Appropriating American rom-com tropes with such gusto that one can almost imagine a young Sandra Bullock slumming her way through its paint-by-numbers narrative, My Lucky Star is a cutesy Chinese caper cooked up with nothing but old scraps. An animated credits sequence modeled directly after a James Bond opener sets the derivative tone for the ensuing action, which immediately segues into a fantasy of cartoon artist Sofie (Zhang Ziyi) in which she’s a striking secret agent being saved from the clutches of a Catwoman-esque adversary by a wannabe-007. That reverie of style, danger, and adventure is the polar opposite of her day-to-day drudgery working as a Beijing travel agent. Yet Sophie is able to escape her monotonous routine when she wins a trip to Singapore, where she promptly meets actual spy David (Wang Leehom) and, soon afterwards, becomes accidentally embroiled in his mission to stop a villain from acquiring the world’s most valuable diamond.
All of this is staged by American director Dennie Gordon (Joe Dirt) for maximum slapstick silliness, dramatized via myriad split-screen effects and flashy comic-strip transitions that amplify the story’s overarching cartoonishness. That My Lucky Star isn’t serious is less an issue than the fact that its comedic action is so broad, ridiculous, and predictable that it soon feels juvenile, akin to a training-wheels variation on various genre formulas. Its conventions are not only hackneyed, but delivered with a distinctly Hollywood style of glitzy glamour, thereby furthering the impression that the film exists solely for Chinese audiences, who might not yet be bored silly by its stale clichés.
As an import, My Lucky Star plays like frivolous nonsense that, at 113 minutes, also drags on interminably. Copious time is spent on goofy scenarios in which Sofie—thrust into working with David to figure out the identity of the shadowy fiend purchasing the diamond—bumbles about as an undercover agent, posing as a stripper and, later, as a wealthy billionaire. These moments are almost as dim as the romance that blossoms between Sofie and David, all of it predicated on him being the manifestation of her prince-charming dreams, and complicated by the eventual plot of the film’s baddies, who need the diamond to power a gigantic laser that they intend to use to destroy Bermuda.
That sort of random and moronic evil master plan is in keeping with the childish tone of My Lucky Star. While its style becomes less frantic as it progresses toward a drawn-out finale, the inanity of every twist soon becomes an insurmountable burden to any sort of humor. As an unlikely heroine aptly described by an assassin as a “spaz,” Zhang goes overboard trying to deliver some pixie charm to the proceedings. Her manic energy soon becomes just another grating element of this tedious farce, which climaxes with a race-against-time confrontation set at Macao’s faux-Italian Venetian Resort—a fitting locale to end a synthetic film.