Could You Kill My Husband Please (2001)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-02-21
Summary: For Jade Leung fans
“I didn’t find Mrs. Ho such a special woman. Why would anyone kill for her?” asks the police officer investigating the death of Ching Ho, her husband. Which cuts to the heart of the script of this film; Jade Leung, as Mrs. Ho, is in many ways an unremarkable or even disagreeable character. She is jealous of the time her husband spends on his career but fills her own days shopping at Hong Kong’s designer stores—which is what she considers being a housewife. She sometimes acts like the wife from hell. She insists on accompanying Mr. Ho on a business trip to Shanghai where she gets drunk, creates a scene at the airport and insults the head of the office there, who happens to be an extremely attractive and, we assume, competent executive. Her husband has his own flaws—he is aloof and cold to her and doesn’t want to be bothered with her problems.

The movie wants us to empathize with Mrs. Ho. She is the woman in peril, a person being stalked by a psychotic killer who has already murdered her husband. But the police, her best friend and her husband’s former co-workers think she is unhinged with grief. This is one of the huge holes in the script. She is not a sympathetic character, she really doesn’t seem to be in danger and we aren’t shown what she has to lose. We find it very difficult to see things through her eyes and to feel her terror.

“Could You Kill My Husband Please” isn’t a mystery. We see the murder being committed and the person behind it—the one who hired Wu Man-He, known to the police as a professional killer—may as have a big “guilty” sign taped to his back. It doesn’t work very well as a thriller—it is hard to care about the character who is in danger and the two most interesting characters are peripheral to the action. The criminals are all incredibly stupid, no one more so than Ah Hi who embezzles millions from his company but leaves a paper trail in the files—and who is shown very early on to be the only one who could have committed the crime. He has an affair with his secretary who has all the dirt on him but whom he treats with contempt and even slaps around, giving her the perfect reason to turn him in. It isn’t a police procedural—the cops put together the most obvious pieces of the crime but can’t do anything about them. Twice Eddie Ko as the senior police officer on the case sums up what we already know, once to the goggle-eyed astonishment of his uniformed subordinates who may be shocked that he is capable of such intuitive leaps. This move doesn’t work well on any level.

Which doesn’t mean it is worthless. Jade Leung Chang is given the superstar hair, makeup and wardrobe treatment, she is lit and shot almost lovingly and looks like a person that someone for whom someone might betray his country or even possibly his family—a modern day Helen of Troy. Her look ranges from gorgeous to strikingly beautiful; she moves with an easy grace and does a decent job with some really dumb lines. While I hadn’t noticed her to be burdened with curse of great acting ability, Jade Leung does an excellent job in this straightforward role of a woman being driven insane by guilt and fear. The part is badly enough written that the audience isn’t that interested with what happens to her character but can enjoy watching an extremely attractive actress do a professional job of acting.

Michael Wong Man-Tak plays Micheal Wong playing an assassin, which he does competently. When he is not killing people, though, what his character does makes no sense whatever. He has planned the perfect crime but before he carries it out he unnecessarily complicates things by involving someone else in it, an obvious and quite clumsy device that is there only to keep him in the movie. He does get to beat up about eight chopper wielding thugs, using only some handy furniture and his fists, so he is certified as a tough guy. The actor who plays Mr. Ho’s co-worker, the CFO of the Asian division, seems much more menacing and dangerous than the assassin—not sure who this actor is—he is called Ah Hi in the subtitles.

Eddie Ko plays the detective who is tasked with solving Mr. Ho’s murder after first being led to think it was a suicide. Other than the occasional summing up of what we saw immediately before he isn’t given a lot to do, his refusal to investigate the crime showing that Mrs. Ho is alone in her quest.

Two artists with smaller roles stand out. Secretary Lau might be the toughest and smartest character on the screen and the actress who plays her lets the steel beneath the silk show through. A good movie could be centered on her—after the first time Ah Hi slaps her, the audience thinks that she will be slipping a stiletto under his rib cage before long but she isn’t developed any further. The other actress has he thankless role of Li Fung, Mrs. Ho’s best friend, one she carries it off very well.

Recommended only for Jade Leung’s star turn.


Reviewer Score: 4