This period drama comedy was set during the Ming Dynasty and it began with a tale of a famous carpenter named Lu Ban (Yan Jian Ping) from the State of Lu at the time of Warring States period in ancient China. Lu Ban was an extraordinary carpenter and his carpentry skill was almost magical. At first, he created a mechanical wooden horse for his mother but once his mother rode it, it never came back. Being away from his work, he wanted to visit his wife often. Thereon, Lu Ban invented a wooden glide so that he could fly to visit his wife. His invention worked but then Lu Ban’s father wanted to search for his missing wife using the wooden glide. Without knowing how to use the wooden glide, Lu Ban’s father also vanished. Lu Ban jotted down all his masterpiece and inventions on a manuscript. He realized that even though his carpentry had reached perfection level, it would have a repercussion. The side effect of his creation would cause to lose a moral, intelligence, luck, a limb, or even a life to the creator or the immediate relatives. Thereupon, Lu Ban titled his manuscript as Lack in One.
Moving forward to the Ming Dynasty era, Lu Ban’s descendant and his apprentice were inside the previous emperor’s royal mausoleum. He and his apprentice named Jiang Nanhe (Shi Ning) were able to unriddle the map found on the Lack in One manuscript. It pinpointed them to the royal mausoleum. Lu Ban’s descendant wanted to relinquish his ancestor’s legacy before he exiled himself inside the mausoleum. He then gave Jiang Nanhe the legendary Lack in One manuscript and his pet parrot.
Years went by and Jiang Nanhe made his prosperity selling his mystical rocking chairs in which they could rejuvenate a person’s age back to his or her youth by simply sitting on them. He celebrated his fortune by going to a brothel house owned by Madame Feng (Fang Xi Ting). Just as foretold by his master, bad omen fell upon Jiang Nanhe. He was deceived by Madame Feng and her accomplice, the bartender Liu Lang (Li Yu). Jiang Nanhe was confined inside a cell at a secret chamber within the brothel. Both Madame Feng and Liu Lang presumed that the Lack in One manual contained a secret to hidden treasures.
Meanwhile at the Forbidden City, the crown prince Zhu XiaoTian (Li Wei Lian) was frustrated from his failed attempt to duplicate Lu Ban’s wooden glide that was invented centuries ago. He had a passion for carpentry and with his father’s objection he envisioned to be the finest carpenter in the kingdom someday. In order to achieve his dream, Zhu XiaoTian knew he had to obtain Lack in One manuscript. He sent his royal guards to search for it but to no prevail until his loyal eunuchs, Xiao Zhuozi (Huang Yi Xin) and Xiao Dengzi (Wei Wei) had information regarding Lu Ban’s successor whereabouts.
Zhu XiaoTian and his two eunuchs decided to surreptitiously leave the Forbidden City to search for Lu Ban’s successor and ultimately to obtain Lack in One manuscript. The crown prince masqueraded as a wealthy scholar with his two servants and proceeded to Madame Feng’s brothel. Having no interest of participating with brothel patronage lifestyle, Zhu XiaoTian was in difficult predicament to adjust into his scholar disguise. By sheer of chance, he was availed by Tang Xiao Die (Huang Yi) from further embarrassment. The two became acquainted and they accidentally discovered the nefarious plot of Madame Feng and Liu Lang.
Both Madame Feng and Liu Lang fled to city of Dragon Gate under the pretense of an entertainment troupe. Not far behind their trail were Zhu XiaoTian and Tang Xiao Die. It was revealed that Tang XiaoTian was actually a fellow apprentice of Jiang Nanhe. Further, she disguised herself as a scholar at Madame Feng’s brothel to investigate the disappearance of Jiang Nanhe. Upon their arrival, they found themselves in the middle of groom finding feast for Nan Gong Yan (Deng Jia Jia) hosted by her father, Nan Gong Ao (Li Chang Yuan). Madame Feng and Liu Lang unwittingly had to perform at the festivity and they were coerced to stay at the manor.
In order to infiltrate Nan Gong’s manor to search for Madame Feng and Liu Lang, Zhu XiaoTian and Tang Xiao Die pretended to be the winner of the groom seeking contest to dissimulate their intention. The Nan Gongs welcomed them with open arms into their household. Hilarious events started to unravel within the manor once all parties revealed their hidden intentions for Lack of One manual. None of them knew regarding the repercussion of the cursed manuscript which inevitably brought misery.
Almost Perfect is touted as a US $4.29 million budget production for first time period/costume comedy drama director, Wang Yue Lun. Needless to say, the movie is utter farce to be considered genuinely funny. Weak script and thin storyline in addition with puzzling words reference, it’s a far cry from being entertaining movie. Many of the jokes are labored and certainly it’s borderline annoying.
There is no chemistry to build an ardent romance between the characters of Zhu XiaoTian and Tang Xiao Die. There is no charismatic or likable about any of the actors and actress performance in Almost Perfect. It’s not that the actors or actress in this movie are terrible, it’s the movie that’s poorly scripted. Almost Perfect is more like an epic failure.
Huang Yi … Tang Xiao Die
Li Wei Lian … Zhu XiaoTian
Liu Hu … Governon Hong Gai Tian
Deng Jia Jia … Nan Gong Yan
Fang Xi Ting … Madam Feng
Li Yu … Bartender Liu Lang
Yang Jian Ping … Lu Ban
Shi Ning … Jiang Nanhe
Huang Yi Xin … Xiao Zhuozi
Wei Wei … Xiao Dengzi
Li Chang Yuan … Nan Gong Ao
Chinese Title: 十全九美
Director: Wang Yue Lun
Screenplay: Phillip Ko
Producer: Don Yu Dong, Li Xiang
Director of Photography: Tam Chi Wai
Art Director: Raymond Lee King Man
Image Designer: Li Cai Rong
Composer: Lin Hai
Soundtrack: Li Yu Chun (Fragrance of the Pearl Flower)
Filming Locations: Hangzhou, HengDian World Studios
Release Date: August 1, 2008
Run Time: 1 hour 37 minutes
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