Flying with You
China, 2012, colour, 2.35:1, 97 mins.
Director: Zhang Li 張蠡.
Fluffy Chinese vehicle for South Korean actress-singer Jang Na-ra is for addicts only.
China, the present day. After living away for a year, He Qianqian, aka Baby (Jang Na-ra), takes the train home to her father, company chairman He Zhenxiong (Ju Ho-seong), whose ambitious deputy general manager, Xiao Han (Wang Siwei), she had promised to marry if she’d found no one else during the past 12 months. During an attempted robbery at the train station, which He Qianqian foils, she gets to know a fellow passenger, Lin Yuxin (Wang Zizi), who’s come to meet her boyfriend but can’t trace him. He Qianqian invites her to stay at her family home. While visiting a beauty spot with Lin Yuxin, He Qianqian is “abducted” by former special services soldier Xu Yifan (Lin Zhiying), who’s flying by on his paramotor glider. When the glider crashes in the jungle, Xu Yifan’s survival skills help them to pass the night unscathed. The incident, however, has been treated as a kidnapping and next day they are found not only by Wang Jiao (Chen Jiajia), a special forces policewoman privately hired by her friend Xiao Han, but also by a police SWAT squad. The misunderstanding is cleared up, but Xiao Han becomes jealous of He Qianqian’s friendship with both Xu Yifan and Lin Yuxin. Lin Yuxin suddenly returns home for no reason, though He Qianqian tells her she’ll continue to look for her missing boyfriend. Meanwhile, Xiao Han asks Wang Jiao to come on to Xu Yifan to divert him away from He Qianqian, who is still delaying her marriage to Xiao Han as she discovers he’s only interested in money and power, not her.
Primarily targeted at the sizeable fanbase in China for South Korean actress-singer Jang Na-ra 장나라 | 张娜拉, Flying with You 一起飞 is a well-mounted piece of fluff that’s diverting on a totally superficial level after a wobbly first half-hour. One of the few South Korean entertainers who can perform reasonably in Mandarin, Jang, who’s now 31, is actually more effective when she’s not mining her trademark cute/ditzy image (previously on full-bore display in Oh! Happy Day 오! 해피데이, 2003), though she doesn’t show any special chemistry here with her co-star, Taiwan actor-singer-racing car enthusiast Lin Zhiying (Speed Angels 极速天使, 2011; If I Were You 变身男女, 2012), here playing an ex-special services paragliding nut. Other performances are rom-com routine, with Mainland comedian Xiao Jian (My Own Swordsman 武林外传, 2011) overdoing the comic relief in a best-friend role, and Jang’s real-life actor father, Ju Ho-seong 주호성 | 朱虎声, looking and behaving unsettlingly like Hong Kong comedian Huang Baiming 黄百鸣 [Raymond Wong].
Perpetually flashing back and forth, the script is totally unbelievable even on a rom-com level, though the cast never seems to pretend it’s anything else. Director Zhang Li 张蠡, an August First Film Studio employee who’s worked on many TV dramas, keeps things bubbling along with plenty of good-looking scenery (largely in Shaanxi province, plus some in Yunnan), zippy effects and professional mounting. Even for fans of Jang and Lin, however, this is strictly a blow-and-throw movie. Though Jang hardly looks or acts like a Chinese, her accent is explained away by the line “I grew up in South Korea”.
Presented by China Third Ring Audio-Video Press (CN), Beijing Qin Shi Ming Yue Film & TV Culture Media (CN), Huaxia Film Distribution (CN). Produced by August First Film Studio (CN), China Third Ring Audio-Video Press (CN), Beijing Qin Shi Ming Yue Film & TV Culture Media (CN), Nanjing Automobile Group (CN), Xianyang Municipal Committee of Shaanxi Province (CN), Xianyang Municipal Government of Shaanxi Province (CN), Xunyi County of Shaanxi Province (CN), Xunyi Government of Shaanxi Province (CN).
Script: Wang Gehong, Zhang Li. Photography: Chu Xing. Editing: Zhang Yifan. Music: MUplanning. Song direction: Jeong Seung-hyeon. Art direction: Ren Bing. Costumes: Bak Gyeong-hwa, Ma Rui, Dong Yunpeng, Zhou Cui. Sound: Liu Linzong. Action: Hu Lifeng. Special effects: Song Peiliang. Visual effects: Zhang Guohua, Xi Yuwen, Zhang Jing. Aerial photography: Li Xiong. Executive direction: Wu Di.
Cast: Lin Zhiying (Xu Yifan), Jang Na-ra (He Qianqian/Baby), Wang Siwei (Xiao Han), Xiao Jian (Ding Biao, Xu Yifan’s friend), Wang Zizi (Lin Yuxin), Chen Jiajia (Wang Jiao/Blank-Face), Ju Ho-seong (He Zhenxiong, He Qianqian’s father), Na Wei (Big Head, Xiao Han’s assistant), Fei Long (Fattie), Song Xin (Zhao, police officer), Sun Haidong (thin policeman), Ma Tingjun (man trying on clothes), Wang Lulu (his girlfriend), Gao Feifei (young lady).
Premiere: Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (Vision Express), South Korea, 21 Jul 2012.
Release: China, 21 Aug 2012.
(Review originally published on Film Business Asia, 27 Jul 2012.)