Movie Review: Hello! Mr. Billionaire

The dream of most people, to wake up one day Billionaire or at least everybody thinks to become rich overnight. Such thoughts and dreams are normal because this is fact that everybody wants to be rich. However, the Chinese movie Hello! Mr. Millionaire directed by Fei Yan and Damo Peng offers a unique story of becoming billionaire which is full of humor and comedy. The two are well known for the successful Chinese comedy films in recent years, Goodby Mr. Loser 2015, and body-swap comedy Never Say Die 2017.

The latest adaptation of US writer George Barr McCutcheon’s novel Brewster’s Millions, the story of a hopeless non-achiever who inherits a fortune if he can first prove he can lose a sizeable sum then he would be able to get the whole sum, starring Teng Shen Teng as Wang DuoYu is playing the lead role with co-star Sung Yunhua as Xia Zhu.

Other cast includes actor-director Zhang Yiming, 41, as the lead’s stupid best buddy, Wei Xiang, Wang Chengsi and the younger Chang Yuan as a football trainer, investment adviser and high-minded educationalist. Among those providing small part are Taiwan veterans Zhao Ziqiang and Jiu Kong as two trust-fund managers.

Xihong city, an imaginary city Wang Duoyu (Shen Teng), 37, a goalkeeper for local C-rated football team Daxiang, has finally been sacked by his trainer (Wei Xiang) after accepting a 200, 000 RMB to throw a match. The latest in a series of scandals he’s been involved in, including dressing in drag for a women’s football match.

His best friend Zhuang Qing (Zhang Yiming) threatens to resign from the club, and his offer is gratefully accepted by the trainer. After Wang Duoyu attacks a traffic-accident conman, and the incident is filmed by a passer-by, he’s arrested. However, he’s bailed out by Jin (Zhang Jingguang), head of insurance giant Xihong Life, who informs him he’s been left everything by a long-lost second grandfather (Li Liqun), an insurance billionaire who recently died in Taiwan.

The will stipulates that, if he can spend 1 billion RMB within a month, he will inherit a full sum which is 30 billion. There are some conditions that he must spend every cent of the money legally in Xihong city; must make no gifts or charitable donations; can hire no more than 100 people; must not destroy any valuable investments, like fine art; and must not tell anyone else about the challenge. If he decides not to accept, he will walk away with RMB10 million; if he accepts but fails the challenge, he’ll get nothing.

He buys shares in failing businesses and invests in crazy schemes like “land swimming”. Unfortunately, his shares in the companies boom and the mad schemes are successful, so he appoints Zhang Qing’s old schoolmate Big Brain (Wang Chengsi) as his CFO, hoping he’s as stupid as Zhuang Qing. He also extravagantly courts Xia Zhu, who still cannot understand why he enjoys losing money. But then Big Brain informs Wang Duoyu that he’s just made 1 RMB billion.

This makes him mad, instead of losing the money. In the mean while Xia Zhu was kidnapped and he supposed to be in love with her. The kidnappers demand for huge sum of money or the girl will be killed. In confusion what to do, he decides to give the money and save a life. Here comes the last scene, where the kidnapper tell him that it was also a test, and you earned the overall property and interestingly his second grandfather is Jin, who first tried to bribe him and then put all the challenges to find out if his grandson worth.

Despite some weaknesses, notably the multiple gymnastics that the script goes through in the second half, including a 16-minute football climax that turns out not to be the climax, and a manufactured kidnap finale. Billionaire is still a considerable accomplishment for two film-makers.

This movie is the china box office top movie, earned 1.8 billion RMB in its first week. Even more interestingly it has earned almost four times as much as the movies released with it on the same day.

The 38-year-old actor is in his element as a dodgy, but so far unsuccessful, opportunist who suddenly finds he’s been willed a fortune by a second grandfather he never knew he had ( by a Taiwan veteran Li Liqun). Shen’s straight faced humor is at its best in the numerous sight gags, especially in the first half but he can also handle pun-filled dialogue (like an extensive joke on the heroine’s name when they’re first introduced) and is enough of a real actor to sustain the expected shift in the second half towards the theme of “making a choice between money and humanity”, well-worn as it may be. That’s because the film never takes itself too seriously even when it’s being more serious, something understood by the cast and beneath everything there’s a likeable undercurrent of rather sweet simplicity.

There is also a lack of mature chemistry between the lead roles, Song Yunhua is a young actress compare to Wang Duoyu who is more experienced but both of them delivered their best acting in the movie. It is recommendable and worth watching.

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