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The Modelizer review: Never a dull moment in Byron Mann’s Hong Kong-style romcom

The Keoni Waxman directorial also stars Rayssa Bratillieri and Julia Nickson, among others

The Modelizer review: Never a dull moment in Byron Mann’s Hong Kong-style romcom

Byron Mann and Rayssa Bratillieri in The Modelizer

Last Updated: 08.53 AM, Jul 14, 2023


STORY: A super-rich casanova enjoys the life of his dreams in the neon city of Hong Kong until he meets a modest girl from Brazil, for whom he is willing to give up everything. 

REVIEW: What starts off like a usual coming-of-age romantic comedy that revolves around a rich playboy, who wakes up with a new girl every morning until one day when he meets a pretty and wise young woman who all at once changes his lifestyle and perspective toward life, American filmmaker Keoni Waxman’s The Modelizer transcends into a beautiful love story with some near-perfect performances.      


Attesting to the much talked about ‘Hong Kong Films’ style of storytelling, where distinctly original narratives from the city are told in English, this Byron Mann-starrer is made with a rather nuanced flair, where almost all the characters are fleshed-out and has a unique trait to themselves. The Modelizer, which is said to be written and made during the Covid-19 pandemic, is also penned by Byron.   

The plot is centred on Shawn Koo (Byron) - a Hong Kong-based business tycoon, who has inherited his parents’ real estate business worth millions of dollars. A luxurious life is what he has got as part of a legacy, and he prefers spending that in lavish parties, surrounded by a bevy of models. Shawn’s cousin Narin ‘Bucky’ Sakpiporn (Nichkhun), who although married, is often seen around as his sidekick, rollicking in the company of young girls. 

Nichkhun and Byron Mann in a still from the film
Nichkhun and Byron Mann in a still from the film

Things turn a little tricky for Shawn when his mother Beatrice Koo (Julia Nickson), whom he meets only once a month and that too on appointment, sat me him down one day to rather threaten that if he doesn’t stop being seen around with foreign models and tie the knot with the daughter of another Chinese business tycoon, he might risk losing the inheritance and be ousted from the family business. 

For someone who is dizzy with his wealth and already has two ‘serious’ girlfriends - Jana Kroplewska (Dominika Kachlik) and Alina Petrenkova (Hana Hrzic) - this was a tough decision to take! Nonetheless, he continues to be the ‘VIP’ casanova in town, who takes pride in living in the ‘world’s most expensive city’.  

In a parallel story, a young Brazilian girl, named Camila Oliveira (Rayssa Bratillieri), has landed in Hong Kong with dreams of making it big in the world of modelling. But little did she know that to live a decent life in this costly city, one needs the backing of a ‘VIP’. However, she refuses to give up as yet and navigates her way in the neon world with the help of Google Translate and a few well-wishers. 

Camila’s path crosses with Byron one day, and they instantly hit it off. Whom he initially thought to be like just another aspiring model in the city, who loves being pampered with expensive designer wear and weekend getaways to the Maldives, bluntly said no to both. In fact, she refused to play by his rule book and instead wanted to know how far he would go to win her heart. This startled Shawn and needless to say, they eventually fell in love with each other. 

Byron Mann and Rayssa Bratillieri
Byron Mann and Rayssa Bratillieri

Although the story lacks depth, unlike regular rom-coms, The Modelizer surprises you more than once with interesting plot twists that keep you hooked on until the end. Every relationship - be it that of friends or family - are delicately woven with a fresh perspective and edge. For instance, the acquaintance that Shawn’s father Wellington Koo (Kenneth Tsang) and Camila share is bizarre and empathetic in equal measure. 

The narrative also touches upon Hong Kong’s dark underbelly, and what it takes when you rub shoulders with the not-so-right people. In a subtle manner, the story sheds light on the curious case of urban loneliness and the vulnerabilities that even successful men have. 

A still from The Modelizer
A still from The Modelizer

VERDICT: Although the chemistry between Shawn and Camila is not the high point of the story, they both manage to win hearts with their respective performances. The Modelizer is a good one-time watch if you are a fan of ‘Hong Kong Films’. It’s got all the masala and thematic elements that entertaining rom-coms make an impression with. 

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