CHINA'S NEXT TOP PRINCESS (2005-HK)
review by Neo
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Following trends and cashing in on the successes is exactly what HK cinema is all about. Whether it is TVB, movies, Hollywood or even real life events, so it comes as a no surprise to witness a carbon copy of the highly rated and award winning TVB series - War and Beauty in The China's Next Top Princess. While spoof or spin off can be interesting or repetitively boring, unfortunately this attempt lies more so at the latter territory. While it is alright to have a lesser plot, but what hammered this flick is the underlying boring first half, expected rivalries and bottom line crap acting. Nonetheless, the second half is surprisingly dark and somewhat interesting which gives life to an otherwise uninspired piece of crap with some hard earned redeeming points.
The movie goes like this: A spoof of the popular American TV show, "America's Next Top Model", the movie tells the story of two girls -- one rich, one poor -- who get involved in palace intrigue in the hope of becoming "China's Next Top Princess".
What contrast between War and beauty and this silly entry is the light hearted manner that the director takes, which in turn dislocate the whole rivalry/jealousy theme into almost shatters. In turn, it causes over the top and sarcastic acting from the promising Isabel Chan who is absolutely capable as expressed naively in Butterfly. The same goes to Race Wong whose talent displayed in Abnormal Beauty prompted Neo to call her - "the next Karena Lam" - both are suitably wasted in a role that requires nothing more than an evil grin and an atrocious smile.
Sometimes, Neo wonders whether he values "a promise" a heck too much, but for someone who have never un-promise any shit, it is all the more frustrating to realise that the word "promise" is fast becoming just another word to cover up lies. This flick deals with the issue of promise and trust - are people who you think they are? As much as I do not want to believe in the power of money, but to the think of it, most of the time that people lose trust in each other comes down a damn shit hole - money and power. Perhaps the saying " money is the root of all evil" isn't just total bullshit, but seeming reality. After all - at what costs is one willing to give for the price of a princess? How evil can one become in the path of power?
Race Wong's acting here is at times laughable and almost to the point of cliché annoying. One must find it immensely difficult to imagine she was the one Neo praised so much in 2004. The same goes to Isabel Chan whose award worthy performance in Butterfly is diminished in a role that is more suitable to those TVB newcomers than an actress of her promise. Perhaps it is the crap performances surrounding Race's sister - Rosanne or maybe Neo's standard is getting looser, Rosanne shows much improvement and her gentleness made her not so pretty outlooks into a damn likable character for the audience to woo and care for. While it is light years away from award worthy, I must admit in my honest opinion that she have improved a heck lot.
Really, this flick isn't as shallow as it seems and in fact underneath all its crap acting, plotline, boring beginning, it hides a deeper message about the fate of being a Chinese's princess. No matter how much power you have, it can so easily be taken away from you, but there are other things in life - love and friendship that will remain forever within our hearts. Despite that, this is still all in all yet another wasted effort and almost a waste of my time. It isn't total crap, but it isn't really worth watching either, but then again I do kind of like Race Wong - even so she cannot save this movie from chucking it into the garage dump right after you finish it.
I rate it 5/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Director: Director: Steve Cheng Wai-Man
Cast: Rosanne Wong Yuen-Kwan, Isabel Chan Yuk-Ling, Race Wong Yuen-Ling, Renee Dai Mung-Mung, Viann Leung Wai-Ka
Reviewed by Andrew (Neo), February 2006