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With: Lau Ching-wan, Louis Koo, Carina Liu, Gigi Leung, Lee San-san, Chikako Aoyama, Asuka Higuchi, Goo-Bi GC, Rosemary Vandebrouck, Stephen Fung
Written by: Chan Hing-Ka, Amy Chin
Directed by: Chan Hing-Ka, Patrick Leung
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Cantonese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 105
Date: 03/18/2013

La Brassiere (2002)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Loving Cups

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

What do you get when the writer of John Woo's A Better Tomorrow teams up with the second-unit director of Woo's The Killer and Hard-Boiled? Another brilliant, operatic, melodramatic shoot-em-up, maybe? Not exactly. Try a comedy about two pig-headed males landing jobs at a bra manufacturing company and leaning about the real power of women. The new comedy La Brassiere opens today at the 4 Star Theater. But don't expect any jokes using the word "uplifting."

Better known for his crime-movie roles, Lau Ching-wan plays Johnny while the romantic lead Louis Koo plays Wayne (Johnny Wayne, get it?). When Samantha (Carina Liu) gets the order from up top to hire men designers for a fresh perspective, the other women are thrilled -- all except chief designer Lena (Gigi Leung). It's pretty easy to figure out where all this is going. The men start out thinking that the job will be a cakewalk and an easy way to meet women. But they soon figure out that a bra is more than just a "ribbon on a present," as Wayne puts it. Of course, the men learn all about humanity and dignity -- and a great deal about bras -- and both find love with the most unlikely candidates.

Still, co-writers Chan Hing-Ka and Amy Chin and co-directors Chan and Patrick Leung keep the picture sparkling. Their use of bold colors and snappy pace keep things moving, and a few solid belly-laughs help. Asked to demonstrate their knowledge of bras, the two men engage in a volleyball match, flipping a bra back and forth in increasingly elaborate ways. The giggling women even set up a net for them. In addition, Wayne possesses the skill to unlatch a bra strap with the quick flick of a finger. Their first humiliation comes when Lena challenges them to wear fake breasts and bras for half a day; Johnny finds it difficult simply jogging across the room to retrieve his endangered palm pilot. Normally this kind of thing falls flat (think Juwanna Mann or All the Queen's Men), but La Brassiere is so darn cheerful it works. Eventually the men come up with their "ultimate bra" design -- the reason they were hired. And if the film weren't so enjoyably tongue-in-cheek, viewers might find themselves offended by the result. (Hint: It has to do with men's hands.)

Hong Kong comedies generally play broader and more farcical than anything we're used to here; they're more in tune with French drawing room comedies featuring characters running in and out of doors, trying to avoid other characters. But La Brassiere was a huge hit in its homeland (a sequel is already in the works), and the fun inherent in its very fabric almost guarantees a good time.

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