Contributed By Lim Bijia
Clichés often become clichés because of their mass appeal. These are crowd pleasers that endure through the seasons. It’s no wonder then that film studios often turn to done-to-death movie plots to keep the cash registers ringing—star-crossed lovers, hidden birth secrets, business rivalries as well as lost (and found) childhood sweethearts—Perfect Rivals has all of the above, and then some.
Perfect Rivals opens with an impressive show of the efficient workings and success of the Mei Mei Bak Kwa Shop. Its owner is played by Irene Ang, a tough and capable woman who is business rivals with Chen Hao (played by veteran Hong Kong actor Ha Yu), the owner of the neighboring Hao Han Bak Kwa shop.
Competition and chaos ensue when Mei Mei sends her youngest daughter, Yuan Yuan (Mindee Ong), masquerading as a young man, to Chen Hao’s shop to steal his secret recipe. Yuan Yuan, however, falls in love with Chen Hao’s eldest son, which leads to certain complications, to say the least. Other subplots are thrown in the works, leading to a hodge-podge of story arcs that, while entertaining, do not add to the movie as a whole.
Despite the shortfall, Ha Yu’s turn as the single father Chen Hao who struggles to keep the family together alternates between comedic and heart-wrenching, while Ang’s Mei Mei is entertaining and bears enough pathos to make the audience root for her as the show progresses. Although far from perfect, Perfect Rivals offers enough decent humor and light-hearted fun.