Donnie Yen in a comedy? I suppose the filmmakers here managed to convince him that he has what it takes to make everyone laugh out loud, but at the expected expense of Yen being a parody of his famed Ip Man character in the various inevitable cheeky spoofs that poke fun at Wong Kar-wai's upcoming effort, cutting the same silhouetted figure and pose like the released teaser poster to hammer the point in. Joining the franchise is also Lynn Hung who plays an uptight rich bitch, and Ip Man producer Raymond Wong continuing the franchise here as a fugly rich businessman who just cannot please his girlfriend Dream Dream (Yan Ni).
So has the sixth installment of the All's Well End's Well franchise finally showed that it is lacking stamina to continue the series? After all there's essentially not much of a story, try as both Chan Hing-Ka, who co-directs the film with Janet Chun, and Edmond Wong to try and flog a dead horse. The success of the earlier films had, well, Stephen Chow, and more mo-lei-tau jokes, and the latter films try really hard to seem more intellectual, and hoped that the throwing in of more stars with bit roles could help to usher in the crowds. After all, the film has to end with mass weddings as part of its formula, so you'll just about know how things will have to be engineered.
As mentioned, there's Raymond Wong's oil tycoon Ken who amuses his girlfriend Dream with buying her a Mainland Chinese cosmetics company Beauty, and being clueless about running her new company, she employs Sammy (Louis Koo), a famous make up artist whose effeminate nature is nothing but an elaborate ploy to get close to girls, and in Beauty, a firm where he's the only male employee, needless to say it's heaven though it doesn't go beyond bust jokes. Assisting him is Cecelia Cheung in a comeback role as Claire, a girl with low esteem being wooed by billionaire Syd (Chapman To), who got attracted to Claire because of her low-maintenance ways, and her obvious non gold digging nature. Rounding up the cast are Donnie Yen as Ron, Sammy's old make up school classmate who's uprooted by Sammy from the neighbourhood cosmetic counter to the big league, and Carina Lau as a failed writer who is the object of Yen's affection and obsession.
Characters are cardboard thin as far as comedies go, and here they are merely caricatures with little development, all primed for a few set comedic scenes. Those that fall flat are the ones involving Donnie Yen and Carina Lau, since they involve really needless and uninteresting cosplay/daydreaming sequences. Yen shows he's totally miscast in this genre, and frankly should stick to action flicks. Carina Lau seemed to be in a role that's really disjointed and disconnected with the rest of the cast, so in all her scenes really stuck out like a sore thumb. Those involving Chapman To were no better since they were more like Cyrano de Bergerac, where Louis Koo's Sammy becomes Bergerac in helping To's rich man woo who his assistant, whom we all know he will develop the hots for eventually since she's the only non-artificial person in an environment full of hypocrisy. And what's with the point of cross dressing anyhow?
But thankfully there were scenes that worked to bring on the laughs, and if anyone needs a reason to sit through this, there are two scenes which stood out, involving a mahjong scene with the inclusion of Ronald Cheng, and that involving Sammy and Ron visiting the latter's family, which evokes the mantra of how messages get so easily misconstrued, followed by side splitting analogies involving straws. If not for these episodes, the film goes through plenty of low points as it found itself stuck in a relentless need to firm up an adequate storyline joining all of its parts together. It didn't work, and you'll probably find more joy with individual, stand-alone segments as mentioned.
Will there be another All's Well Ends Well? I shudder to think that there will be one in 2012. The formula is pretty dead, and hopefully we either get to see fresh ideas being injected, or a boost to the cast with more natural comedians roped in, or do what like the other Hong Kong Lunar New Year film did, by gunning for something a little bit different, though still keeping to its flood-the-film-with-an-incredible-ensemble concept. Sandra Ng had jumped ship, and it's no rocket science required to see just why.