J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Girls vs Gangsters: Bachelorette Party with Mike Tyson

This bachelorette party movie might not be funnier than Bridesmaids or Rough Night (although for all we know it is), but it can certainly kick those other movies’ butts. Largely, that is thanks to two co-stars with not insignificant screen time: the leather-clad henchwoman played by Elly Nguyen and Iron Mike Tyson. The bride-to-be and her two bickering besties are pretty clueless, but Tyson obviously had fun shooting his scenes with them in Barbara Wong Chun-chun’s Girls vs Gangsters (a.k.a. Girls 2, trailer here), which opens tomorrow in New York.

Xiwen was the sob sister of the quartet of friends introduced in the original Taipei-set Girls, so her engagement is a really big deal. Obviously, her friends have to celebrate with a destination bachelorette party in Vietnam, where Xiaomei will wangle them invites to swanky parties, but never actually spend time with them, because she is supposedly too busy shooting a movie, Of course, nobody gossips about her in her absence, because bridesmaids never do that sort of thing, right?

In this case, rivals Kimmy and Jialan are too busy clawing at each other. Initially, they both compete for the attentions of the mobbed-up funder of Xiaomei’s movie, but Jialan will be okay with losing that one. Long story short, Kimmy loses his heirloom ruby ring and beats a hasty retreat with Xiwen and Jialan. However, when they wake up the next morning, they find themselves naked on the beach, handcuffed to a mysterious briefcase—and Xiwen has a strange man’s face tattooed on the back of her neck.

Speaking of tattoos, the next person they meet is Dragon, a former boxing champ who now runs a beachfront lounge. Guess who plays him? He will help cloth the ladies and facilitate their getaway from the gangsters’ goons. From there, things really become random, as the film starts borrowing plot points from Brewster’s Millions: they must spend a briefcase full of gold bars in twenty-four hours, or else. At least, there are some comical moments involving the difficult disposal of unwieldy precious metal.

It is all pretty shticky, but the sight of Tyson bogeying down with his cute co-stars during the surreal end-credit montages, it is almost worth the price of admission. Believe it or not, he has okay chemistry with Janine Chang Chun-ning’s Jialan. Seriously, Tyson is around considerably longer than a mere cameo, but viewers will still wish the film gave him and Chang more time together. Ivy Chen pouts like nobody’s business, but she still manages to keep Xiwen relatively endearing, while Fiona Sit plays the tough-talking Kimmy to the hilt. Alas, Nguyen is an impressive presence, but she should have been given more action responsibilities.

Basically, Wong pitches the comedy at a level roughly equivalent to Xu Zheng’s Lost buddy movies, falling somewhat closer to the slapsticky Lost in Thailand than the more heartfelt Lost in Hong Kong. The female buddy film might still hold novelty on the Mainland, but the screechiness and cattiness will likely feel dated to Western audiences. Best left to expat bachelorette parties and self-conscious Mike Tyson fans, Girls vs Gangsters opens tomorrow (3/9) in New York, at the AMC Empire.

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