Review: SEE YOU TOMORROW 摆渡人 (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Review: SEE YOU TOMORROW 摆渡人 (2016)

Review: SEE YOU TOMORROW 摆渡人 (2016)

Based on a short story by Zhang Jiajia, SEE YOU TOMORROW revolves around Chen Mo (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), the owner of the titular bar and also a "ferryman" who helps people with relationship problems. But Chen Mo has a sad past of his own, particularly after his ill-fated romance with bartender He Muzi (Du Juan). His associate, Guan Chun (Takeshi Kaneshiro) has been trying hard to recover the memory of his true love Mao Mao (Sandrine Pinna). Then, there is the radio deejay Xiao Yu (Angelababy), who's been nursing a longtime crush with pop-singer idol Ma Li (Eason Chan) ever since she was a kid.



REVIEW: Although renowned Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-Wai may have been widely known as a cinematic poet of love and heartache for more than two decades, it's easy to forget he used to be a jack of all trades during his early career. Among them was the comedy genre, where he penned a number of screenplays such as JUST FOR FUN (1983), THE INTELLECTUAL TRIO (1985) and THE HAUNTED COP SHOP (1987). Not to mention he was also the producer for Jeff Lau's 1993 slapstick comedy classic THE EAGLE SHOOTING HEROES.

Now, seeing him returning to the comedy genre in SEE YOU TOMORROW does evoke a sense of nostalgia. Despite credited only as both co-screenwriter and producer, his latest effort still bears plenty of his signature filmmaking style ranging from the fragmented and episodic storytelling to the use of classic soundtrack. Watching SEE YOU TOMORROW is akin of reliving the '90s era when Wong used to swoon us over with his heavily-stylised contemporary dramas of CHUNGKING EXPRESS (1994) and FALLEN ANGELS (1995). Except that his latest effort here is more of a romantic drama laced with lots of mo lei tau (nonsensical comedy) elements. It is also nice to see some of his recurring themes like lost love and unrequited romance are well-integrated into his adapted screenplay as well.

Review: SEE YOU TOMORROW 摆渡人 (2016)

First-time director Zhang Jiajia, who also adapted his own short story here, does a good job emulating Wong's filmmaking style (or is it Wong himself actually act as a ghost director?). Whatever it is, Jiajia does prove himself as a worthy filmmaker to look for in the future. Kudos also go to the movie's nifty selection of classic songs and music from Beyond's "Loving You" to the "Mission: Impossible" theme that plays well with each scene. Peter Pau's cinematography, particularly with his lavish use of colours such as red and yellow, is equally praiseworthy.

Next is the star-studded cast themselves. After spending years playing dramatic roles in THE SILENT WAR (2012) and THE GRANDMASTER (2013), it's a refreshing change of pace to see Tony Leung Chiu-Wai let loose once in a while. Whether he tries to win the heart of a beautiful bartender He Muzi or engages in a hilarious gang fight, Leung oozes a satisfying share of romantic yet playful charisma to his likeable character as Chen Mo. Takeshi Kaneshiro, who reunites with Leung for the first time since 2008's RED CLIFF, nearly steals the show with his hilariously over-the-top performance as Guan Chun. Angelababy, who normally known more for her photogenic beauty than her acting, is surprisingly competent this time around as Xiao Yu. This is easily among her better performances to date since appearing alongside Nick Cheung and Sammi Cheng in 2014's TEMPORARY FAMILY.

Review: SEE YOU TOMORROW 摆渡人 (2016)

As for the supporting cast, Chinese model Du Juan brings a subtle touch of sophisticated elegance that reminds me of Brigitte Lin while Taiwanese-French actress Sandrine Pinna is spot-on as the tomboyish Mao Mao. The rest, including Eason Chan, Lu Han (who plays the younger version of Ma Li) and Lynn Hung (as Ma Li's former lover), all provide solid supports.

However, SEE YOU TOMORROW is not without its few flaws. Clocking at more than two hours long, the movie tends to overstay its welcome. This is especially evident during the long-winded climactic scene where Xiao Yu and Jiang Jie (Lynn Hung) challenging against each other in a series of booze-centric "Bar Golf" game over the course of a single night. The episodic plot is sometimes messy and haphazardly put together, while some of the comedy elements either tries too hard to be funny or misses the marks altogether.

SEE YOU TOMORROW may have been uneven in places, but the combination of Zhang Jiajia's playful direction and Wong Kar-Wai's above-average screenplay of love and heartache helps elevate this otherwise typical romantic comedy.

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