Review: WHAT WOMEN WANT 我知女人心 (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Review: WHAT WOMEN WANT 我知女人心 (2011)


RATING: 2.5/5

Back in 2000, Mel Gibson hits jackpot with the $182 million box-office hit, WHAT WOMEN WANT. Blessed with an irresistible high-concept premise (a man who possesses ability to hear woman's inner thoughts) and two charming leads (Gibson and Helen Hunt), this Nancy Meyers-directed romantic comedy was reasonably entertaining if not awfully overlong and predictable.


Eleven years later, here comes the highly-anticipated Pan-Chinese remake of that Hollywood hit. Bearing the same name-title and same premise but different location (Chicago to Beijing), writer-producer-director Chen Daming's version is pretty much the same Hollywood template has done before. Like the original as well, this movie relies heavily on the two charming leads (Andy Lau and Gong Li) to carry off the weight while everything else is more than less a hit-and-miss affair because any sense of refreshing originality here is totally out of question.

The story centers on an arrogant executive Sun Zigong (Andy Lau), a self-confessed ladies' man who thinks he is well-loved by women everywhere. He always his ways to get any pretty women he desires of, and his career in the ad agency he's been working for has been continuously fruitful. However, his big ego is about to take a hard fall when his boss, Dong (Chengru Li) brings in a new executive creative director, a post that Zigong wants it badly all along, to help boost the ever-changing advertising industry. That newcomer turns out to be Li Yilong (Gong Li), the same woman Zigong has unsuccessfully attempts to flirt her in the first place before their unexpected official meeting. Naturally both of them hardly get along since Zigong have to go through his new superior-in-charge Yilong. But thing takes an unexpected turn when a bizarre freak accident in the bathtub enables Zigong to hear woman's inner thoughts the next day. At first, he thought it's a curse and feels annoyed but gradually, he accepts his newfound gift as an ultimate weapon to gain an upper hand against his rival, Yilong.

As lazy and awfully pedestrian as it goes, Chen Daming makes little effort to improve upon the incoherent original and just about everything about this Chinese-language remake is essentially Hollywood-centric. The plot, clocking at two-hour length, is as unnecessarily overlong as the original itself with too many subplots cramming one after another (among them are stories involving Zigong's aging father and his rebellious teenage daughter) which occasionally drags the movie's momentum.

But thanks to the two leads, the movie remains a fairly good time-waster. Looking suave and aged well at 49, Andy Lau is at constant ease playing romantic lead, though he is somewhat awkward when channeling his goofy side (particularly when he cross-dressed to get in touch with his feminine side). Gong Li, on the other side, is the most refreshing aspect in this movie -- in term of casting, of course. Known more for her dramatic roles in the past, it's particularly interesting to see the lighter side of her as well as seeing her in a rare modernized role. At the age of 45, Li is as radiant as ever and despite lacking of experience in this genre, she manages to carry her role effortlessly. No doubt both of them possesses the right chemistry together.

Another appealing aspect about this movie is its irresistible choice of location. Making good use of the cosmopolitan look of the modern Beijing's central business district, the movie is perfectly blessed with glamorous art direction by Zhouyi Li while Yikai Li's fashionably chic costume design is simply a visual feast.

Overall, WHAT WOMEN WANT is strictly a no-brainer Chinese blockbuster designed as a passable star vehicle for Lau and Li.

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