The Perfect Match
China, 2010, colour, 16:9, 94 mins.
Director: Cheng Long 程珑.
Patchy Mainland rom-com largely kept afloat by Hong Konger Chen Xiaodong as the playboy.
Beijing, the present day. Compulsive womaniser Liang Ye (Chen Xiaodong), a salesman at Interaction Technology, finally meets his perfect woman: Li Yue (Wu Peici), who also happens to become his personal assistant. At the same time, however, he also meets 30-something Caiyun (Meng Guangmei), head of a company, Stormrock, with which IT is bidding for a large project with United Communications. The cultured Caiyun, who spent time in Europe but lost her French boyfriend (Tyler) four years ago in a car accident, appears to enjoy Liang Ye’s company beyond their business partnership – which causes all sorts of problems for his sincere relationship with Li Yue. Liang Ye’s best friend, fellow womaniser Mo (Xu Xiaoli), also has romantic misunderstandings with his longtime girlfriend Ling Ting (Gu Liya).
The Perfect Match 终极匹配 falls somewhere between the slick accomplishment of Go Lala Go! 杜拉拉升职记 (2010) and the embarrassing misfire of You Deserve to Be Single 活该你单身 (2010) among recent examples of China’s continuing flirtation with urban romantic comedies. Adapted from a 2007 internet novel (Love Pass by Guangzhou 爱情路过广州 by Liang Xiaowuchai 梁小无拆 & JD) whose setting has been transferred to Beijing, with much detail lost between book and screen, it’s not quite glossy or smooth enough to hit its target the whole time but does have its moments thanks to the main performers. First-time director Cheng Long 程珑, who studied film in the US in the 1990s, and subsequently edited three films for Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers 十面埋伏, 2004; Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles 千里走单骑, 2005; Curse of the Golden Flower 满城尽带黄金甲, 2006), just doesn’t build enough sustained comic rhythm throughout the movie, which would also have been helped by a stronger score.
As the lead lothario, however, Hong Kong actor/singer Chen Xiaodong 陈晓东 convincingly plays a Mainlander and has enough charisma as the boyish charmer to carry the picture. He’s nicely matched by Taiwan model/actress Wu Peici 吴佩慈 (so good as the office pal in Go Lala Go!) as his offbeat ideal woman. Xu Xiaoli 徐啸力, as the best friend, turns a supporting role into one that chimes well with Chen’s, and Taiwan model/actress Meng Guangmei 孟广美 (Beijing-set, US drama Red Corner, 1997), the veteran of the bunch, is a good fit in the ambiguous role of the company executive who has a fine taste in men and French wines. Ye Daying 叶大鹰, who directed Xu in Red Cherry 红樱桃 (1995) and Tian An Men 天安门 (2009), turns up with director Cheng himself in a couple of scenes as a new company chairman. With a more finely honed script, The Perfect Match could have been a fluffy winner.
Presented by Beijing Minkasoar Films & Media (CN), Beijing Feeling Films & Media (CN). Produced by Beijing Minkasoar Film Production (CN).
Script: Cheng Long, Zheng Yan, Liang Xiaowuchai. Internet novel: Liang Xiaowuchai & JD. Photography: Michael S. Ojeda. Editing: Cheng Long. Music: Wang Kun. Art direction: Li Changqing. Styling: Xiang Haori. Sound: Ge Hui. Visual effects: Zhang Fan, Lu Junzhi (LO-FI Anima Studio). Executive director: Yao Yu.
Cast: Chen Xiaodong (Liang Ye/Zhuai), Xu Xiaoli (Mo), Wu Peici (Li Yue), Meng Guangmei (Caiyun/Yvonne), Gu Liya (Ling Ting), Lian Jin (James), Ye Daying (Zhang), Dong Lifan (fat lady), Chen Zidu (Tian Xingjian), Tyler (Caiyun’s late boyfriend), Cheng Long (Liu Liang).
Release: China, 14 May 2010.
(Review originally published on Film Business Asia, 13 Jul 2010.)