Boys Are Easy (1993)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-05-17
In the 1930’s Hollywood made some wonderful screwball comedies. These movies centered on the difficulties of a couple who, despite being completely wrong for each other wound up together when the credits rolled at the end. The characters created fantastic problems for themselves and generally made things worse while trying to solve them. Examples are “The Philadelphia Story” with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, “It Happened One Night” with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert or “The Lady Eve” with Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyk. No one will ever mistake Wong Jing for Preston Stuges, but this film seems like a throwback to some of Hollywood’s best comedies—it has the same movie DNA.

In “Boys Are Easy” there are three couples involved in the mistaken identities, near misses, close calls, love at first sight, disdain at first sight, meddling parents, nosy friends and general confusion. It has enough star power to light up the night sky, with Brigette Lin, Maggie Cheung and Chingmy Lau as dutiful daughters who must find men to pose as their fiancés by their father’s birthday. They have one month to do so and set their caps, respectively for Tony Leung Ka-Fai who is the King of Gigolo Karaoke, Jackie Chueng, a goofy triad and Elkin Cheng, who is the son of a friend and, at 27, still a virgin.

Lin plays Ching Siu Tung, the toughest cop in Hong Kong. She dresses in men’s suits complete with vest and tie and can out shoot, out kick and out run any bad guy who crosses her path. She decides to take the easy way out and hires a gigolo to act as her boyfriend. Simon Tse Sai, the gigolo played by Leung, is immediately smitten by her, of course and goes to insane lengths to win her hand. Maggie Cheung is Ching Siu Nam, a kindhearted social worker who falls for Wu Ying, an up and coming triad guy who wins the gold medal in the triad Olympics in the “long jump while carrying bags of heroin” event. At one point to save Wu Ying from his boss she becomes Vietnam Sue, tough triad chick complete with headband, torn fishnets and bad attitude. Chingmy Lau is the youngest daughter, Dr. Ching Siu Sze, who gets involved with Lee Ching Ko, Elkin Chang’s character. For reasons that make sense only in the context of the movie, she has to pretend to be a penniless prostitute.

So...Brigette Lin is a gender bending role, Maggie Cheung as a gangsta girl and Chingmy Yau as a sexpot. Each is an obvious but still very funny comment on the roles they often play.

There are too many twists and turns in the plot, too many false starts and dead ends and just too much happening to try to summarize it here. There are plenty of well done set pieces—Brigette Lin meets Tony Leung after a terrific fight scene in which the head of a band of criminals takes the gigolo as a hostage. Later, at the male bordello where Tse Sai works the ladies have their choice of movie roles to play with the men. Instead of the usual, like “Gone with the Wind”, Ching Siu Tung selects “A New Beginning” and Tse Sai shows up in full Mark Gor drag—hair slicked back, shades, toothpick, trench coat, guns in both hands. She shoots him.

Ching Sui Nam attends the triad Olympics and accidentally wins an event. Ching Siu Sze borrows both a baby and a mother to make her plight seem real, but runs into trouble when the real son of the woman posing as her mother shows up. There is a twist at the end, but everyone winds up with the right partner.

And of course there is the big musical number in the bowling alley....

This is a very funny movie, full of over the top performances by big stars who seem to be enjoying themselves while parodying their more “serious” roles. There are several versions of it circulating—one is missing some events in the triad Olympics, another doesn’t include the bowling alley song and dance. But any version that you rent or buy will have more than enough screwball comedy to be well worth it.

This review is based on a Tse Seng Entertainment DVD. It is in Cantonese with nonremovable English and Traditional Chinese subtitles. The running time is given as “approximately 87 minutes” on the packaging but the DVD itself times out at 97 minutes 25 seconds from opening to closing credits.
Reviewer Score: 7