Kung Fu Hip-Hop 2
China/Hong Kong, 2010, colour, 1.85:1, 89 mins.
Director: Liu Baoxian 刘宝贤 [Bowie Lau].
Weak follow-up to the 2008 original, with plenty of dancing but not much else.
Qingdao, Shandong province, China, the present day. Letian (Chen Bolin), leader of hip-hop dance group Encore, meets rich kid Mianmian (Zhou Qiqi) when she enrols at a dance studio where he teaches. Mianmian’s Latin dance partner-cum-fiance Ranqiu (Xie Tianhua) has asked her to take hip-hop lessons to expand her style so they can make a splash at a forthcoming competition in the US. Things don’t go well at the start between the easygoing Letian and snooty Mianmian, and meanwhile Encore loses one of its key dancers, Wang Zi (Wang Zi), when he signs a management contract with local dance-club owner Ye (Ma Jing) in order to pay his mother’s medical bills. Between romancing Mianmian, Letian has to prove that Encore still has the goods.
The plot isn’t allowed to get in the way of the dance sequences in Kung Fu Hip-Hop 2 精舞门2 – which is just as well, as there’s precious little of it, apart from an on-off romance between the two leads (Taiwan’s Chen Bolin 陈柏霖 and China’s Zhou Qiqi 周奇奇) that basically repeats their pairing in 2009’s rom-com My Airhostess Roommate 恋爱前规则. The film is a much more packaged youth movie, and though the dancing is fine – even including South Korean group Gamblers Crew, who get roundly beaten in the opening – Lollipop boyband member Wang Zi 王子 doesn’t have much to do, so the film largely depends on the scruffy charm of Chen, which is considerable but not enough to carry a whole movie.
Hong Kong’s Liu Baoxian 刘宝贤 [Bowie Lau] (Electrical Girl 发电俏娇娃, 2001) directs competently but, with a dash of parkour and very little gongfu this time, the movie hardly compares with the original, Kung Fu Hip Hop 精舞门 (2008), directed by China’s Fu Huayang 傅华阳. That film had a real plot played with gusto, very good martial arts and dance sequences, attractive photography of wintry Beijing, and a super-glamorous turn by Mainland actress Fan Bingbing 范冰冰 as a star DJ. In the circumstances, the expansive architecture of seaside Qingdao is small compensation.
Presented by Tianjin Northern Film Group (CN), Shenzhou TV (CN), Star Creative Multi-Media (HK). Produced by Tianjin Northern Film Group (CN), Shenzhou TV (CN), Star Creative Multi-Media (HK), Beijing Golden Autumn Harvest Film & TV (CN).
Script: Yang Zi. Photography: Kuang Tinghe. Editing: Mu Xiaojie. Songs: Rock Cat & Sam. Art direction: Guo Shaoqiang. Styling: Guo Baobao. Sound: Zhang Guohong. Action: Ma Yucheng. Choreography: Chen Jia. Executive direction: Li Dong.
Cast: Chen Bolin (Letian), Xie Tianhua (Ranqiu), Zhou Qiqi (Mianmian), Wang Zi [Qiu Shengyi] (Wang Zi), Shi Tianqi (Hong Xiu/Red Sleeve, Prince’s girlfriend), Lu Xin’er (Coco), Lin Zhenghao (Peter), Liu Meiman (Momo), Ma Jing (Ye, club owner), Chen Jia (Meat Bun), James Blackston (Stallion), Liu Yi (Miaoyin), Cheng Yi (Ziru), Liu Yong, Tian Feng.
Release: China, 10 Jun 2010; Hong Kong, 24 Jun 2010.
(Review originally published on Film Business Asia, 23 Aug 2010.)