After Sophie (Ziyi Zhang) wins a trip to Singapore, she finds herself in the middle of a billion-dollar diamond caper alongside a handsome spy (Leehom Wang).
Dennie Gordon’s My Lucky Star is a girls’-own adventure caper structured as a modern comedic vehicle for Chinese superstar Zhang Ziyi. Unfortunately, she struggles to 'maintain the zany' for the full 113 minutes asked of her in this, the first Chinese film directed by a American female director.
A prequel of-sorts to the 2009 rom-com Sophie’s Revenge, American director Gordon (the auteur who gave us the guilty pleasure cult-classic, Joe Dirt) rather shamelessly mashes up elements of Robert Zemeckis’ Romancing the Stone, Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther films and bits of James Bond, OSS-117 and Austin Powers in this energetic, imbecilic romp (that somehow took four screenwriters to dream up). The result is a candy-floss concoction that is never particularly gripping but certainly delivers slick visuals and an engaging bunch of performances from a committed cast.
Zhang plays cubicle-bound plane-ticket salesperson Sophie, a socially-awkward, romance-starved wallflower who fills her time sketching comic-art that transforms her world into a vast imaginary landscape of adventure and passion. Suspension of disbelief will go a long way towards your enjoyment of the film.
Having won a holiday in Singapore, Sophie is embroiled in a threat that involves an enormous diamond, her super-agent dream man David (Wang Leehom, dashing if a little stiff) and the villainous Black Widow (Chen Yao). The meagre narrative also stretches to include two characters returning from Sophie’s Revenge in the form of Sophie’s BFF’s Lucy (Ruby Lin) and Lily (Yao Chen).
In keeping with the spy genre’s proclivity for exotic locales, the production employs the prettiest parts of Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau to convey the heightened sense of drama and international intrigue. In addition to exteriors, large and detailed interiors conveying the baddie’s lair are convincingly rendered.
Nearly two hours is way too long for this kind of fluff and Zhang Ziyi’s role as producer perhaps suggest that a tighter managerial hand was required to rein in some indulgent sequences and let the concept really soar. There is an extended period in an adult dance club in which the actress is afforded not one but two slinky, sexy dance sequences; the footage will sell tickets, but the narrative grinds to a halt.
Despite its flaws, My Lucky Star mostly works. It never tries to attain any grandiose stature; it is a silly, giddy yarn of no consequence but with a big heart – and bigger production values – that demonstrates a solid understanding of what easy-to-please mainstream audiences might want to see.