‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2’: Toronto Review

Don't Go Breaking My Heart 2
Courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival
Chinese dreams of love, wealth and sex make this rom-com reboot look very much like a calculated piggy-bank stuffer

Hong Kong director Johnnie To revisits his 2011 rom-com, adding Miriam Yeung and Vic Chou to the bright threesome of Louis Koo, Daniel Wu and Gao Yuanyuan

Was there really any need to continue the romantic adventures and female fantasies about rich, desirable bachelors brought to the screen in the 2011 Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (Dan Shen Nan Nu)? Apparently so, since the second installment has arrived, looking as locally targeted as the first. The gamely goofy cast reprises Louis Koo, Daniel Wu and Gao Yuanyuan playing the same characters as in Part 1, plus Hong Kong comedienne Miriam Yeung and boyish Taiwanese thesp Vic Chou added in the spirt of the more the merrier. All the actors know how to turn on the charm and director Johnnie To hits the laugh buttons, but the main aim seems to be playing on women’s fantasies about three very hot guys who are dying to drop everything and fall in love. And since there are only two women on board, there's plenty to go around.

The other fantasy fed by To, who is best-known for his genre-changing action and gangster films like the recent Drug War, is the lure of fabulous wealth. The guy in the Maserati and the girl in the Ferrari chat while speeding down the highway, the cute boy turns out to live on a spanking new yacht, and almost everybody works for major investment firms when they’re not out sampling the delights of expensive restaurants and getting drunk on fine wine. Whether the screenplay by To and his Milkway Image partner Wai Ka-fai is supposed to be ironically over-the-top, or a sop to China’s new or wannabe millionaires, is not clear. It seems  reminiscent of Hollywood in the Depression-era Thirties, when the Gatsby-style life-style of the very rich became part of a collective dream.

In the first film, pretty Zixin (Gao) arrived in Hong Kong from the Mainland to work as a financial analyst in a high-powered corporation, where she was courted by her boss Cheung Shen Ran (Koo, looking like he spent too much time under the suntan lamps) and handsome architect Fang Qihong (a serious-faced Wu, star of Tai Chi 0 and That Demon Within.)  In the end she chooses the architect, and Part 2 begins with her trying on a wedding dress in front of her brother Paul (Vic Chou) and effortlessly landing a new job in a rival investment firm run by “the goddess of stocks”, Ms. Yang Yang Yang (Cheung). The film’s absurd tone is set in an opener showing how Yang is having trouble parallel parking her new white Ferrari when two men leap to her side to help her – Paul and Cheung Shen Ran. They will battle it out for her affection for the rest of the film.

Like the other eligible, love-hungry bachelors, Cheung Shen Ran is immensely rich and talented, handsome and athletic. His rock-climbing abilities are put to use in a set piece climbing one of the highest buildings Hong Kong. In a parallel to the first film, he rents new office space on the same street as Yang, and they end up looking at each other through the windows of their executive offices. This is the source of more tired peeping Tom and message-on-the-window gags. As he courts the 40-ish Yang he realizes he's still in love with the 30-ish Zixin, though neither love affair puts the slightest dent in his active sex life with big-breasted models and airline hostesses. 

A little more original is young Paul’s wooing of the older Yang. Chou plays a happy-go-lucky free spirit to Cheung’s lusty sophisticate but there is a madcap connection between the two, evidenced in an off-the-wall scene in a seafood restaurant where they rescue a live octopus to general consternation and take him home. He's a pet who seems able to predict the future.

Bright lighting and sparkling music underline the broad comedy of the film, whose title literally translates as Single Men and Women.

Production company: Milkyway Image
Cast: Louis Koo, Daniel Wu, Miriam Yeung, Gao Yuanyuan, Vic Chou
Director: Johnnie To
Screenplay: Wai Ka-fai, Ryker Chan, Xi Yu
Producers:  Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai
Executive producers: Peter Lam, Yanming Liu, Jerry Ye, Shaohong Li
Director of photography: Hung Mo To
Production designer: Bruce Yu
Editor: David Richardson
Music: Hal Foxton Beckett
Sales: Media Asia

No rating, 113 minutes