HIFF Review: “One Night Surprise”

Oct. 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

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REVIEW BY STEFANIE NAKASONE / snakasone@staradvertiser.com

The only real surprise in the Chinese romantic comedy “One Night Surprise,” from director Eva Jin, is how very unsurprising it is.

That’s not to say the film isn’t enjoyable — it is very entertaining with its quirky humor and fun breaks from reality. And the actors, particularly leads Fan Bingbing and Aarif Lee, have tremendous chemistry.


Spotlight on China

United States Premiere

Screens at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18; also 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 at Consolidated Koko Marina 8 and 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at Hilo Palace Theater (Hawaii island)

But like most rom-coms, the overall story line is old and predictable. Every aspect of the film is a little too familiar, done with a very Western perspective.

The film tells the story of Michelle (Fan), a driven career woman who, after getting a little too drunk at her 32nd birthday party, discovers she is pregnant. She can’t remember what happened that night and as a result doesn’t know who’s the father of her baby.

There’s a rather long list of possible fathers: her American boss Bill (Daniel Henney), her assistant Tony (Lee), her best friend’s son Jeb or her rich wannabe suitor Tiger.

Most of the film centers around the triangle of Michelle, Tony and Bill. Quick synopsis: Tony is in love with Michelle, who is in love with Bill, who is pretty much in love with himself (think Hugh Grant’s character, Daniel Cleaver, in Bridget Jones’s Diary).

Throughout the film, Jin interjects very quick and cute fantasy sequences, keeping a light feel to a film that deals with serious choices that all modern women face — do I sacrifice my career for motherhood, should I marry for stability instead of love, do I follow my passion or do what I’m “supposed to do?”

While these issues are addressed, they are done so in a vacuum with no cultural reference. For example, there is almost no mention of Chinese views toward unwed mothers (except for a passing reference to government fines).

This film could have been set anywhere. That universality is what makes it relateable, but it is also what makes it unremarkable.
Click here for more coverage of the 33rd Hawaii International Film Festival.

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