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Review: Hi, Fidelity (2011)

Hi, Fidelity

出轨的女人

Hong Kong, 2011, colour, 1.85:1, 90 mins.

Director: Pan Yuanliang 潘源良 [Calvin Poon].

Rating: 4/10.

Glossy slice of softcore nonsense is of interest only for its veteran Hong Kong female cast.

STORY

Hong Kong, the present day. Wan Bingbing (Xia Wenxi), her assistant Josephine Ma (Ye Xuan) and Sammi He (Wu Jiali) are three rich, bored women who sit together on a charity association’s board. Wan Bingbing is married to an absentee businessman (Lin Zixiang), Josephine Ma to a gangster (Du Wenze) and Sammi He to a man who left her to bring up their young son Karpo (Zhong Shaotu). At one meeting, while looking at some holiday photos, they discover Wan Bingbing’s husband in the background with a girl, which prompts a conversation about whether they should have some extra-marital fun as well. Along with Stephanie (Xian Seli), they drive across the border to a gigolo club in Shenzhen, China, run by a madame called Man (Yu An’an), who has just taken a tireless stud named Bill (Chen Weiting) on to her team of men. For the sake of anonymity, Wan Bingbing adopts the name Alice; Josephine Ma, JoJo; Sammi He, Pinky; and Stephanie, Sevon. Josephine Ma tries to pair Wan Bingbing off with Bill, but Wan Bingbing has second thoughts and leaves early. However, Bill has a quiet talk with her and, when the others return on another trip, Wan Bingbing privately meets him and they make love on a regular basis after that. But Bill is not all he seems, in more than one respect; Sammi He gets competitive with Wan Bingbing over him; Josephine Ma is hiding a secret from Wan Bingbing; and Sammi He is eventually in for a major surprise.

REVIEW

An unintentional hoot with a female cast to die for, Hi, Fidelity 出轨的女人 is a glossily-shot slice of softcore nonsense purporting to be a “women’s picture”. For fans of yesteryear Hong Kong cinema, the prime attraction is seeing two actresses now in their mid/late-40s back on the screen: Xia Wenxi 夏文汐 [Pat Ha] (Woman of Wrath 杀夫, 1986; Rouge of the North 怨女, 1988) in only her second film since retiring in 1989, and Wu Jiali 吴家丽 [Carrie Ng] (the murderous lesbian in trash classic Naked Killer 赤裸羔羊, 1992) who’s effectively been retired for almost a decade. Both look hardly touched by the passage of time, and Xia especially oozes mature class as a woman stuck in a sexless marriage who eventually falls for a slick gigolo. Both give younger, Mainland-born actress Ye Xuan 叶璇 [Michelle Ye] (Dream Home 维多利亚壹号, 2010) a run for her money as the trio cut loose in trips to a gigolo club across the border, though even Ye, who more and more recalls a younger Liu Jialing 刘嘉玲 [Carina Lau], manages to rise above the laughably meaningful script.

In a rare directorial excursion, writer-actor Pan Yuanliang 潘源良 [Calvin Poon] (Kiss Me Goodbye 恋爱季节, 1986) marshals some top people on the technical side – d.p. Lin Guohua 林国华 [Ardy Lam] and Wen Wenjie 温文杰, editor Zhong Weizhao 钟炜钊 [Azrael Chung] – for a glossy bored-wives-wanna-have-fun tale that recalls slick Hong Kong lifestyle movies of the 1980s. As a “women’s picture”, however, it has nothing to say and is nowhere near other examples of that era, such as Profiles of Pleasure 群莺乱舞 (1988) and I Am Sorry 说谎的女人 (1989), both by Ou Dingping 区丁平 [Tony Au], or even Women 女人心 (1985), by Guan Jinpeng 关锦鹏 [Stanley Kwan]. Piling one after another fabricated revelation on another, the script’s second half collapses under its own theatricality and the shallowness of the characters. The only entertainment comes from watching the actresses trying their best and from working out how the project attracted people like Zheng Danrui 郑丹瑞 [Lawrence Cheng], Du Wenze 杜汶泽 [Chapman To] and veterans Lin Zixiang 林子祥 [George Lam] and Yu An’an 余安安 [Candice Yu] in supporting roles. As the fought-over gigolo with a secret, Chen Weiting 陈伟霆 is at least believable.

The original title roughly means “Women Who Jump the Rails”, in the sense of stepping outside the norm.

CREDITS

Presented by Wide China Creation (HK), Mei Ah Film Production (HK), Local Production (HK). Produced by Local Production (HK).

Script: Pan Yuanliang [Calvin Poon], Yang Yishan. Photography: Lin Guohua [Ardy Lam], Wen Wenjie. Editing: Zhong Weizhao [Azrael Chung], Xu Weijie [Matthew Hui]. Music: Wu Jie [Da Jamz]. Art direction: Pan Yuanliang [Calvin Poon]. Costume design: Zhang Xuerun. Sound: Tan Derong, Li Yaoqiang, Li Zhixiong. Visual effects: Digital Magic. Choreography: Mai Qiucheng.

Cast: Xia Wenxi [Pat Ha] (Wan Bingbing/Alice), Ye Xuan [Michelle Ye] (Josephine Ma/JoJo), Wu Jiali [Carrie Ng] (Sammi He/Pinky), Chen Weiting (Bill; Ben), Du Wenze [Chapman To] (Matt Ma, Josephine Ma’s husband), Zheng Danrui [Lawrence Cheng] (Mr. He, Sammi He’s husband), Yu An’an [Candice Yu] (Man, madame), Xian Seli (Stephanie/Sevon), Tan Junyan [Shaun Tam] (Chao, Sammi He’s driver), Zhong Shaotu (He Jiaibao/Karpo, Sammi He’s son), Lin Zixiang [George Lam] (Wan Bingbing’s husband), Lu Mixue [Michelle Lo] (Man’s client from Taiwan), He Kaiting (Mrs. Chen), Yao Miaofen (Mrs. Guan), Liang Zuyao (Simon), Wang Zongyao (Nakata), Chen Jiale (Tony), Zheng Jiawei (Jay), Han Junting [Belinda Hamnett] (Mrs. Gim), Li Baihuan (young man), Wang Zhongxin [Kara Wang] (Shan, Wan Bingbing’s adopted daughter).

Premiere: Hong Kong Film Festival (Gala Premieres), 23 Mar 2011.

Release: Hong Kong, 24 Mar 2011.

(Review originally published on Film Business Asia, 17 Aug 2011.)