Friday, June 11, 2010

Doubles Cause Trouble with Maggie Cheung

Another Wong Jing production, 1989's Doubles Cause Trouble is a Hong Kong spin on such American fare of that era as Outrageous Fortune (1989).

Bad young actress Zhu Yingtai (Maggie Cheung) learns that she's inherited an apartment after her grandmother died. The catch is that she must share it with her cousin Liang Shanbo (Carol "Dodo" Cheng).

The spacious apartment delights the girls as does the presence of handsome Ben (Poon Jan-Wai from 1985's Let's Have A Baby, among a few other titles that I've reviewed recently). It seems Ben is already sharing part of the large apartment but he's not quite the handsome businessman that he appears to the girls.

When a guy dies in the girls' apartment, funnyman Charlie Cho helps the girls dispose of the body.

Then some bad guys think the girls know where a "national treasure" is and the film turns into a manic comedy.

Nat Chan shows up and he and Charlie Cho provide the moments that feel like other Wong Jing films of this era. Not sure if that's a good thing, actually.

I think trying to relate the plot of this thing in a review would be a foolish thing to do as the humour all comes from the plot's unfolding and the twists and turns along the way.

I mean, Outrageous Fortune was a moderately funny comedy for its time and the plot was not as important as the chemistry between the two leads. And here it's the same thing: Dodo Cheng and Maggie Cheung work well together and while the characters are not that detailed, they are different enough to make this thing less of a chore to sit through.

The scenes where the girls communicate using a secret "blinking" code remembered from their childhood are cute, as is the scene where they wreck a play.

And Wilson Lam as a possible undercover thief (or cop) makes a nice foil for the girls.

The director, too, has one of his many cameos from this era here, this time it's almost a funny one.

Not a masterpiece, but a relatively coherent comedy from director Wong Jing. If Doubles Cause Trouble had been a good 10 minutes shorter, it would have been more of a pleasure. But, as with most 1980s Wong Jing comedies, 93 minutes feels like 120 minutes. Still, this is hyper for a purpose and the things that happen here are no more outrageous than those plot points in Outrageous Fortune, or Midnight Run (1988), for that matter.

Judged from that perspective, Doubles Cause Trouble is a pleasant surprise.

You can order Doubles Cause Trouble on DVD here.

"How many Wong Kar-Wai films do I have to do to make up for all the films I've done with you?"