Best described as a Chinese crossover between the Hangover series and Due Date, Lost in Hong Kong is the sequel to director Xu Zheng’s blockbuster hit Lost in Thailand. Starring Xu Zheng, Zhao Wei, Bao Bei’er and Du Juan, the action-comedy follows painter-turned-brassiere designer Xu Lai as he embarks on a 12-hour adventure through the streets of Hong Kong unwillingly accompanied by a Zach Galifianakis-esque sidekick/brother-in-law Cai Lala.
An avid painter in his university years, Xu Lai engaged in an innocent and chaste, yet culture-filled relationship with fellow classmate Du Juan, ending after she chose to go on exchange to Hong Kong, leaving him behind. Fast forward twenty years, Xu Lai is now married to Bo Cai, a girl who had admired him throughout university, and working as a designer of brassieres at her father’s company. Taking a short family trip to Hong Kong, Xu Lai attempts to seek out old flame Du Juan, who had invited him to her first art exhibition, but is hindered by brother-in-law Cai Lala, a mushroom-headed, GoPro-toting aspiring director attempting to interview his brother in law for a self-made documentary, leading into a series of deeply unfortunate events.
Although set in Hong Kong, the film is a stoic tribute to Chinese culture, referencing everything from the 1980s classic “Shanghai Tang” to wildly popular reality singing show “The Voice of China” with varying subtlety. Although such digs did provoke my sense of humour, I can’t help but thinking that they were somewhat cheap thrills which were irrelevant to the storyline.
All actors performed solidly, with great chemistry that welded together the at-times fragmented script. Xu Zheng, as the central character alternated smoothly between his hassled and humorous mid-life crisis persona and his softer, more intimate side, provoking more than a tear or two when he professed his love for his wife. Inevitably, Bao Bei’er’s exaggerated expressions and childish manner provided much-needed comic relief, as did the doe-eyed Zhao Wei.
In terms of plot, the storyline was unconventional and creative in thinking up the brother-in-laws’ shenanigans, but were at times too time-consuming and longwinded. Despite this, the clear beauty of this film underneath all the slapstick humor was the engaging way in which director Xu Zheng portrayed Hong Kong, weaving through its ins and outs and showcasing its vibrant eclectic nature in a way that other more acclaimed directors have failed (See: Michael Mann’s Blackhat). From high-end shopping malls to roadside locksmiths, prostitution dens to mahjong houses, locations and props were meticulously curated with stunning cinematography as an end result.
Funny and heart-warming, the movie was a clear crowd-pleaser; simple in its aim but nevertheless a pleasure to watch.
Review score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Lost in Hong Kong is out now