In typical rom com fare, the story plays out fairly simple. Sun, who is played by Andy Lau, is only fixed on being promoted but when his promotion is passed over him to a woman named Yi-Long (Gong Li), he realizes his new aggressive new female boss will make his life hell. After an accident where a lamp gets dropped into a bath Sun was talking he wakes up only to realize he can hear what women are thinking. Based off the Mel Gibson film of the same title, this chinese remake is a bit…weirder than that version. You see, on her first day, in order to get the men at the company in touch with What Women Want, she has all the men to take home tampons and lipstick and tells them to try them out. I suppose this was to provide a much-needed woman’s perspective at the male-centric company.
That is what all lead up to the freak accident and shouldn’t even have transpired to begin with. Although a number of sequences fall flat and the transitions between others aren’t always smoothly executed, at least it’s endowed with two game stars. Gong Li is looking as beautiful as ever and Andy Lau doesn’t skip a beat. Most of us will have to admit that it is such a pleasure to have them on the same big screen as it surely satisfies audience members of both genders and thus holding great opportunities to appeal towards a massive audience size. Also this is a romantic comedy that I viewed on Valentine’s Day and since I wasn’t really feelin’ Valentine’s Day I wasn’t too into this film. You can tell that writer-director Chen Daming relied heavily on the Hollywood sensibilities in crafting this film.
In a better movie, stars Andy Lau and Gong Li might have shone a lot more. The offices are generic, the secondary characters undefined, which means there really isn’t any cross culteral references that an Asian film lover can appreciate in this remake. I guess the best part of the film is Andy Lau sings!
All in all, for a rom com that was shown over Valentine’s Day I expected a lot more. I am also tired of all the recent Chinese movie releases to show China only at its very best. Once again, the cities, businesses, cast and everything in the movie is too perfect, certainly more perfect than anything in a Hollywood. But, ending this review on a good note, viewing a person as your enemy wanting to kick her out of the picture until knowing what’s behind her thoughts and slowly falling for her, the whole flow was well built up. In any case, anyone who has seen the original with Mel and Helen Hunt will suffer an attack of almost-instant déjà vu, so faithfully does What Women Want follow its template. Sure, it might look like a benign remake of a mediocre Hollywood reel, but because it absorbs every social code of the original, it’s also cultural colonialism.