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每當變幻時 (2007)
Hooked On You

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 04/03/2009

“Hooked on You” is a romantic drama that shouldn’t be compared with “Comrades, almost a Love Story” for the same reasons that the efforts of a sincere and talented art student shouldn’t be compared with “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt. Unfortunately it is difficult to watch this movie without thinking of the masterpiece with Maggie Cheung and Leon Lai. Both of them cover the same world historical events: the handover of Hong Kong to the PRC, the Asian financial crisis, the SARS crisis, from the point of view of a mismatched couple who fall in and out of love with each other, separating and coming together as the world careens past. Because the audience isn’t invested in the lives of the characters in “Hooked on You” their tribulations between 1997 and 2007 don’t have much effect.

We first encounter Miu and Fishman, the star-crossed lovers, in the Fortune Market. Where they have competing fish stands. Miu works with her father and is stuck in the market because he is in debt to the owner of the market due to gambling losses. Fishman runs his operation with the assistance of two of his friends. One of them, Joe, decides that life as a smuggler is better than getting up early every morning to buy fish from Courtney Wu. He soon is wearing universal emblems of the newly rich hipster, gaudy gold chains and slicked back hair. Fortune Market might represent a microcosm of working class Hong Kong during the late 1990s. Stalls are held by families who band together against outsiders. A new supermarket opens nearby with packaged vegetables, fresh fish on ice and prepared meals so the men and women of the market band together to fight it. They adopt some of the outward signs of the supermarket such as a turnstile that they don’t need, steal some carts from the competitor and set up free sampling areas. Nothing works since Fortune Market can prosper only in the form that it has for decades—nothing that is new and different will work. At a going away party for the oldest stall holders who are headed to the United States the toast is that the market will never change.

There are some extremely broad symbols of Hong Kong’s recent past as exemplified by Fruitman, Chickman, Porky and the rest of the gang. One was the closing of a bakery in the neighborhood—it was covered by television news partially so that the audience would know what was happening, partially to underline the importance to the closing as a signifier—if it’s on TV then it is real. The scene looked like a run on a bank as a crowd waving their coupons for free cake milled about in front of the bakery, desperate to exchange their about to be worthless pieces of paper for sugary treats. The next scene takes place on the roof of the market where we see the entire workforce with cake boxes eating as much as they can until many of them have to stagger back downstairs to be sick. The closing of the bakery and the panic shown by its coupon holders mirrored the shock of the handover and the fear of many in Hong Kong that their livelihoods and savings would be wiped out. It was as subtle as a piano falling down a flight of stairs but not as much fun to watch. Director Law Wing-Cheong kept the needle pinned to the obvious setting throughout the film.

Eason Chan and Miriam Yeung do as good a job as they can with a lame script and inept direction. Chan is especially good in the opening scenes playing a glowering thug with a soft spot for his competition across the aisle. They are surrounded by a terrific supporting cast of old and young pros, all of whom deserved better. Some of the main problems with “Hooked on You” are exemplified by the set design, art direction and even the props themselves. Everything in the market—the fish stands, the meat counters, the fruit and vegetable bins, even the floors, are always clean and polished looking. It simply doesn’t feel like a market where people arrive before the sun comes up trying to sell goods that will be worth nothing in a few hours. It looks like an American situation comedy—with a few couches and coffee cups it could be the set of “Friends”.

This is valiant try by the actors but nothing to recommend.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: barrst
Date: 09/19/2007
Summary: Bittersweet romantic comedy

Miu (Miriam Yeung) works in an old market selling fish to pay off her father's gambling debts. She wants to get out of the market and move up in the world, but with each passing year it seems less likely. Fishman (Eason Chan) is a better off fish seller at the same market, but not far enough up the ladder to interest Miu. Over the 10 years the film covers (1997-2007) they grow closer and experience those eventful times in HK.

While the lead acting is good, the movie felt too artificial to be really engaging.

Reviewer Score: 6