Xu Lai had dreams once. To be an artist and marry the girl of his dreams. 15 years later, he’s sick of designing bras, humoring his baby-crazy wife, and catering to loopy in-laws. But his upcoming family vacation, now has a hidden agenda: a chance meetup with his old flame.
“Lost in Hong Kong” desperately wants you to like it. It has good actors, beautiful locales, top-notch cinematography, and an appropriate, fully-orchestrated soundtrack. So what’s missing? The one element required in order to satisfy audiences: a good film. The basic plot revolves around Xu Lai (Xu Zheng), a young artist who while in college, falls in love with a fellow artist, the beautiful Yang Yi (Du Juan). Although they are together for some time, whenever they try to kiss each other, or make out, some inexplicable event, or occurrence transpires which prevents them from going any further. Eventually, Yang gets transferred to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, leaving Xu behind. Soon thereafter, he meets Cai Bo (Zhao Wei), another art student and they end up falling for each other and getting married. Twenty years later however, while he and Cai constantly fail to conceive a child, he never stops thinking about Yang, and what might have been.
While on vacation in Hong Kong with Cai’s domineering family, he hears about an art exhibit that Yang is presenting to the public and plans to sneak away to see her but with Cai’s younger brother, Cai Lala (Bao Bei’er), a filmmaker who is making a documentary about Xu’s life and who is following his every move, Xu must outsmart the youngster while also becoming embroiled in a murder investigation in which he becomes the primary suspect.
The real problem with “Lost in Hong Kong,” is that it is not very funny. Granted, while different cultures possess diversified degrees of humor, they don’t always translate very well to other cultures, and this appears to be the case here. The majority of the movie involves characters shouting and screaming at each other while becoming entangled in numerous, physical fiascos and the combination, which I’m assuming the intended goal was to be humorous, instead comes off as loud and irritating. Imagine the producers of “The Hangover” decided that in order to make the film even funnier, their actors would have to start running around, hands flailing in the air, screaming at anybody and anything that gets in their way. Now you have an idea of what to expect from “Lost in Hong Kong.”
There is a really interesting premise underneath all the shallow antics on display here. I’m sure at some point in our lives, we’ve all thought about one person we were involved with and wonder what might have been, had we stayed with them. I would have much rather this film be a romantic comedy, following the same story but concentrating on the more dramatic elements, with a dash of humor, instead of turning it into an all-out debacle. The director of the film, Xu Zheng, and also the film’s charismatic lead, directed the 2012 comedy, “Lost in Thailand,” about three friends on a road trip and the zany antics that fell flat in this iteration, didn’t fare much better in its predecessor’s excursion. Maybe it’s time Mr. Zheng started making movies about discovery, rather than calamity.
Available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD March 1st
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