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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
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   Marry a Rich Man  


Marry a Rich Man

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Director: Vincent Kok
Starring: Sammi Cheng, Richie Ren
Genre: Comedy
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Year released: 2002
Rating: * * ½ (out of four stars)

Marry a Rich Man re-teams Richie Ren and Sammi Cheng, whose Summer Holiday last year did pretty well at the box office, in yet another romantic comedy. This time around, the story is a distinctly Asian take on Cinderella, with a surreal sci-fi twist thrown in for good measure. Does it work? Yes and no. Marry a Rich Man is pleasantly fluffy throughout most of its running time, yet the plot twists are so patently absurd that it becomes almost impossible to swallow, despite the requisite suspension of disbelief when watching a romantic comedy.

Mi (Sammi Cheng) is leading a happy life helping her father deliver LPG tanks, but she is rudely awakened to the "fact" that she needs to marry a rich man, after bumping into her old classmate who has done just that. She chances upon a book that teaches her methods to snag that rich, handsome man she dreams about. One method taught is to fly first class to a faraway, romantic location, and to romance an ostensibly rich man on the airplane en route to the location. Mi decides to use this scheme, and the location she chooses is Milan, Italy.

On the plane, posed as a rich woman, she bumps into Dan (Richie Ren), an ostensibly rich man who’s on a sabbatical to Milan. An unfortunate event leads to their wallets being stolen in Milan, and together Mi and Dan spend a day together doing soppy, romantic stuff that doesn’t require any money. However, Mi soon finds out that Dan is not a rich man – and Dan finds out the same about Mi. Their romance comes to an abrupt end, and Mi returns to Hong Kong a brokenhearted woman. She is then courted by an exceedingly rich banker called Wilson, but can’t forget the attraction she has toward Dan. Which would she choose – true love or money?

Vincent Kok is the person behind the camera of Marry a Rich Man, and like most romantic comedies, this film doesn’t really excel in technical aspects. Although there are several computer-animated sequences, they are nothing spectacular. The reason these sequences are present is the sci-fi subplot – but it’s a very ill conceived move, as the sci-fi aspect is totally out of sync with the rest of the movie. Unlike Kate & Leopold, which used the theme of time travel to reasonably good effect, in Marry a Rich Man it was obvious from the very beginning that the sole purpose of the sci-fi facet was to allow for a deus ex machina in the final reel. And of course, the film eventually did end with an undeniably poor denouement that requires an immense leap of faith.

The two leads are reasonably capable in their roles, but there is a "been there, done that" feeling – both Sammi Cheng and Richie Ren are generally reprising their roles in Summer Holiday. Candy Lo stars in a small, interesting role that suggests of lesbianism, but the plot thread is never given much attention, and is totally forgotten at the end of the movie. Perhaps this is being too harsh on what is basically a Chinese New Year popcorn movie, and if you view the movie without thinking too deeply, it does entertain, and there is a happy ending. It may be a bit too formulaic, but why fix something that isn’t broken?

Final Word: Nothing groundbreaking, but it’s designed to be a crowd-pleaser, despite its unevenness.