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2 Become 1

As rom-com plot devices go, breast cancer is pretty low on anybody's list but, against all expectations, in Hong Kong dramedy "2 Become 1" it actually works. Law Wing-cheong adroitly juggles the deadly serious with the comical. Pic delivered impressive biz during local release in March, and Asian-themed fests should definitely take a look.

With:
With: Miriam Yeung, Richie Jen, Justin Lo, Lam Ka-tung, Wu Yujun. (Cantonese, English dialogue)

As rom-com plot devices go, breast cancer is pretty low on anybody’s list but, against all expectations, in Hong Kong dramedy “2 Become 1” it actually works. Law Wing-cheong — a regular cutter for helmer Johnnie To and sometime helmer (“Running Out of Time 2”) — adroitly juggles the deadly serious with the comical. Pic delivered impressive biz during local release in March, and Asian-themed fests should definitely take a look.

Man-hunting with her buddies at a Hong Kong bar, independent advertising exec Bing (Miriam Yeung) catches the eye of handsome V (Taiwan actor-singer Richie Jen). After some rapid-fire repartee, the pair repair to Bing’s home, where V clutches Bing’s left breast and recoils when he realizes she has a lump.

Despite V’s protests that he’s actually a doctor, Bing is insulted by his apparent rejection and kicks him out. Smitten and honestly concerned, V pursues Bing in the following weeks, even as she does her utmost to remain in denial about possibly having cancer.

Alongside pratfalls and quick-paced gags that will be comfortable for fans of Hong Kong comedies, story takes time out to reflect on Bing’s dilemma. When cancer is confirmed, she initially eschews mastectomy and looks for other options. Alternative medicine practitioners (of which Chinese cultures have many) may object to the plot’s take on their herb-wielding colleagues, but the pic clearly indicates that emotionally vulnerable cancer patients should be wary of panacea promises.

Yeung, who was a registered nurse prior to becoming an actress, gives a convincing perf as the feisty career woman and builds nicely on her challenging turn as the aging TV star in Fruit Chan’s “Dumplings.” Jen is serviceable as the medically trained beau, and supporting actors hit their marks professionally.

Director Law keeps the yarn moving at a brisk pace, while never trivializing the subject matter or Bing’s problems. Songs supplied by singer Justin Lo (who also makes his screen debut) are standard Canto-pop, but fit the inspirational message being pushed. Other credits are pro.

2 Become 1

Hong Kong-China

Production: A Media Asia Films (Hong Kong)/Beijing Silver Dream, China Film Media Asia (China) presentation of a Milkyway Image production. (International sales: Media Asia, Hong Kong.) Produced by Johnnie To. Executive producers, John Chong, Xue Guizhi. Directed by Law Wing-cheong. Screenplay, Fung Chi-keung, based on a story by Ivy Ho.

Crew: Camera (color), Lai Yiu-fai; editor, Law; music, Ben Cheung; art director, Raymond Chan. Reviewed at Hong Kong Filmart, March 21, 2006. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Miriam Yeung, Richie Jen, Justin Lo, Lam Ka-tung, Wu Yujun. (Cantonese, English dialogue)

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