New York Asian Film Festival 2021 Review: All U Need Is Love

Written by Patrick Hao

25/100

All U Need is Love is not a real movie. Well that is to say that All U Need is Love is about as real as a movie as The Father of the Bride Part 3 (ish) or the Love Actually Red Nose Day special are real movies. All U Need is Love is a charity special from the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild and the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers in association with the ten major Hong Kong film studios. Made during last summer, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this film’s box office was to benefit local film industry workers. That, in and of itself, is admirable. The final results, not so much.

Shot during the height of the pandemic, this star-studded affair centers on a hotel that sees an outbreak of a virus, leading it to go into lockdown to quarantine for 14 days. From there the various guests of the hotel go into various wacky antics and hijinks. There’s the hotel staff trying to get the hotel in order, a couple who were going to get married, two horndogs looking for an affair, two rival triad leaders stuck in the same place, all in the while the ever-present Epidemic Prevention Task Force is looming large around the hotel.

New York Asian Film Festival 2021

Invariably, it’s a pleasure to see which celebrity is going to show up. Stars would appear in various degrees of importance like Louis Koo, Big Tony Leung, Jackie Chan, Eric Tsang, Michael Hui, Gordon Lam, and even Yuen Qiu as her famous landlady character in Kung Fu Hustle, playing up their various personas. As someone who is familiar but not intimate with many of these personalities, the constant in-jokes just went over my head, even having some actors reprising their roles from previous movies. In that way, this movie seems reminiscent of the charity war bond movies Hollywood used to do in the 1940s like The Hollywood Canteen.

The movie, wrangled together by consummate pro Vincent Kok, has a mixture of genres from action, slapstick, and romance, none of it working very well. As a whole All U Need is Love is like a sampler appetizer platter of what mainstream Hong Kong movies are today. And like most sampler platters, none of it will fill you or be particularly appetizing. The comedy in particular feels dated, tinged with homophobia like it is a National Lampoon movie. The over-the-top reactions of the government to the virus outbreak also feels strangely out of touch especially from the time they filmed it and now, as the world faces rising numbers with the delta strain.

But it is hard to have any strong negative feelings towards a mindless entertainment that is not even really a movie. It is probably more effective than the slew of zoom reunions Hollywood pumped out last year. The aims are admirable and at least it serves as a curiosity piece in the landscape of Covid media. 

All U Need Is Love Trailer

All U Need Is Love was screened as part of the New York Asian Film Festival and is available to watch virtually through their streaming platform until August 22nd.

You can follow Patrick and his passion for film on Letterboxd and Twitter.

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