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Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.22%
Worth A Look: 0%
Pretty Bad: 11.11%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 3 user ratings

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Last Woman Standing, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Sometimes, characters being attractive and likable goes a long way."
3 stars

I am tempted, half as a joke and half dead serious, to write this review as six paragraphs of "Shu Qi is extremely pretty", maybe with a different adjective or adverb swapped in every once in a while for variety. I do not do so less because it sells the film short than it does the actress. She is, after all, more than just a pretty face, but it's getting to spend an hour and a half watching her that lifts this particular film from a barely-outlined romantic drama to a fairly pleasant experience.

She plays Sheng Ruxi, a thirty-year-old Shanghai businesswoman who is kind of sick of hearing her mother (Pan Hong) make comments about her not being married, to the extent of walking out of a Valentine's Day wedding reception to go back to the office, where her boss Wang Lan (Hao Lei) is making plans for her own wedding. Ruxi's mother's latest attempt to fix her up is Dr. Bai (Xing Jiadong), a nice but bland-seeming guy in his mid-forties. More interesting: Ma Sai (Eddie Peng Yuyan), the new guy at the office who is paired off with her a lot, though he is five years younger.

There's a refreshing lack of rationalization to why a woman with as much going for her as Ruxi - no makeover is necessary to show she's very attractive, she's not hung up on some former boyfriend, she's not work-obsessed or mean or weird or otherwise off-putting. No, she's just not out actively seeking romance or marriage, and while that's obviously an attitude that her mother can barely understand, it's one that the film commits to in a way that would seem anathema to most romances: Falling in love is just one potential part of Ruxi's life, and it will be great when it happens, but it is not going to be the driving priority behind her decisions until it deserves to be.

That's actually the source of a lot of Ruxi's charm in the movie - it may be a romance, but Shu Qi plays her scenes with Eddie Peng more or less exactly the way she does with Lynn Xiong as her best girlfriend, and not overplaying the flirtiness makes the pair even more fun to watch. There's no excess weight to the silly situations that they get into, and it lets them play their characters as funny and likable with just enough chemistry early on to make for a fun will-they-or-won't-they situation, with Shu especially able to make familiar situations sparkle a bit more with a smile and a sideways glance.

She kind of has to; the screenplay by writer/director (and original novelist) Luo Luo is very thin. She drops Ruxi and Ma Sai into some fairly stock situations, and gets some laughs, but seldom anything that puts them in a situation that tests their love or makes them navigate something tricky. A swing toward the dramatic midway through gives both Shu and the actor playing her father, Jin Shijie, chances to make some nicely heartfelt speeches, but those monologues add a bit of "easy come, easy go" to the film. The movie is also padded out a bit by both Hao Lei as the boss and Lynn Xiong as the friend having plots that seem like they should go a lot further than they need to, maybe contrasting their actual hurt at still being single with Ruxi's somewhat less urgent attitude.

(As an aside, all of them being single as the film starts might explain why the film is being released in America as "The Last Women Standing" rather than the singular "The Last Woman Standing" despite not playing as an ensemble picture at all. It could also be a result of what seems like a very rushed American release, coming about in the same way as some occasionally poor subtitling)

As much as I may joke that I spent most of the movie with thoughts of its star's attractiveness running on a loop in my brain, it's only fair to mention that those thoughts weren't taking the place of "this story is stupid and I don't believe any of what's going on"; Luo Luo and company have made an entertaining enough romance where the nice cast bolsters its strengths rather than hiding its faults. Given that it's her first effort as a filmmaker, that's not a bad result, and it's worth seeing if her next film is something a little more individual.

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originally posted: 11/13/15 08:18:15
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Directed by
  Luo Luo

Written by
  Luo Luo

  Qi Shu
  Eddie Peng
  Hong Pan
  Shijie Jin
  Jiadog Xing

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