Editor, Asia; Hong Kong, China (@Marshy00)
 Chinese starlet Zhang Ziyi's first foray into the contemporary romantic comedy genre is a mostly successful one, due in large part to her own rather wonderful performance. The story may be somewhat run-of-the-mill, but with plenty of cash behind it, some sure-footed direction from Eva Jin Yimeng and a colour palette to rival SPEED RACER, SOPHIE'S REVENGE offers plenty to enjoy.

Sophie (Zhang) is a kooky, slightly eccentric, but successful Beijing comic book writer who is gearing up to marry her doctor fiancé, Jeff (Korean actor So Ji-sub from ROUGH CUT) only to be mercilessly dumped a month before the big day in favour of film starlet Joanna (Fan Bing Bing). After a period of classic cinematic mourning, during which she divides her time equally between moping around her apartment and spying on her Ex, Sophie is coaxed back out into the world by her friend Lucy's (Ruby Lin) proposal of a book deal, based on her attempts to break up the happy couple and win Jeff back in time to go ahead with the wedding as planned.

Right about this time Sophie meets Gordon (Peter Ho), a Taiwanese photographer, who she takes to be Joanna's former flame and coerces into becoming her partner-in-crime. Instantly smitten by Sophie, especially when he discovers she is author "Little Alex", Gordon happily agrees, only to fall for the effortlessly endearing Sophie and it becomes increasingly clear to everyone that Jeff is not the man for her and that her plan is more obsession than genuine romantic desire.

Co-financed by Beijing Perfect World and Korean powerhouse CJ Entertainment, as well as an investment from Zhang herself, SOPHIE'S REVENGE greatly benefits from its impressive production values. CGI is used to excellent effect here, animating Sophie's emotional disposition and fantastical take on life, using everything from a plague of animated, soul-sucking bugs, to literally tearing the film down around her, in order to show her inner turmoil and hyper-active imagination. Beijing is painted in bright primary colours as a glossy, economically booming playground, with nary a hutong or hawker in sight, populated solely by glamorous, successful urban achievers, clad from top to toe in designer clothing. The wintry setting offers Zhang the perfect opportunity to showcase a huge wardrobe of woolly hats, mittens and various arctic ensembles, which perfectly compliment her character's oddball behaviour and quirky disposition.

Not that she needs such props, however, as Zhang here proves herself to be a more than competent comic actress. In fact, she knocks the role out of the park, making Sophie totally adorable, when she could so easily have been an irksome crackpot. It's an impressive central performance from an actress new to comedy, but displaying seemingly limitless range. Sophie is frequently seen hiding behind sofas, clinging from window ledges, yet never loses her charm - even when, in one particularly amusing scene at the gym, she is wearing the ugliest shell suit known to man. The supporting cast do a fine job. Fan Bing Bing in particular makes a worthy adversary to Sophie's scheming. So Ji Sub - speaking what did not appear to be dubbed Mandarin - is suitably superficial, while Peter Ho let's his hair do most of his acting for him.

The story is nothing new and those familiar with Korean comedies - or who have ever seen an episode of Ally McBeal - will have seen this quasi-animated approach to comedy storytelling before, but for a mainland production, and as a commercial vehicle for its star, SOPHIE'S REVENGE works really rather well. It does run out of steam a little bit in the final act and probably runs about 10 minutes longer than necessary, but for Zhang Ziyi's performance alone, this is well worth checking out. 

Sophie's Revenge

  • Eva Jin
  • Eva Jin
  • Ziyi Zhang
  • Bingbing Fan
  • Peter Ho
  • Ji-seob So
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Eva JinZiyi ZhangBingbing FanPeter HoJi-seob SoComedyRomance

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