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絕世好賓 (2004)
Driving Miss Wealthy

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 03/30/2013
Summary: Crazy. Zany, Vibrant.

Lau Ching-wan is one of the best comedy actor's working in Hong Kong movies. Director James Yuen made a fine madcap comedy film with a life lesson blended neatly into the story. The cast is full of some funny comedy stars that make the proceedings fast moving and compelling. Crazy costumes and zany wigs make for some vibrant visuals.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 07/17/2009
Summary: world's best filipino!

tycoon feng (chow chung) employs mario (lau ching-wan) under the false pretence that he will be his bodyguard: in fact, he is to pretend to be filipino and work as a driver for his daughter, jennifer (gigi leung). but, it's not quite that simple. after spending a few days witnessing jennifer's excesses, feng fakes a heart attack, his assistant assumes control of his estate and jennifer is cast out of the family home to fend for herself, with only mario for company. will this extravagant lesson teach jennifer the value of money open her eyes to the real world? i'm sure you can probably guess...

considering that the same director and writers would, a year later, go on to churn out the excellent 'crazy n'the city', one can only assume that 'driving miss wealthy' was them grasping the opportunity to exorcise all of the tired, lame, kinda racist, comedic guff that they had stored in their collective bowels. it really isn't very good at all, but i can't say that i wasn't entertained. even though a lot of the material is just kinda lame, there are a few decent moments of comedy and drama, which show the seeds of something better trying to break through.

then, of course, there's lau ching-wan, who seems to be able to make the most of whatever he is given; even when that's just speaking cantonese with a heavy accent for questionable comedic value. whilst gig leung is not without her charms and is certainly watchable as the bratty lead.

not good, but a diversion of sorts...

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 08/25/2008

We start promisingly enough with old pro Hui Siu-Hung doing his exasperated best to set things up. Lau Ching-Wan as Mario was his assistant and but is now reduced to cadging employment from his old boss as a member of a police line-up. He is sent to an interview for a position as bodyguard for a reclusive billionaire. The other applicants (including an Iraqi war veteran still in combat fatigues and a pretty boy in a lavender sweater with pushed up sleeves) are eliminated but a quick check of Mario's background finds that he isn't qualified for much of anything. Since the billionaire's daughter needs a driver who must be Filipino and speak bad Cantonese, Mario's complete failure in imitating an Indian and a Thai national--who happens to be a boxing champion--means he is perfect for the job. He immediately switches from what one assumes is perfect Cantonese to a strange sounding pidgin language, apparently a broad caricature of the way a Filipino would speak. It was like watching Denzel Washington become Stepin Fetchit.

So "Driving Miss Wealthy" is a comedy whose humor is based on an immigrant domestic servant trying to speak the local language. The extent of the ineptitude of the filmmakers is shown in scene immediately after Mario and his employer, Miss Feng, have come from a beauty shop. She is sporting what could only be called a Chinese Afro--think of Agnela Y. Davis, the U. S. radical, circa 1971--and he has acquired a set of long beaded braids that are probably supposed to be dreadlocks to make him look like a Rastafarian.

Ethnic comedy is tricky but it can be done. A group making fun of itself can be hilarious: Robert Townsend's "Hollywood Shuffle", an acerbic look at African-American culture which is also an excellent send-up of the movie business works on many levels; John Cleese was at his comedic best when showing the world his view of uptight Englishmen; "Divorce, Italian Style" goes way over the top in depicting Sicilian machismo and Italian bureaucracy. Making fun of a racial or ethnic group other than one's own can be a bit of a minefield. Even viewing "Driving Miss Wealthy" from outside of its cultural and linguistic world it seems at best lame and at worst dreadful. Not as bad as, for example, the way New Guinean people are shown as not quite as smart as gorillas in "Bruce Li in New Guinea" but in the same universe.

Much could be forgiven if this was a real romantic comedy in which opposites attracted, lessons were learned and true love blossomed in fallow ground. A few sparks fly between the stars. Gigi Leung has a few scenes in which her confused/frantic/semi-demented character comes through and Lau Ching-Wan seems incapable of giving a bad performance even with such threadbare and shopworn material. The poor little rich girl learns the meaning of true friendship while living in the slums and turning rats into pets but ultimately this movie is a waste of time. There are some funny outtakes/bloopers that run under the final credits that are worth watching.

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 08/24/2004
Summary: Anesthetic Comedy

"Driving Miss Wealthy" is an anesthetic comedy, in that you go numb watching the movie. Director James Yuen has come a long way since the dreadful "Every Dog Has His Date," a painfully unfunny work that still give me the willies. In "Driving Miss Wealthy," Yuen takes the tired theme of a naive and spoiled rich girl (Gigi Leung) who is given a lesson in life about the value of a buck. Lau Ching Wan is on hand as the jack-of-all-trades, playing a chauffeur, co-conspirator, and lesson giver in Gigi's remedial studies of human nature.

"Driving Miss Wealthy" is diverting for the most part, with some humour, but not many laughs. The main attraction is to see Lau and Leung play off each other. Since the plot has been rehashed countless times, there really isn't much of a payoff as viewers see what's coming a mile away. Basically good harmless fun, but be aware of the anesthetic effect while watching this movie, which can induce a prone, couch potato-like coma.

Reviewed by: barrst
Date: 07/19/2004
Summary: May be funny if you speak Cantonese

Sean Lau Ching-wan's character, down on his luck, takes a job as a bodyguard disguised as a Filipino driver, driving (and protecting) a spoiled rich girl played by Gigi Leung.

Much of the humor would have to come from Lau Ching-wan's speaking pretend poor Cantonese, because the movie doesn't contain much else that's funny. The blame has to fall on the script, as both of the main stars (and many of the secondary ones) have done good comedy in the past.