Director Peter Chan’s follow-up to his gender-bending comedy “He’s a Woman, She’s a Man” (1994) re-juggles the same theme of sexual confusion with equally pleasing results. There’s nothing new here, but the addition to the cast of actress-singer Anita Mui — and the focus this time around on the femme rather than male side — keeps the concept from running out of gas. Fests who gave the first installment screen time should give this a whirl too. Chan’s latest movie, “Comrades, Almost a Love Story,” shows in Berlin’s Panorama next month.
Story takes up where the original left off, with fan-turned-transvestite pop star Wing (Anita Yuen) moving in with well-known songwriter Sam (Leslie Cheung). The fact that Wing is actually a woman is known only to Sam and his close confidantes, including his ex, Rose (Carina Liu, in a cameo this time round), and his gay manager, Auntie (Eric Tsang, encoring outrageously). When Wing lets slip “I love you, Sam” at an awards ceremony, Sam gets petrified that all H.K. will think he’s gay.
Meanwhile, reclusive former megastar Fan (Mui) moves into the apartment downstairs, falls for Sam and also pals up with Wing. Complications start when Wing asks Fan to pretend to be her lover to ward off suspicions about Sam’s sexuality, and Fan (who doesn’t know Wing is actually a girl) starts getting feelings for her. If that isn’t enough, Fan and Wing star in a movie together, with the former playing a man and the latter a woman.
Pic is filled with in-jokes about H.K.’s campy pop scene and cult of celebrity, with some sharp barbs about the gullibility of fans. This initially satirical edge is unfortunately ditched early on as the sexual confusions multiply, but the slickly assembled movie, which has a more playful tone than the original, easily gets by on sheer star power as the three leads relaxedly do their stuff.
Supporting roles are well filled by Lee Yi-hung as Fan’s loopy lesbian assistant and new star Jordan Chan as Wing’s best friend. The several cameos by industryites include director Ann Hui as an airplane stewardess. Pic took some HK$ 21 million ($ 3 million) last summer, slightly down on the original’s tony HK$ 29 million.