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Review: iGirl (2016)

iGirl

梦情人

Hong Kong/China, 2016, colour, 2.35:1, 86 mins.

Directors: Kan Jiawei 阚家伟, Wang Guangli 王光利.

Rating: 4/10.

Formulaic robo-girl comedy-romance is lifted by the easy chemistry between its two leads.

STORY

Changzhou [Cheung Chau] island, Hong Kong, the present day. Vet Lin Xiaofeng (Zheng Yijian) wakes up one morning to find a naked young woman in his flat who says she’s his personal iGirl, number 001 (Zhou Xiuna), as drunkenly ordered on the internet two nights ago after celebrating a friend’s engagement. Impressed, his two pals – handsome Johnny (He Jiewen) and fattie Zhu Yun (Lin Zicong) – order their own models, slinky 002 (Wen Kailing) and tubby 003 (Zheng Xinyi). According to 001, all three are different models: 001 has the best intelligence, 002 the biggest memory and 003 the most strength. When 001 shuts down one evening after being exposed to a magnetic field, Lin Xiaofeng meets the robots’ inventor (Anders Gustav Nilsson), who resets her and reveals he’s already working on an iGirl 2.0. Lin Xiaofeng teaches 001 about human feelings, and not to analyse everything so much, to enjoy life. Lin Xiaofeng’s former girlfriend, Janice (He Peiyu), tries to win her man back; she fails but discovers 001’s weakness. After tracking down the inventor, she and the fellow exes Rebecca (Ren Jiao) and Chili (Zhong Caixi) prepare to do battle.

REVIEW

A formulaic comedy-romance with the fingerprints of Hong Kong quickie producer Wang Jing 王晶 [Wong Jing] all over it – beautiful babes, adolescent men, back-of-a-coaster script, budget action – iGirl 梦情人 actually surprises about two-thirds of the way through as it turns from a robo-girl light comedy into a rather sweet one about unattainable love. It’s also lifted above being just a hormonal romp by the relaxed, mature presence of Zheng Yijian 郑伊健 [Ekin Cheng], 48, incongruously playing the leader of a group of pals almost half his age, and by a likeable performance – not for the first time in her career – by Mainland-born trash-film queen Zhou Xiuna 周秀娜 [Chrissie Chau], 31, as the title babe who discovers human feelings. Without over-rating the result, the easy chemistry between the two – who paired well in the much better Break Up 100 分手100次 (2014) – helps to drag the plot-thin film across the 85-minute mark without too much embarrassment. Despite all the opportunities for sex and nudity, it is, of course, as clean as a whistle.

The rest of the cast is competent without being special in any way, with Zheng Xinyi 郑欣宜 (daughter of late comedienne Shen Dianxia 沈殿霞 [Lydia Shum]) the most memorable as an ebullient robo-fattie paired with tubby actor Lin Zicong 林子聪. In his first directing credit, Hong Kong’s Kan Jiawei 阚家伟, a longtime assistant director on Wang’s productions, turns in a pretty smooth package, teamed with the Mainland’s Wang Guangli 王光利 (Dangerous Games 棒子老虎鸡, 2007; A Chilling Cosplay 制服, 2014). Technical contributions are way above the level of the thrown-together script: in his first d.p. credit, Huang Wennuo 黄文诺, who’s worked on bigger productions (As the Light Goes Out 救火英雄, 2014; Helios 赤道, 2015), ensures an easygoing look, accentuated by the setting on Changzhou [Cheung Chau] island, and cutting by Li Jiarong 李嘉荣 is okay, as are the fairly limited visual effects (given the subject).

The Chinese title means “Dream Lover”. For the Mainland it was changed to 我的极品女神 (literally, “My Top-Quality Goddess”).

CREDITS

Presented by iQiyi Pictures (Beijing) (CN), Mega-Vision Project Workshop (HK). Produced by Mega-Vision Project Production (HK).

Script: He Jie, Que Yue. Photography: Huang Wennuo. Editing: Li Jiarong. Music: Dai Wei. Art direction: Li Zifeng. Costume design: Luo Peiyi. Sound: Mai Zhi’an, Li Zhixiong, Li Yaoqiang. Action: Huang Weiliang [Jack Wong]. Visual effects: Zheng Wenzheng, Zhang Yaojia.

Cast: Zheng Yijian [Ekin Cheng] (Li Xiaofeng), Zhou Xiuna [Chrissie Chau] (iGirl 001; Ling Lingyi), He Jiewen (Johnny), Wen Kailing (iGirl 002; Ling’er), Lin Zicong (Zhu Yun), Zheng Xinyi (iGirl 003; Mizhilian/Michelin), He Peiyu (Janice), Zhong Caixi (Chili), Ren Jiao (Rebecca), Anders Gustav Nilsson (Dr. Intelligent), Feng Mianheng (Heng), Liu Jingwen (Heng’s fiancee), Fu Xiaowei, Huang Dayin (arguing couple), Luo Hengsheng (phone repairman).

Release: Hong Kong, 10 Mar 2016; China, 7 Jul 2016.