realistic, it is not.

    Gao Yuanyuan plays Cheng Zixin, the female in the love triangle along with Louis Koo as Cheung Shen-Ran and Daniel Wu as Fang Qihong. In this world that the movie constructed, Shen-Ran is an affluent CEO of an investment company that operates in the building opposite Zixin. After noticing her on the bus, and seeing her have an incident with her horrible ex, he later tries at work to cheer her up by sticking a smiley face post it note on the window for her to see. This works, and they begin to communicate across buildings visually.

    Concurrently, after Zixin's incident on the bus, she was distraught and walked through the streets without noticing her surroundings. Just as a car was about to hit her, Qihong saves her. They part ways, with Qihong continuing to drink his alcohol. Later, Zixin sees him at the supermarket buying alcohol, and she proceeds to give him all her ex's things. After selling those things, Qihong encourages Zixin to spend the money on herself. At the end of their night, Zixin gets Qihong to promise to quit drinking and return to his architectural work.

    With this stage set, the movie progresses to develop the relation between the characters. The actors' chemistry works, and situation, while corny, do seem to work. However, it is a little too obvious which guy she should pick, so her indecision makes her a little more unlikable as the movie goes along. The fact that it appears she is seduced by money (one guy buys her a Maserati, an apartment) adds some realism to the movie, but its not what we want to see in a romantic comedy.

    There are some comedic bits, particularly with Qihong's interactions with the frog, and with Zixin's boss.

    This movie creates a world full of attractive people and money. The men in the movie act like men in the real world (lust, love, etc.) but the young females in the movie except Zixin seem to be a little whorish (easily seduced, seductively dressed).

    But, as a romantic comedy, it provides the romance and the comedy.