Film Review: ‘All U Need Is Love’ Is a Sincere Love Letter From the Hong Kong Entertainment World to Its Fans
When the Grande Hotel is suspected of being the source of a new outbreak of the coronavirus, the Epidemic Prevention Centre immediately orders for it to be completely sealed off. All of the guests staying in the hotel are forced to undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine. Isolated from the outside world, the people begin to forge bonds as they reminisce over the normal lives that they have lost.
Director: Vincent Kok
Cast: Louis Koo, Tony Leung, Eric Tsang, Michael Hui, Francis Ng, Julian Cheung, Louis Cheung, Michael Hui, Chrissie Chau, Carlos Chan
Country: Hong Kong
Language: In Mandarin
Runtime: 90 mins
To describe All U Need Is Love《总是有爱在隔离》as star-studded would be an understatement. Staring at the sun would be less blinding than the star power here.
The lighthearted comedy is packed to the brim with a who’s who of Hong Kong’s entertainment world. It brings together ten Hong Kong film companies, the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild, and the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers — all in a bid to revitalise the industry. There should be no qualms about if All U Need Is Love will achieve this goal.
While the pandemic remains a central theme, the film plays out like a weekend getaway with old friends. Seeing familiar faces across generations reprising familiar roles to cross paths and reunite never gets old. Frequent cameos (quite literally) behind every door keeps the pace exciting and welcoming. Behind every corner is the sincerity in bringing some levity into these sour times. For fans of Hong Kong entertainment, the film is probably the best weekend escape at the $12 price range.
All U Need Is Love takes place in the fictional Grande Hotel where its staff and guests are forced to comply with a quarantine order after a suspected outbreak. Hijinks ensue.
A pair of veteran actors (playing themselves) find themselves trapped in the hotel after an attempt to escape from their wives. The hotel’s manager learns authenticity from a child. A friendship blooms between two incompetent gang leaders after setting aside their rivalry. The hotel owner plots to escape quarantine. A couple learns to reconcile their differences. The list goes on.
Despite the sheer number of subplots, All U Need Is Love juggles them surprisingly well. The ensemble film largely avoids the common pitfall of feeling like a collection of skits; the narrative flow remains strong even if subplots hardly intersect. It never felt lazy nor relied solely on its star power to swagger towards box office success. Performances all felt earnest. Story arcs, each packed with believable character growth, wrap up satisfyingly and affectingly.
Even the humour never felt overstated. There are doses of slapstick humour but the film never oversteps to discount its pandemic-set premise. However, this does not mean that All U Need is Love is spared from dated jokes and humour that some audiences might consider too lowbrow.
When the humour doesn’t land, the romance and action sequences probably will. Even when horror is thrown into the mix, it hardly felt like a kitchen sink approach. To the film’s favour, its heart-racing stuntwork is shockingly well done, with creativity sprinkled at every instance making full use of the setting.
The romance subplots are a tad more polarising, ranging from fireless to fiery with an equally mixed range of attention in development. However, when attention is given, All U Need Is Love is quite effective in expressing its pillowy intentions.
The film is similarly unabashed about showcasing the sheer number of industry players on board; the credits list is one of the first visuals, ending with a proclamation that All U Need Is Love is made by “people who love the Hong Kong film industry”. In no way is this statement false.
A film set in a luxurious hotel featuring Hong Kong’s top celebrities constantly runs the risk of being too far removed from the tragedies wrought by the pandemic. All U Need Is Love entertainingly completes the tightrope walk with minimal stumbles, presenting a much-needed escape for all.
All U Need Is Love in now showing in theatres islandwide.