Thursday, March 4, 2010

How To Choose A Royal Bride with Joey Wong

A nice bit of silliness, 1984's How To Choose a Royal Bride features a winning performance from beloved Hong Kong legend Joey Wong.

Prince Kangxi (Derek Yee) is set to choose a concubine under the supervision of his Empress mother (Tien Ni). Meanwhile, Joey Wong tells her father (Lo Lieh) that she'd like to go to court disguised as a man, making some joke about the legendary "butterfly lovers" as well.

Bill Tung, from Mother vs. Mother advises the young prince in the ways of love and women.

The young prince ventures to Jiangnan and soon crosses paths with Joey Wong, now posing as a male scholar.

I was watching this and thinking of when Brian chose Joey Wong as his number 2 Hong Kong beauty after Shu Qi. I was surprised at the choice but, then again, I hadn't watched any of her films for quite a few years.

But watching the actress in How To Choose a Royal Bride and I can see what Brian was thinking. Joey is cute and beautiful but believably so. One can imagine seeing someone like Joey on the streets of Hong Kong in 1984; she's not so beautiful, like Cherie Chung, as to be ridiculously out of the ordinary.

So the prince helps rule the court and decide cases in Jiangnan where the magistrate (Wong Ching Ho) is a bit of a buffoon.

I particularly like Lai Yin-Saan as the uncouth beggar chief's daughter who weds a duped young man. There's a lot of comedy business which is s tiny bit hard to follow.

And I was never quite sure what Derek Yee was supposed to be doing in the midst of all this since others call him by his character's real name -- he's not in hiding then?

There's a lot of stuff with the beggar gangs and various factions -- look for Chen Kuan-Tai in there -- and Derek Yee's character briefly see's Joey Wong's character as herself, not in disguise as a male scholar, so he's certainly smitten with the girl.

Then the daughter (Ai Ti) of a general (Ku Feng -- I think) literally ropes Joey Wong's scholar as the daughter wants to marry the scholar even if by force.

The big problem with this film is that there are too many disjointed and disconnected scenes like this one. Sometimes it feels like a sketch film as only one of the main characters may be visible for long stretches of the film, the romance between the two forgotten until it matters in the plot.

You can order How To Choose A Royal Bride on DVD here.