Billionaire Sam Ching (Lau) – aided by his trusty assistant and chaffeur – makes the short journey to Macau to complete a massive property deal that has irked local residents. Looking to escape from his reputation for just one night, Sam goes to one of the casinos he owns for a little flutter in private. Unaware of who this charming gambler really is, beautiful croupier Milan (Shu Qi) tries to talk her customer out of losing all of his money and ending up like so many who go to Macau’s opulent gambling parlours. The tycoon is drawn to Milan’s forthright nature and, not surprisingly, beauty and contrives more and more situations for him to meet her.
The only dark cloud on the horizon is whether or not Sam’s real identity will help or hinder his plans to woo Milan – the latter appears more likely as she reveals great scorn for whoever the mysterious billionaire is who is disrupting her home community. Sam looks to his two best friends for assistance, but both also have fledgling romances to navigate and obstacles to overcome.
It rarely fills my heart with sunshine to write – and try to expand upon – the synopsis of a typical rom-com and ‘Look For A Star’ is about as typical as you’re likely to get. Released for the Chinese New Year – never a period when anyone usually expects masterpieces to issue forth – this is a glossy vehicle for the ageless Andy Lau and, of its kind, it really isn’t too bad. Shu Qi is a very attractive love interest for Lau, managing to balance her quirky side with her stunning looks and enliven what is a perfunctory storyline.
Andrew Lau photographs Macau with the adoring lens of a father filming his child’s first school play, though the slick presentation does distract through the quieter moments. However, the most opulent aspect of the production is the two-hour running time, 120 minutes that should only ever be used on the very best of the genre. ‘Look For a Star’ isn’t in that bracket and so, as it drags itself to the conclusion, past numerous false dawns, the pace gets stuck in cinematic gridlock. The film does have three love stories to rely on, the other two proving to be strangely more engrossing than the main storyline proves to be. Nevertheless, where Andrew Lau needs to be ruthless he ends up being profligate and so the grand denouement is sorely lacking a proper emotional punch.
‘Look For A Star’ will be welcomed by the legions of Andy Lau fans who are keen for the star to return to a genre he dominated at the end of the century while Macau’s tourist board will be crying tears of overwhelming joy over how beautifully shot the territory is. The rest of us will be distracted for a while, fidgety as 100 minutes approaches and exasperated as the dvd timer shows that nearly two hours have passed.