Needing You ... (2000)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-10-16
Kinki Kwok is a flighty but very competent clerical worker who works in the Hong Kong sales office of a large chip manufacturing company. She comes to work early, stays late and is always willing to take on extra work from other employees. Her personal life is a mess; she always catches her boyfriends with other women—four so far—and compulsively cleans whatever is handy when depressed or unhappy. The movie starts with her locked in the women’s rest room cleaning the toilets.

Kinki is winningly played by Sammi Cheung. She is the center “Needing You”—her failed relationships, her somewhat nutty family, her work habits and her love for motorcycles are what drive the plot. Sammi Cheung hits all the right notes, is physically right for the role and has good comic timing.

As directed by the talented Johnny To, this movie is as light and sweet as spun sugar candy. It is an insubstantial creation that works well on its chosen level. The audience is never challenged—it can only end in one way, with Kinki and Andy Cheung (competently done by Andy Lau) her beleaguered boss, in a clinch.

While magical realism is primarily a South American literary movement, a lot of its characteristics appear in “Needing You”. Magical realism tries to show that opposite states of being can unite. The paradox of the union is what supplies much of the energy in the work. The first scene of the movie is of Kinki praying in a cemetery, creating a talisman of love that will cause the man of her dreams to not only find her but also tell her “I need you”. This charm becomes the central image of the film, bringing Andy and Kinki together even though they aren’t aware of its power. The paradox of opposites is in the dynamism of the ancient Chinese artifact, updated but still powerful in today’s world of intellectual piracy, high-tech motorcycles and zillionaire web portal developers. It doesn’t always work as intended—antique magic combined with the modern world can have startling results, but a white clad motorcycle rider appears just when Andy desperately needs a ride to the docks and the message it contains is what brings Kinki back from the yacht.

“Needing You” could be shorter—Kinki’s nutty, greedy family was a sidelight that just slowed things down and the developing romance between Andy and Kinki took a few scenes too many to develop. But that is merely quibbling. There are a number of excellent scenes—the dinner with Mr. Ko after Andy saves the account, in which he valiantly eats all the very strange food, such as turtle head, so that the weak stomached Kinki doesn’t have to is just one. Another, also centered around eating is when Kinki freaks out when Andy eats a steamed bulls penis and dumps her purse, with the love charm, on the floor of the restaurant in her haste to leave. When she returns all the diners and the staff help her look for it, even taking the trouble to let her check the soles of their shoes to see if it has stuck to one of them.

The cut and thrust of corporate politics, with one sales team (headed by Lam Suet, as greasily cunning as ever) trying to undercut the other is not at all farfetched and the scene toward the end when the head of the office and Lam Suet’s character congratulate themselves because they have a fall guy to take the blame for their misdeeds is very much on the money. The gossip, backbiting and attempts to avoid work are right out of every large office in the world. As has been mentioned, the image of gossip spreading almost like a virus, through the duct work of the building, is quite telling. The shots illustrating this are very close to the shots showing how a deadly virus moves through the ducts of a hospital in the movie “Outbreak”.


Reviewer Score: 7