Movie Details

CONTRACT LOVER

Fatt (Richie Jen) is from a family of martial arts experts, but he ends up being a businessman instead. He intends to introduce his girlfriend (Kate Tsui) to his father (Yuen Wah) but is skeptical over whether his father would accept her modern ways. Hence, Fatt resorts to hiring a temporary girlfriend to test out his father. Jo Lau (Fan Bingbing) has just graduated from university and urgently needs money. She takes up the job and signs a contract with Fatt to be his temporary lover. Fatt brings Jo home to meet his father, only to face the unexpected.

Language: Chinese
Subtitle: NA
Classification: PG
Release Date: 23 Aug 2007
Genre: Comedy / Romance
Running Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes
Distributor: GOLDEN VILLAGE PICTURES
Cast: Fan Bingbing
Director:
Format: NA

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Review
Writer: Lim Chang Moh

Writer Ratings:
Overall:
Cast:
Plot:
Effects: NA
Cinematography:

Watch this if you liked: "Exiled", "The Wedding Date" and "Elixir Of Love"

As soon as you learn what "Contract Lover" is about, you can safely predict how it will turn out. Its plot, about some guy hiring a girl to pose as his girlfriend to rile up his conservative parents so that she could be rejected in favour of his real girlfriend, is such a cliched romantic comedy set-up that everything seems to go according to formula.

The most recent flick based on this kind of plot was "The Wedding Date" (2005) which was shown locally both in the cinemas and on Astro last year - to lukewarm reviews. "Contract Lover" has 'cinema fodder' written all over it and it is doubtful that it would generate much business here and abroad. 'Cinema fodder', for the uninitiated, are B-grade quickie efforts produced to generate work for the studios and to 'feed' the cinemas.

"Contract Lover" is the story of Fok Kai Fatt (Richie Jen), a Beijing businessman who is pressured by his family to get married as soon as possible. Fatt is afraid that his girlfriend Rachel (Kate Tsui) is too Westernised to be accepted by his tradition-minded father (Yuen Wah, as a martial arts teacher), so he hires Jo Lau (Fan Bingbing) to pose as his fiancee and meet his family in their village home. The plan is to get Jo to shock his father with her 'wild and modern' behaviour so that he would reject her and settle for Rachel instead.

Of course, it is mandatory of all romantic comedies that nothing would go as planned - and you can guess the outcome. However, for such a plot to work, there must be chemistry between the leads, as well as a certain amount of hilarity in the proceedings. You can write off the first requirement as Richie Jen and Fan Bingbing are not only mismatched, they are also miscast.

Richie has only two stock expressions to offer - looking bewildered and going 'hmm?' and brooding in silence. Bingbing is pretty, period. Together, they are as romantic as a dog and a cat - and even act as such. Yuen Wah (of "Kungfu Hustle" fame) does nothing to 'energise' this movie.

As for its attempts at humour, the gags are mostly lame and tame, involving a comedy of errors (as when Fatt's aunt imagines what she believes are bedroom noises) and a clash of cultures (as when the frumpy aunt tries pole-dancing). Gay humour seem to be a must for Hong Kong comedies these days, and here we have some comic relief provided by an 'American' friend of Jo who accompanies her to the family home. This provides a love-triangle subplot among Fatt's sister, the American and a kungfu student who is in love with the sister.

Recommended only for fans of Fan Bingbing and Richie Jen.

Cinema Online, 23 September 2008
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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