China, 2013, colour, 2.35:1, 98 mins.
Director: Huo Yaoliang 霍耀良 [Clarence Fok].
Wannabe Valentine’s Day film is anything but together in script, tone or casting.
Hong Kong, the present day. Traffic policeman Chen Guohua, aka Cool Sir (Zhen Zidan), bumps into Su Qiaoqiao (Chen Yanxi) when he stops her for speeding; she’s wearing a wedding dress and says she is looking for Tang (Zhong Chenghan), her fiance. When he meets her by chance again, he learns from her best friend, Zoe (Zhuo Yunzhi), that Su Qiaoqiao is still in shock from a traffic accident of two years ago, after which her fiance disappeared; since then she has been suffering bouts of amnesia. Meanwhile, Boy (Ke Zhendong), a young undercover policeman specialising in wire-tapping, bumps into fashionista Li Shengnan (Yang Ying) from Beijing while he’s on a case. They later meet by chance in a park while he is on leave, and the two fall for each other over the next week. Meanwhile, Cool Sir, who’s been dumped by his girlfriend Biqi (Zhou Xiuna), learns that Su Qiaoqiao’s amnesia could prove irreversible unless she has surgery on a blood clot pressing on her nervous system. As he is the only one she recognises at present, her parents (Li Luo, Yao Kunjun) agree to him spending time with her. Meanwhile, after going back to work, Boy discovers that Li Shengnan works for environmental investment company Newell and is a prime suspect in a case of industrial fraud that his team is investigating.
A Valentine’s Day movie that can’t decide whether it’s a drama, comedy or rom-com, Together 在一起 throws a group of names together, attaches them to a script with some of the most brain-numbingly mindless dialogue in recent memory, and hopes for the best. Financed by Mainland companies, but set in Hong Kong, it features a cast from Greater China that looks strong on paper: Hong Kong’s Zhen Zidan 甄子丹 [Donnie Yen] (hot from Ip Man 叶问, 2008), Taiwan’s Chen Yanxi 陈妍希 [Michelle Chen] and Ke Zhendong 柯震东 (hot from You Are the Apple of My Eye 那些年，我们一起追的女孩。, 2011) and Shanghai-born actress-model Yang Ying 杨颖 [Angelababy] (just hot). But Zhen, as a lovelorn traffic cop, looks as if he’d rather be back in the gym, Chen is flat in a dopey amnesiac role, Ke works hard but evinces little of his natural charm in Apple and When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep 南方小羊牧场 (2012), while Yang, a dab hand at fluffy rom-coms (Love You You 夏日乐悠悠, 2011; First Time 第一次, 2012), only manages occasionally to inject a sense of fun and create some minimal chemistry with Ke.
The real star of Together is Hong Kong d.p. Xie Zhongdao 谢忠道 [Kenny Tse] (Beast Stalker 证人, 2008; Perfect Wedding 抱抱俏佳人, 2010; Motorway 车手, 2012) whose glossy photography of the leads’ impossibly wealthy lifestyles almost manages to create a fairytale world in which the superficial emotions might have worked. But the script, lead written by Hong Kong’s Luo Yaohui 罗耀辉 [Andy Lo], fails to set any consistent tone for longer than five minutes, yo-yos back and forth between two totally unconnected pairings, and again underlines the fact that Zhen, 49, simply cannot do screen romance, especially as here with actresses 20 years younger (Chen and Zhou). The second half almost decides (sensibly) that it’s a ditzy comedy, with funny bits by Hong Kong’s Jin Gang 金刚 [King Kong] as a deliveryman and an unbilled Xu Shaoxiong 许绍雄 and Yuan Qiongdan 苑琼丹 as the parents of Ke’s character. But veteran Hong Kong action-trashmeister Huo Yaoliang 霍耀良 [Clarence Fok] (Naked Killer 赤裸羔羊, 1992; Her Name Is Cat 豹妹, 1998) directs with no sense of glee (except in a sequence where Ke and Yang’s characters go paintball SWAT-ting) and in the end it’s the latter, flouncing around in costumes better suited to Hainan than Hong Kong, who catches the out-there tone of what Together could have been. She and d.p. Xie just about squeeze the movie another point.
Presented by Joy Pictures (Shanghai) (CN), China Film (CN), China Movie Channel (CN), Beijing Hua Lu Bai Na Film & TV (CN), ChinaVision Media Group (CN), Beijing Century Partner Media (CN), Beijing Le Tao Century Cultural Comunication (CN), Shanghai Jiao Yang Investment (CN), Stars Shine Blue Sea Productions (CN). Produced by Joy Pictures (Shanghai) (CN), China Film (CN), Stars Shine Blue Sea Productions (CN).
Script: Luo Yaohui [Andy Lo], Guo Le, Li Xiaofeng, Wang Hui, Qin Shuang. Photography: Xie Zhongdao [Kenny Tse]. Editing: Huang Hai. Music: Liu Wei. Title song: Yao Xiaomin. Art direction: Liang Lemin [Longman Leung]. Costume design: Zhang Shijie [Stanley Cheung]. Sound: Huang Zheng, Andrew Neil. Action: Sun Jiankui.
Cast: Zhen Zidan [Donnie Yen] (Chen Guohua/Cool Sir), Chen Yanxi [Michelle Chen] (Su Qiaoqiao/Jojo), Yang Ying [Angelababy] (Li Shengnan), Ke Zhendong (Zai/Boy), Huang Zongze (Lin Huan), Zhou Xiuna [Chrissie Chau] (Biqi/Vicki), Zhuo Yunzhi [Vincci Cheuk] (Zoe, Su Qiaoqiao’s best friend), Jin Gang [King Kong] (Su, express delivery man), Ge Mingui [Eric Kot] (theatre director), Li Luo (Su Qiaoqiao’s father), Yao Kunjun (Su Qiaoqiao’s mother), Zhong Chenghan (Tang, Su Qiaoqiao’s fiance), Chen Huihong (Huang Desheng, psychiatrist), Zhang Tongzu [Joe Cheung] (doctor), Lu Yong, Zheng Shijun (traffic policemen), Chen Liying (speeding driver), Mai Changqing (An, Zai’s superior), Chen Ying (Xiaobing, Li Shengnan’s friend), Cai Rixuan (Sen), Xu Shaoxiong (Zai’s father), Yuan Qiongdan (Zai’s mother).
Release: China, 12 Feb 2013.
(Review originally published on Film Business Asia, 9 Apr 2013.)