Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
‘My Lucky Star’ is the latest movie starring Zhang Ziyi, arguably one of the most recognisable female Chinese actresses in the world.
The film is heavily marketed in China as the prequel to an earlier fantasy romance comedy ‘Sophie’s Revenge’, also starring Zhang, which was a Chinese-Korean co-production that became a box-office hit back in 2009.
The plot of for this current prequel stretches the character of Sophie from a ditzy lovelorn comic writer to a fast adapting superspy going on a globetrotting adventure.
After winning a trip to Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Sophie meets the man of her dreams, David, played by pop idol Wang Lee Hom, who bears an uncanny resemblance to her comic creation.
Her vacation and life is turned upside down when she unwittingly gets entangled in a convoluted plot involving an evil arms dealer trading the “Lucky Star” diamond, which could be harnessed to become a weapon of mass destruction.
There is the obligatory explanation on why a female agent is needed in the mission to help find and retrieve the diamond, and after that, Sophie is recruited in less than five minutes to help superspy David in the quest.
They jet-set from Singapore to a house located at an unknown fishing village, a five-star exotic resort island hideout, and a grand finale showdown at The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel in Macau.
Apart from Zhang playing the same titular role, and having two best friends from the first movie to indulge in the most irrational and irritating girlie phone chats throughout the movie, there is absolutely nothing in common between the two movies.
STIFF ACTING, UNINSPIRING SCRIPT
Dennie Gordan (the first American director to helm a Chinese production) decided to turn ‘My Lucky Star’ into an action screwball caper comedy, in the same flavour as
Jackie Chan-styled movies when he was in Hollywood (anyone remembers ‘The Spy Next Door’ or ‘The Tuxedo’?).
While Chan might still draw excitement and applause from fans with his comic timing and acrobatic dexterity, Wang’s action moves and stiff acting simply could not match up.
The rest of the supporting villains hardly provide any sense of danger or mayhem beyond their one-dimensional caricatures.
Also read: Wang Lee Hom and Zhang Ziyi kiss and tell
The biggest let-down is the script which is cooked by six different writers. The story is unevenly paced, the dialogue cliche-ridden and mostly unfunny, and several setups get absolutely no payoffs.
It is a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, and probably several ideas getting lost in translation between the American and Chinese writers.
Production values are surprisingly weak, considering the amount of product placement and funding they have for this star-studded movie.
The scenes featuring Sands Skypark and Marina Bay Sands’ infinity pool were filmed with little imagination, making it look small, constricted and dull, which is a tad disappointing as we were expecting to see much more from the big screen debut of one of Singapore’s iconic landmarks.
Also see: Zhang Ziyi and Wang Lee Hom gallery
Doing double duty as co-producer of the movie, we suspect that Zhang is trying to go for a wider international appeal by tackling action adventure and comedy, but this boring and badly made movie is not going to take her far.
This miscalculation reinforces the general critical opinion that Zhang should stick to dramatic roles in non-contemporary settings.
Fortunately for her, ‘My Lucky Star’ would soon be forgiven and forgotten as the year-end awards season draws near, helping to cast the limelight back on her earlier solid performance in Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘The Grandmaster’, where she remains a strong contender for acting accolades.