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Lan Kwai Fong 2 has more cleavage, teased nudity and flesh-groping than its predecessor but lacks the novelty or depth to make it more than a cynical money grab. Shallow and predictable PG-13 softcore. The ending is a milestone of terrible cinema and may induce hives.
Promiscuous things going on every night at LKF. Tonight, a photographer hits it off with a girl that just broke up with her rich ex-boyfriend; an office boy in advertising mistakes his cell phone for a pretty married woman’s; a broker gets to know a prostitute a lot more than he should; a patrol officer comes across a female DJ working at a night club, they’re like familiar strangers to each other.
Last year’s Lan Kwai Fong was talked up as an update of the topical 1990s Twenty Something youth movie formula, but the most notable thing that film did was bring some sexiness back to Hong Kong cinema screens. The movie turned out to be a surprise hit that demonstrated that audiences could use a little flesh-grabbing to go along with their romantic clichés, so director Wilson Chin and his team return with Lan Kwai Fong 2, offering even more groping, peek-a-boo teases and hackneyed platitudes. The big innovation: nothing, unless you count the complete absence of topical issues or mature themes. Unlike the first bunch of LKFers, who occasionally reflected on clichéd but relevant youth issues, the youth of Lan Kwai Fong 2 are content with sex or love, and if an obstacle gets in the way of sex or love, they’ll brush it aside and continue pursuing that sex or love before it runs off to have sex or love with someone else. The Lan Kwai Fong movies: truly an anthem for our times.
The story because someone is credited with writing it: poor photography assistant Rain (Kelvin Kwan) meets rich girl Summer (Shiga Lin) in a Lan Kwai Fong club and they fall quickly in love. However, their union goes south when Summer’s father (guitarist Joey Tang) disapproves of their class differences. Don (Sammy Sum) is a frequent player who starts a phone flirtation with Siri (Liu Yuqi, violating an Apple trademark) after they accidentally switch phones. Avis (Avis “Boyfriend of Chrissie Chau” Chan) hangs out at the club attending to his crappy boss Chef Hung (King Kong), but along the way he falls for pitiable and pneumatically-pleasing club girl QQ (Mia). Meanwhile, disc jockey Maxim (Linah Matsuoka) enters into a lusty flirtation with hunky young cop Fai (Dominic Ho of band Bro5). Circling these main roles are a variety of other characters, including a douchebag rich kid (singer Benedict Chong) who has a finger in more than one of these relationship pies. Love starts, sex happens and your ticket money disappears.
The main feature of Lan Kwai Fong 2, besides a nightclub where people are strangely able to have conversations without raising their voices, is the abundance of non-revealing sex scenes. Neither erotic nor particularly exciting, the sex features bare backs, side breast exposure and, in one instance, bra-clad boobs pressed up against a plate glass window. There’s also implied fellatio, making this Lan Kwai Fong entry more risqué than the last one. However, without actual nudity or engaging characters and situations, the whole exercise is just perfunctory softcore for post-adolescents. If the film posits a reality on the clubbing life, it’s this: many young people meet and hang out in clubs, and many are buff or chesty and wear miniskirts and eyeliner - even the guys! Situations are drawn from an even more familiar well of melodrama than the previous film, with some subplots introduced and then ignored because the filmmakers forgot or simply don’t care. On a one-to-ten creativity scale, Lan Kwai Fong 2 earns a solid negative six.
Shallow, predictable filmmaking can appeal to a certain audience, so Lan Kwai Fong 2 serves that purpose. At times, this sequel delivers the same soap opera entertainment as the original, though that feeling declines as the film progresses. The worst is saved for last. Spoiler rules dictate that I can’t give away a film’s ending, but this one is as cringeworthy and embarrassing as they come. Seriously: Worst. Ending. Ever. Also, how can a guy like Rain, who works at 7-11 to make ends meet, even afford to hang out in Lan Kwai Fong? No wonder Summer’s father doesn’t like him – he’s willing to pay HK$75 for a drink when he could pay a quarter of the price at his own workplace. No big surprise: most outcomes in this film are happy ones, but if the participants in these urban fairy tales have this little common sense, they’ll probably be divorced or bankrupt by the time Lan Kwai Fong 3 rolls around.
The saving grace of Lan Kwai Fong 2: Alex Fong Lik-Sun. The star of Wilson Chin’s Summer Love Love cameos as a guy who everyone says looks like Alex Fong – and yet he still can’t get into clubs, leading to no less than three scenes where he grouses about unfathomable door policies. This narrative is clear: will the Alex Fong lookalike get into the Lan Kwai Fong club of his choice to impress the ladies with his ability to look like Alex Fong? It speaks poorly for the film that this subplot is scads more entertaining than everything surrounding it. Besides Fong, the film offers cameo appearances by other big or semi-big names, many of whom participated in Wilson Chin’s famous TVB work. Wilson Chin even gives himself a cameo, which means exactly what? Nothing. Just like Lan Kwai Fong 2 and, presumably, its inevitable future sequels. In Lan Kwai Fong 3, I hope they destroy the place with a meteor. (Kozo, 2012)
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