Love You You
China, 2011, colour, 1.85:1, 90 mins.
Director: Ma Chucheng 马楚成 [Jingle Ma].
Fluffy but enjoyable summer beach romance, with engaging leads.
Malaysia, 12 years ago. A young Chinese girl, Xia Mi (Jiang Yiyi), on holiday with her parents, is rescued from the sea by a fisherman (Zeng Wenwei) but her parents are drowned. Beijing, the present day. Thanks to her lip-reading skills, Xia Mi (Yang Ying), who works in a lawyer’s offices, manages to get a job as an investigator for Malaysian client JK (Ye Liangcai), who wants someone to secretly unearth the business records of a rival who cheated him. The rival’s name is You Lele (Peng Yuyan), who runs Malaysian island hideaway Love You You Resort 乐悠悠沙滩旅馆, in the area where Xia Mi almost drowned. Arriving in Malaysia, Xia Mi takes an instant dislike to You Lele, who scams wealthy tourists with buccaneering tales. Claiming her money and passport were stolen at the harbour, she offers to work for free for You Lele. However, when wealthy bride-to-be Sophia (Zhou Yang) arrives from China and takes over the whole resort for her wedding to fiance Hao Chang (Zhu Yuchen), You Lele moves Xia Mi into a tent on the beach. When Xia Mi sleepwalks one night into Hao Chang’s room, and is discovered by Sophia, the latter threatens to cancel the marriage. Afraid of losing a major booking, You Lele and Xia Mi separately convince the couple to make up and stay, and the splashy wedding goes ahead as planned. Gradually, Xia Mi comes to like You Lele, and then suspects that her client JK is his rival half-brother who simply wants to get some inside information on You Lele’s business. But when You Lele finally discovers Xia Mi was hired by JK, their burgeoning romance seems to hit the rocks.
A summer beach movie that doesn’t stint on the sexual or scenic eye candy, but still bothers to come up with a twist-and-turn-ful script and very engaging performances, Love You You 夏日乐悠悠 is the most satisfying movie by Hong Kong d.p.-turned-director Ma Chucheng 马楚成 [Jingle Ma] since…well, his last beach movie, Summer Holiday 夏日的么么茶, 11 years ago (see poster, left). With a similar Chinese title, and also shot in Malaysia (on Lang Tengah island, nearby), Love can be seen as a partner movie. But it also reflects the changing times: where Holiday was a Cantonese crowdpleaser starring idols Ren Xianqi 任贤齐 [Richie Ren] and Zheng Xiuwen 郑秀文 [Sammi Cheng], Love is a Mandarin rom-com with Shanghai-born model-actress Yang Ying 杨颖 [Angelababy] and Taiwan pin-up Peng Yuyan 彭于晏 [Eddie Peng], two supporting actors from China, and produced by Beijing-based DMG Entertainment.
Ma, who turned director a decade or so ago with up (Fly Me to Polaris 星愿, 1999; Tokyo Raiders 东京攻略, 2000) and down (Butterfly Lovers 武侠梁祝, 2008; Mulan 花木兰, 2009) results, seems to hit his stride here with his lead actors. In her first starring role after some characterful supports (the country girl in Hot Summer Days 全城热恋 热辣辣, 2010; the starlet sister in Love in Space 全球热恋, 2011), Yang, 22, finally establishes herself in a more natural part, showing some of the looks and charm of Malaysian-born actress Li Xinjie 林心洁 [Angelica Lee] at the start of her career. Peng, 29, whose naturalness has always been hobbled by his looks, is an equal delight in an easygoing, beach-bum role that finally manages to combine the two.
The plot is no more than a will-they/won’t-they, odd-couple rom-com; but in the second half builds involving chemistry between the two leads, springs some neat twists, and follows through with a finale that’s genuinely involving in its fluffy way. Production credits, with a hummable song and music by Singapore’s Lin Junjie 林俊杰, are smooth, though the film’s summery colours look disappointingly thin in digital copies. The English title is a play on the name of the beach resort, which in turn is an elaborate play on the name of Peng’s character.
Presented by DMG Entertainment (CN).
Script: Ma Chucheng [Jingle Ma], Wang Jinqi. Photography: Ma Chucheng [Jingle Ma]. Editing: Kuang Zhiliang. Music: Lin Junjie. Art direction: Zhang Yinghua. Costume design: Huang Jiabao [Stephanie Wong]. Styling advice: Yu Jia’an [Bruce Yu]. Sound: Chen Zhijian.
Cast: Yang Ying [Angelababy] (Xia Mi), Peng Yuyan [Eddie Peng] (You Lele), Zhu Yuchen (Hao Chang), Zhou Yang (Sophia), He Jie (Guagua), Wang Jun (Wuguji/Chicken), Ye Liangcai (Jiekai/JK, Youyou’s half-brother), Qiu Wenbo (agent), Weng Kate (Gao, lawyer), Zeng Wenwei (fisherman), Huang Yuanze (young You Lele).
Release: China, 30 Sep 2011.
(Review originally published on Film Business Asia, 12 Nov 2011.)