Film & DVD Review
Mario works in an ointment company. He spends most of his time flirting with office girls or sucking up to the boss' son. The moment he catches sight of Yuki, a pretty woman who newly joins the company, he makes a bet that he will win her heart. Pretending that he has a brain tumour and that he does not have long to live, he successfully duped her into falling in love with him. Meanwhile, the boss' son has decided to modernise his family business by replacing the obsolescent ointment with a whole new line of breast enhancement products. No sooner have a couple of voluptuous experts been employed than the new product is ready for the market. However, Yuki's fatherhappens to be a maverick medicine man who discovers that the new product his daughter's company is launching not only is not conducive to breast enhancement but it is actually carcinagenic. He also finds out to the devastation of Yuki that Mario does not have any signs of a brain tumour. With a truly effective breast enlargement product her father has invented, she has devised the perfect scheme to revenge against Mario and her un-scrupulous boss...
Beauty and the Breast was one of a small handfull of films that came out in Hong Kong a few years ago, in which the main subject matter was basically breasts. The other, and possibly the only other, one was La Brassiere, another romantic comedy starring Lau Ching Wan and Louis Koo. However, what Beauty and the Breast has over it is that it stars my most favourite Hong Kong actress, Michelle Reis. That tag of being my most favourite Hong Kong actress isn't actually based on her acting ability (although she is a decent actress), it is based on the fact that she is one of the most attractive looking women I have ever seen. Good enough reason for me!
"The cool, checking out women look."
The plot for the film is really quite simple. Michelle Reis is Yuki, a new employee in the famous Piggy Oil company in Hong Kong. Their boss is a womanising bully, with two ass-kissing assistants who are there just to tell him how good he is, when in fact, he is not. One of these assistants is Mario (Francis Ng), a total womaniser, someone who is obssesed with breasts and someone who can tell about a woman's personality just from the size and shape of her breasts. A not bad talent I think! Anyway, he gets issued the challenge of sleeping with Yuki and accepts the bet. His tactic for sleeping with her is to pretend that he is actually dying from a brain tumour, and win her sympathy. The first stages of this go according to plan, but soon Yuki and her office mates learn the truth, discovering that he was being aided by his friend Harper (who is the boyfriend of one of Yuki's office mates, and the other assistant to the boss), and plan to take their revenge.
"Your hair smells so sweet, do you use conditioner?"
In the mean while, the company they work for is planning on ceasing the production of their famous product Piggy Oil, and intend to produce a new product for the market. The Piggy Oil is an all round ointment that appears to be able to remedy practically everthing! The planned new product is called the Booby Booster, and is meant to be able to naturally increase the size of a woman's breasts. The product was bought by two, well, bimbos who were hired by the womanising boss, not for their business credentials that's for sure! However, before buying in the product they failed to test it, and it turns out that it is in fact poisonous... The product has to recalled, or else the company will loose millions, and probably have to close. Gee, I wonder who it will be up to to save the day!
No caption really, just Michelle...
Beauty and the Breast is basically a typical romantic comedy, following all the usual rules of the genre. Bad guy tries to get good girl by lying to her. Good girl has an affect on bad guy, and bad guy begins to develop a conscience. Good girl finds out bad guy was lying to her, so ditches bad guy. Bad guy is remorsefull and has actually become a good guy. Good guy has to try to prove himself to good girl that he is actually good now.
And so on... It is all the usual sort of fare, but hey! It's about breasts!!!
"Torture by clothes peg!"
From the comedy point of view, Beauty and the Breast certainly has a good number of funny moments. Some of which are even laugh out loud ones. One of the funniest, in my opinion, was when *SPOILER ALERT HIGHLIGHT TO READ!!* Francis Ng and Daniel Wu are telling each other that they've grown breasts, and are stripping off to show each other! It had me in minor stitches, as they were both so camp in the delivery of their lines! Another is where you see Mario's good and evil conscience having an arguement which leads to the evil conscience shooting the good one! There were also several other humourous moments in the film, but for me one of the most memorable moments was the opening monologue to the film from Mario. Just so that you can appreciate it, here is what it says.
"All men are born with different desires. You can't lie about that. The first and most wanted desire is to meet the boobs, and such desire grows as you age. It won't diminish not even when you're 80."
And more Michelle...
How many guys are reading this review just now, and are nodding their head in agreement with that statement?! I personally thought that it was a great way to grab my attention at the start of the film.
So Beauty and the Breast has a good number of comedy moments throughout, which is a good thing for a romantic comedy, and also a small plus for it is the ending. Fortunately it is not too sickly sweet, nice and happy, and all rosey. While it is still a happy ending, with things probably having worked out too nicely, it does draw out these points too long to make it sickening. I haven't watched that many rom-coms, but quite a few of the ones I have seen suffered from having an incredibly sickly sweet happy ending, which I personally find vomit inducing. So again, plus marks for this.
"What not to stick in your breasts: Lesson 1."
The acting is also of a good standard here. Francis Ng is, as ever, very good in his role. He is certainly one of the better actors in Hong Kong, and his versatility in the different roles he acquires is very comendable. He perfectly portays the smarmy womaniser, the lying scum-bag, he also switches in an instant to be deadly serious, and believably so. Once things happen to him in the film, he also manages to act incredibly camp, which is exactly what the role demanded. He was definitely the highlight in the acting department. Michelle Reis was also pretty good in her role. Because of her looks she does get a lot cute girl with inner strength type roles, and this one isn't really any different. Now even though I genuinely do think she performed pretty well in this film, as I think she is one of the most stunningly gorgeous women I have ever seen, I will not have a bad word said about her in any way, shape or form. I would have gladly settled for her just appearing on screen, showing her face, smiling and just generally looking good, but hey, I got a bonus in the form of her speaking and acting well! Hmmmmm, Michelle...
Hmmm, even more Michelle.
Oh, where was I? Oh yeah, the rest of the cast were also ok. Some of them were rather over the top, but that is forgivable in a film like this. At least Daniel Wu showed that he can act, despite the evidence from the truly atrocious in all ways, Naked Weapon.
One of the biggest disappointments of the film happened in the scene where Yuki and two of her office mates are having a little pyjama sleep over type thing. They are discussing breasts and men's fascination with them, and begin to wonder what men think of their breasts when they see them. Not really knowing as they haven't seen each other's breasts, they decide a good way to find out would be to show each other their breasts. Great! I thought. With the climatic moment building up and the camera looking straight at them, what happens? The camera angle cuts to a view point where you see nothing!! AAARRRGGGHHH! What a tease!
"Good Vs. Evil, such a titanic battle!"
Ok, so that isn't really something which detracts from the film at all, but I'm sure there will be many people (by that I mean mostly guys) who will mutter a "Damn" or something to that extent when watching that scene.
All in all, Beauty and the Breast is a decent enough film. It has several really good moments that will make you laugh, and there is good acting. It isn't a very deep film though, so aside from the several funny moments, there isn't really anything else memorable about the film (except Michelle). It has the standard rom-com structure, but you do get what you pay for. It may not be near the quality of the nigh on perfect rom-com that is My Sassy Girl, but it is still worth a look if you are into this sort of thing, or Michelle Reis.
Want more Michelle? Well here is some more!
Audio & Subtitles
I watched Beauty and the Breast with the cantonese audio selection, for obvious reasons. It is listed as being a DD5.1 soundtrack, which while being true does not give any indication as to how much the surrounds are used. For this reason I find having this label can be a little misleading at times. Anyway, I'll get to that shortly, first general comments on the audio. On the whole it was decent enough. All speech was perfectly clear, except for some of Lawrence Ng's but I'm pretty sure that is just due to him mumbling and not a fault of the soundtrack. All sound effects are nice and crisp sounding too, with volume levels never being too loud. Now onto my minor rant. Like I've stated, this is a DD5.1 film, but throughout there were only really two or three instances when I was aware of the surrounds, the rear ones in particular, being utilised. One occassion was when it was raining on screen, so the sound of the rain fall was spread around all the speakers. That is fair enough. On another occassion there is speech which comes soley from the rear right speaker, which is good effect as that is the position of the person speaking. However other than those instances, virtually all other audio appeared to come from front centre. That being said, there wasn't really much need for a full surround soundtrack with this film. All in all, the sound was pretty good.
Sod captions when Michelle is in the picture.
The subtitles were also very good. They were removable, in a white font, possibly slightly smaller than I would have liked, but still legible, and they had a black border around each letter, making them legible at all times, even on light backgrounds. There were only a couple of noticable spelling mistakes, and maybe a couple of grammatical errors, but nothing really that noticable. On the downside, there was one line of text which literally flashed on screen reasonably near the start, fortunately it wasn't anything important. Also no text is subtitled. This is a bit disappointing as particularly towards the end when Mario and Harper are in their appartment, the spray paint on the outside and things like that, needs to be understood, so that the viewer knows what is happening. Granted, it becomes clear a few minutes later, but it would have been nice if it had been subbed.
"Look hun, I've bought you a gift - toilet paper!"
Beauty and the Breast comes with an anamorphic widescreen transfer which, on the whole, looks pretty good. Colours appear to be well produced, not looking too pale, washed out or too bright. There are quite a few minor speckles in places throughout the film, however, I only really noticed them when I started to look for them. Before I specifically was looking for them, I didn't notice them at all, so from that I can safely assume that they are not that bad. There is also a reasonable amount of grain in the print. In some places it is more evident than others, but it never ruins the screen at any point, just on a couple of occassions you can see a definite shimmering to parts of the picture. I certainly noticed it a lot more when watching on my computer than on my TV. Detail level looked alright I guess. At no point did I think that the picture was really sharp and detailed but, conversely, at no point did I think the picture looked overly soft either. All in all, the picture I think is good enough looking to serve its purpose.
DVD & Extras
In the extras department, things are a little sparse. There is the film's theatrical trailer, a film synopsis and cast and credits. That is it. Fortunately all the text based stuff is in English and Chinese. Summary - pretty poor.
The final dose of Michelle.
Beauty and the Breast is really just a run of the mill romantic comedy. However, the fact that it is about breasts and stars Michelle Reis is what really endears it towards me! There are quite a few funny moments, and a couple of laugh out loud (but not very loud) moments, which are still making me smirk as I think about them while typing this! If you are Michelle Reis fan then you certainly could do a lot worse than Beauty and the Breast, cause she does look stunning in it. If you couldn't care less about her and are just interested in the film then, 1) Slap yourself in the face, and take a look at her again - she is stunning!, 2) the film is possibly worth a look. It does have its moments, and doesn't get too sickly sweet or sentimental at any point. Certainly, if you are male then the fact that it is about breasts should really be enough to get you watching it!
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