It won picture of the year and best actress for Faye Wong, in Hong Kong. It is a comedy, but you need to see where it comes from -- the Producer is Wong Kar-Wai, who made, Chungking Express, Days of Being Wild, Fallen Angels, 2046, etc. -- as such, those movies are all "spoofed" along with Chinese fight movies in general. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon would be another example of where the comedy is coming from.
Next Tony Leung and Faye Wong -- you know them from Chungking Express and 2046 where they worked together; are just OUTSTANDING with so much chemistry it is amazing. You can tell they just love each other and had such fun -- which is SO nice to see after the seriousness of the Wong Kar-Wai movies. The other leads I was not familiar with -- but they were just outstanding too .. Wei Zhao comes across as such a "character" as my Dad would say -- her sweetness and comic understanding just comes through.
As with another movie I just love, Happy Times by Zhang Yimou; this comedy as it goes through you really start to just fall in love with the characters and you care about the PLOT suddenly and wanting it to end well for them all in a manner of a good book -- and the story is a real good one.
Think of Shakespeare and how he played comically with male and female role reversals in order to get the context of the plot twist and turns right. Now add the story of a Princess who wants to experience life as a "commoner" and escapes the Palace by dressing up as a man - and you can see where things are going to get funny. Now add to that a brother and sister who own an Inn; the brother had a bad romance and has been rude and cold since, so no one like him - his sister is a Tomboy who can't attract a boyfriend as no one wants to be related to her brother. Now the brother and sister "think" they have a form of ESP so they view the people through each others eyes - so when the Princess (dressed as a man), comes to town the brother decides to get his sister and the new fellow together -- so the two "men" become drinking partners, with the sister being included in all the fun. So you get confusions such as the Princess being suspected of being the young Emperor - now if the real Emperor suddenly arrives on the scene you can see how complex the misunderstandings can be.
This might give a bit of the plot away - but pay attention to the character of Solid Gold Love. He is introduced early on and appears "suspiciously" throughout. For instance he is there partying with them and leaves with them all happy as they wander home, but turns to the camera and gives a very serious look, as he lets them continue on without him. Humm. Another part I almost did not catch onto, was when one character gets his "super fighting power" from people giving him flirty eyes. Very funny.
The original movie was at least 105 minutes long. This release is 90 minutes. The reason, I suspect was to tighten up the story and remove some subplots (jokes) that interrupted the "love story". One loss was a nice dance number (with Faye and Tony) where they are spoofing Chinese Opera - too bad they could not have included that in the "extras".
I highly recommend this movie. The English translations (defaults to being ON) are done VERY well, and the jokes DO translate well. Try to see the 2nd half of Chungking Express in order to get a bit of context.