Movie Review: Natural Born Lovers/天生愛情狂

13567249879135680014

Patrick Kong’s Natural Born Lovers was released in 2012. Not even Annie Liu in a nurse’s uniform could entice me to watch it in the cinema. But I bought the DVD to do a review. 

 So now I know I was right not to watch it.

 Julian Cheung plays Tayler (e not o), a former child star who now runs a cake shop. We’re told he’s a child star, then it’s abandoned as a plot point.

What a script.

Annie Liu is Bobo, a nurse whose emotional attachments make Velcro weep with jealous inferiority.

Boy meets girl, girl gets possessive, boy gets drunk, they break up.

But it’s a Patrick Kong movie. It can’t be that simple.

Or that well-done.

To be fair, I actually really enjoyed the first 30 mins of Natural Born Lovers. But it’s a Patrick Kong movie.

So I knew it would sh*t the bed, I just didn’t know when.

I didn’t have to wait long…  only about 5 minutes. Well, like I always say (or at least said this once). ‘Do unto directors as they do unto you.’ Yeah… That’s a scatological reference. A sh*t gag, if you will.

I will.

But that’s not only fair, it’s apropos. Because at 35 minutes, we get a sh*t joke. I don’t mean a bad joke, I mean a joke involving sh*t.

That’s the initial bonding moment between these two loathsome characters.

Bobo tricks Tayler into helping her get her boyfriend (and his wife) to eat sh*t. Does Tayler run screaming from this criminally miscreant freak? Of course not.

It’s a Patrick Kong movie, after all.

He runs toward her.

Yeah. When I meet a girl who gives her ex-boyfriend a cake with sh*t in it… that she fooled me into helping make… Oh yeah, I wanna hit that. Crazy in the head…crazy in the bed.

From what I’ve read.

What he gets is a psycho, whiny nutjob who switches between Cantonese and Mandarin for no discernible reason. But that kind of ill logic is par for the course for the man who brought us The Best Plan is No Plan, a film named after his directing manifesto.

I can sum up Natural Born Lovers in four words: Same sh*t different movie. Tedious, belabored flashbacks, typical and pedestrian twists, and an approach to logic and narrative that even a koala bear would find lazy. Blurred vision doesn’t mean love. It means diabetes. Or an aneurysm.

Trust me, I know this.

This script is quite literally developmentally disabled. Because it does not develop, and the responsibility for that lies with the writer and director. Scenes or plot devices are set up, and how are they resolved? They just get resolved.

By the cheapest, most asinine means.

I can picture Patrick Kong saying “Oh, I’ll just make some stupid sh*t up.” Then for the next setup, he just makes up more stupid shit. 

If Patrick Kong expended any energy on this story, I’d be shocked.

The ‘Memory Cake,’ that lets you remember why you love a person (or some sh*t). How does it do it?

You sad little peon, you only paid for a ticket to watch this movie. How on earth do you have the temerity to think that entitles you to an explanation of the film’s major plot device?

Really? Hey Patrick; k*ss my shit whistle.

Patrick Kong is a popular director with Hong Kong’s young people.

That’s a hell of a segue, ain’t it?

I don’t understand why young people love him so much, since he insults their intelligence damn near every time he makes a movie. 

To be fair, I don’t have any problem with Julian Cheung or Annie Liu’s performances. They’re both watchable enough, and I would hate for anyone to think I blame either of them for the mess that is Natural Born Lovers.

I should also say that there’s one scene that was filmed in the lobby of the Dynasty. But don’t get excited.

 If you think I’m doing a review bonus for this piece of sh*t, you’re out of your frigging mind.

 At least the annoying women who work in the cake shop weren’t a girl group. I’d have definitely gotten blurry vision.

And not from the cakes. 

Movie Review: Run and Kill/烏鼠

images

Run and Kill, let’s face it, is pretty catchy title for a documentary about cheetahs.

But Run and Kill isn’t a documentary. Thank God.

Director Billy Tang made some Category III classics like Dr. Lamb, Brother of Darkness, and Red to KillHe also directed Raped by an Angel 5.

Run and Kill is the story of a man who drinks too much one night and makes some bad decisions. 

When that happened to me, I woke up with gonorrhea… but never mind.

Fatty Cheung is a nice guy. He works hard at the propane shop he owns in Kowloon City. He’s a good father to his little girl, and a loving husband to his wife. 

Unfortunately for him, not everyone in his marriage is so virtuous.

He catches his wife cheating, and like many people, blames his liver and proceeds to punish it with tequila. While blind drunk, he meets some unsavory people who are as evil as he is dumb, and pretty soon his wife is dead. And that’s only the beginning of his problems.

The DVD is made from a theatrical print, so the subtitles are burnt in. Sometimes they’re hard to read because of the background, and sometimes they fall off the bottom of the screen. But bad subtitles are the least of what’s wrong with Run and Kill.

I don’t mean it’s a bad movie at all. But this movie is wrong.

The opening of the movie is so cheery and nice that you just know terrible things are going to happen. If it happened later in the movie you could call it comic relief… but there’s no relief from this story.

Run and Kill is five minutes of laughter and happiness followed by an endless downward spiral into misery, depravity, violence and insanity.

Kinda like my marriage. But never mind that.

Run and Kill has all the elements of a classic Category III film: bizarre story, frenetic pacing, fast editing, a reedy synthesizer soundtrack, bottomless magazines in the guns, Danny Lee as an ineffective cop, and Simon Yam as an over-the-top psycho who never blinks.

A more unique Category III gem in this film is watching a prepubescent girl sitting on a toilet pinching a loaf.

Who says these films have no socially redeeming value???

If nothing else, Run and Kill is the greatest anti-drinking PSA ever made. It’s also fun to watch Kent Cheng in a pretty unique role, experiencing things you can’t imagine anyone going through. His responses and his behaviors are almost as gripping as one of the film’s most revolting props. It’s not a realistic representation, but it’s still absolutely horrifying by implication.

You know what it’s supposed to be, and it’s something terrible.

 Run and Kill is one of those movies that are memorable and important not so much for the story or the filmmaking, but just for the content. There are things that you will see and hear in this movie that you will never see anywhere else. Probably for legal reasons.

A lot of times people ask me about movies, and to be honest sometimes I forget that I’ve seen a movie until they remind me of a certain scene  or plot twist. Run and Kill is not one of those movies. I will always remember that I’ve seen it, and so will you.

I can easily recommend this movie. Like I said, it’s not the greatest movie ever made, but it is one of the most memorable.

Movie Review: Home Sweet Home/怪物

Home_Sweet_Home_poster

I saw this movie in the cinema in 2005. I bought the DVD a few years ago, but hadn’t seen it in a long time. Until I watched it again for the review.

Soi Cheang directed Home Sweet Home, the story of a small family who move into a new flat only to discover that something… strange… is going on.

Shu Qi plays May, a woman married to Alex Fong the Elder.

Their new flat is palatial by local standards, which honestly made it a little hard for me to feel bad for them.

But that’s just because I’m a terrible person.

These two people have a son, a cute little kid who also catches the eye of the estate’s most eccentric resident, played by Karena Lam… and five pounds of latex.

Which makes it sound like she was playing Dirk Diggler, but that’s not my point.

She plays a scarred, filthy woman who lives secretly in the ventilation system of the estate for reasons that eventually become plain.

I can’t really say it becomes clear, but at least there are no mysteries.

Matt Chow plays one of the neighbors, a group who display a remarkably ambivalent set of responses to their new neighbor.

On the one hand, they are concerned and want to help out.

On the other, they have no qualms about telling her she’s batsh*t crazy and that her histrionics might bring down their property value,  so knock it off.

Shu Qi doesn’t get much help from the police either. They’re diligent, and they discharge their responsibilities in a professional manner.

That said, they’re not very smart. That’s no reflection on their leader, played by Lam Suet, who must balance the needs of the rest of the people against the increasingly bizarre and unsettling demands of May.

But she needs the help, because for reasons I didn’t understand, about halfway through the movie Alex Fong ends up in the hospital, where he had the rest of his role surgically removed.

The whole movie struck me as odd, though not always in a bad way. The pace of the story, the way it’s structured, the way it unfolds, was just very weird. Eight minutes into the movie we get big scary things that seem like they should have happened much later.

There’s a little girl with a yoyo who, as far as I can tell, is a minion of Satan.

Because that’s the only explanation that makes any sense.

The only mystery of Home Sweet Homis wondering what the mystery of the film will turn out to be.

r-told movie come across as overacting here.

At times I could tell that they were trying really hard, but it just came off as scenery chewing.

There were plenty of logical lapses that didn’t make the actors’ jobs any easier.

If you’re trying to calm your child down because he’s just survived a kidnapping attempt, don’t tell your husband about the horrible monster you saw in front of your child.

The little kid’s not a great actor, but frankly you can’t really expect a child of that age to do this role convincingly.

He’s also an extremely strong kid if he can push his mother away like he does.

He didn’t always seem very scared, but I can understand that.

If I was scared of disfigured and insane women, my sexual history would be much shorter. But never mind that.

Movie Review: Crossing Hennessy/月滿軒尼詩

Crossing-Hennessy-2010-Chinese-Movie-Poster-One

Two people are brought together by their parents, who are afraid they’ll never get married.

Jacky Cheung plays Loi, an apparently middle-aged man with no real direction in life. Luckily for him, his widowed mother runs a successful appliance shop in Wanchai. He’s an only child, so his future is pretty set.

Tang Wei plays Oi Lin, whose parents also run an appliance shop in Wanchai. She has a boyfriend, Xu, played by Andy On. But Xu is a bad guy who bounces in and out of jail more than Old Dirty Bastard.

ODB

Loi is no angel either; he kind of takes up with his newly-divorced ex-girlfriend, played by Maggie Cheung Ho Yee.

Paw Hee Chin plays Loi’s mother, and she chews up scenery like a piranha on crack. She has a tumultuous relationship with Ching, her accountant, played by Danny Lee. He dotes on his dog so much that if we didn’t know he had a girlfriend, you’d think he had a boyfriend.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

He also enjoys talking to Loi’s aunt, played by Mimi Chu. But that’s not how her sister sees it, of course.

These three veteran actors make Crossing Hennessy worth watching, if in fact anything does. Because the story isn’t really told very well.

It’s hard to make a character-driven film when none of your characters are especially likable, interesting, or developed beyond trite thumbnail sketches. It doesn’t matter how well they’re acted, but it does matter when they’re hard to tolerate. Jacky Cheung is too old to play Loi convincingly, and it doesn’t help that he plays the character much too young.

The characters are all stereotypes who conveniently lack certain inevitable realities such that the narrative can move where the writer/director wants it to go.

thangduy19011014

Example: Ex-cons with a penchant for violence who express their emotions by trashing their apartments don’t miraculously exempt their girlfriend from that violence. Except in trite, hackneyed movies.

Andy On deserves credit for at least being the most intentionally dislikeable character. He’s the most convincing of the bunch, as a psychotic ne’er-do-well that (miraculously) sees what a pile of sh*t he and his life are/will be and
selflessly pushes away the one woman who really loves him.

Cue the violins, eh?

Speaking of which, how come every local movie that wants to pitch itself as indie or arty always has the same music?

And On is convincing in his role, and manages to make it realistic without going over the top.
I can’t really say that of anyone else in the film.
But I think the blame lies more with Ivy Ho, whose direction of her own screenplay leaves me wishing that she and her characters crossed Hennessy against the light.

This isn’t a good movie. But it’s entertaining in its own way. It’s a lot of fun to watch the actors, even as you can’t really believe the story. Crossing Hennessy is fluff, but it looks nice and it’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s fun to watch it simply as an exercise in viewership. If you’re in the mood for a very movie movie, then this is a good film to watch.

If you go into it expecting a gripping, realistic drama, you might be disappointed.

Movie Review: Twilight Online/恐怖在線

TOLNew_01_1405324314

Edmond Poon is a ‘Horror DJ’ who hosts Twilight Online, a local radio program dealing with supernatural phenomena and other fictional deceits.

Oooh, did I say that or just think it?

The radio show is just one real-life thing in Twilight Online. Another is a 2003 bus crash near Tuen Mun that claimed nearly two dozen lives. A third is a 2013 suicide at Yau Oi Estate where the woman wore a red dress and jumped to her death on the day of the Ghost Festival.

Writer/Director Maggie To has been a production manager for years, but this is her directorial debut. She’s assembled a varied and impressive cast for the film.

Eddie Cheung Siu Fai is a great actor. We’ve seen him for decades in supporting roles, and he’s one of Johnnie To’s regulars.

He’s also a very humble and self-effacing man; I once asked him for an interview and his response was to ask me why on earth I wanted to talk to him.

He plays Inspector Gu, a no-nonsense cop who’s given an assignment to look into sightings of a woman in a red dress jumping to her death at Yau Oi Estate. The weird thing is, people keep reporting the same woman jumping on consecutive nights. 

CheungJohnTOL_21_NAL8736_lo28229_1406621345

Inspector Gu is aided in this investigation by Bee, an eager young rookie played by Babyjohn Choi, a promising young local actor.

In dire need of a better English name.

It’s very entertaining watching these two act out their characters, because they’re entertaining, believable, and engaging.

A parallel story involves Edward Poon leading a group of listeners on a paranormal expedition to an ostensibly haunted primary school that is the supposed home of a ghost from the bus crash. The expedition is led by radio personnel and a spirit medium, played with typical exuberance by Siu Yam Yam.

TOL_M8A7644_gropu_1406621361

She’s kind of found a niche lately playing these roles, and it’s a lot of fun to watch them. Tagging along on the expedition are four schoolgirls and their teacher, whose fiancee may or may not be the ghost in the school.

I don’t mean he’s engaged to a ghost, I mean his fiancee died on the bus and…

He was invited along on the expedition by his teenaged, female students, and the fact that he accepted is the most believable piece of fiction in this entire film. 

I don’t mean it’s believable he would go, just that everything else in this movie you are asked to believe is supernatural in nature.

So the fact that this idiot would put himself in professional jeopardy so blithely is comparatively easy to believe. But at least he can say (and we can see) that his motives are not prurient. It may help that his students are played by three members of Super Girls, Hong Kong’s newest gaggle of manufactured dingbats.

E68EA2E99D88E59B9BE5B091E5A5B3JESSICAE894A1E6988EE88AB3E38081YANNYE999B3E7A98EE6ACA3E38081AKAE8B699E685A7E78F8A40SuperGirlsE58F8AKabbyE8A8B1E99B85E5A9B7_1406621379

Their ‘brand’ is so brutally pimped that their English names appear in the credits with @ Super Girls tacked onto it. Because you should never miss a chance to push the brand. The fourth classmate is played by Kabby Hui, who also appeared in May We Chat. These young women may be able to sing.

I don’t know since I place listening to Super Girls rather low on my to-do list, right after flossing my perineum with a chainsaw.

Which I would much rather do than having to watch them attempt to act again. Quite simply, they’re not good at it, they’re not convincing, and they annoyed me. One reason that happened is because they were so handily out-acted by Eddie Cheung and Babyjohn (ugh) Choi.

But you don’t a lot of experience to act well. Fish Liew, the actress who appeared in Doomsday Party in her birthday suit, has a small role as a classmate, and comparatively speaking beats the super girls like a bat made of Kryptonite.

_M8A9313_1409555526

She was believable, effective, and entertaining in a very small role. Then, luckily for her, she got the hell out of the movie.

It’s a shame, really, that some good acting and a few good story threads end up lost in this narrative miasma. 

That sounds uncomfortable.

At times it’s hard to tell if the scene is being played for laughs or being serious.
There’s a good movie in here somewhere, but between the timeline gymnastics, the flashbacks, the cheap jump scares, excruciatingly drawn out recaps and other directorial mishaps, mishandlings and mistakes, I ended up just feeling bad for most of the cast.

Not Super Girls though. F@#$ them.

The ‘resolution’ of the story turns in a nice China-friendly, science-heavy explanation that debunks any and all supernatural occurrences in the movie. Then there’s a sponsor title card. So we know the movie is over. Then there’s an epilogue that brings the ghosts back.

TOL_M8A9131_lo_1406621368

The entire movie is disjointed, jarring, and filled with missed or half-realized opportunities. Mixed in are some good moments and some good performances. But ultimately it’s like looking at a box full of jigsaw pieces and being asked to see the picture. I just couldn’t do it.

You know what? I have to be fair, and honest. In one way, this movie achieved its goal. After I watched Twilight Online, I was walking around Mong Kok. I was walking through the Yin Chong St. wet market, and I saw a woman in a red dress standing next to a table. As I walked further down the block, I just had to stop and see if she was still there and therefore wasn’t a ghost. She was still there. She wasn’t a ghost. 

Movie Review: The Fortune Buddies/勁抽福祿壽

fortune-poster

Ooooh, a leftover New Year film from TVB! With TVB actors!

I actually enjoy some heavily local cheap comedies, and I especially like them around Chinese New Year. Traditionally, many new year films are silly, light-hearted fluff that are meant to distract people much more than edify them. But while The Fortune Buddies was made to be released during Chinese New Year, it was released in August of 2011, not January.

And let me tell you, there is almost nothing as bad as watching a New Year movie outside of the New Year bubble. The silliness isn’t entertaining.

It’s infuriating.

I knew this film would suck. How did I know? It’s TVB.

It’s really painful, sitting in a cinema and seeing and hearing the Shaw Brothers logo slug, then having it immediately followed by this:

vlcsnap-2014-08-26-17h26m19s57

It’s like someone handing you a nice juicy hamburger… and then you notice a condom sticking out of the bun.

The Fortune Buddies is of cinematic interest only in terms of understanding how bad a movie can be and still get released.

There’s dialog insulting the television viewing audience. But all the dialog in this movie inherently insults the audience.

Just like TVB as an entity is insulting to an audience.

People want a new option, like Ricky Wong’s HKTV, because they’re tired of this garbage. I would be too except that I refuse to watch it.

I don’t have much in the way of scruples or self-esteem, but I have that much.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough to not watch this movie in the cinema.

The Fortune Buddies/勁抽福祿壽 looks like it was made on weekends and without money, and that was made very clear in the trailer.

Like an idiot, I watched it anyway. But what do I know?

Turns out I was wrong about this movie.

The Fortune Buddies/勁抽福祿壽 exceeded my expectations. It sucked more than I thought humanly possible.

In the midst of people sleepwalking through their roles, Fiona Sit finds it necessary to grossly overact, which at least has unintentional comic value.

There are about two minutes of decent acting in the whole movie, and 9/10 of that is Richard Ng, who limits his exposure in this fiasco.

At one point, I must admit that Fiona’s acting is commendable too; Wong Cho Lam’s character proposes to her and she doesn’t vomit.

The plot, in which brave and plucky locals must fight against the abusive and oppressive foreign (read: white) wrestlers might be seen as sending up the recent xenophobia of the mainland Chinese market.

But this movie is so excruciatingly witless that there’s no way it’s satire.

It’s just dumb.

It wasn’t funny because there was no style or grace or entertainment.

Just cinematic prostitution; “Hey, we got your money already, so f@#$ you!”

Which, really, is the only message The Fortune Buddies/勁抽福祿壽 has for its audience. If you are, like me, dumb enough to watch it, then it is alarmingly apropos.

And then I bought the DVD so I could watch it again for this review.

So that actress that sent me a message a while back inviting me to go f@#$ myself because she thought I insulted her?

Trust me, miss, I already did. Twice.

It’s a shame because there are a (very) few scattered laughs in the film, but they are subsumed (!) by an avalanche of sh*t.

Which one can only hope TVB someday is.

If you’re happy to see Bat Leung Gum in a movie… the movie stinks.

Movie Review: Sex and Zen I&II/玉蒲團 I&II

saz

1991’s Sex and Zen is an adaptation of The Carnal Prayer Mat/肉蒲團, a 17th century Chinese novel.

Oddly, the original title transliterates to Meat Futon, which is it’s title in Japanese. The book was popular there.

71157_2011042112030210

I like that title, and apparently so do other people. 

FYI, before you leave me some cheerless and asinine comments, please make sure you know the difference between translate and transliterate.

Sex and Zen was directed by Michael Mak, the brother of Johnny Mak. They brought us Long Arm of the LawSo maybe we can call this movie Third Leg of the Table, or something.

It doesn’t really matter what we call this movie, because it is essentially unassailable. It’s considered a classic of local cinema and of erotic cinema. I fully support those rankings, because this movie is not just fun but good.

Which may also explain why I really enjoyed a lot of the humor. As I’ve said before, there’s really something to be said for what I’ll call sexual humor; there are certain things you can only do on the far side of that line that says ‘Category III.”

26ed3p6

In the film, the protagonist gets a penis transplant. The scene is played for laughs, and it’s very funny. It’s also graphic, unsettling, and totally Category III.

Speaking of graphic…

Category III sex movies are NOT pornography. Pornography is non-simulated sex. In other words, people are really doing the Double-Back F@#$ Turtle. In Sex and Zen, the people aren’t really having sex.

But they’re got the car parked right outside the garage, so to speak.

I wonder, for example, if a man puts his face between a woman’s legs at the point where the legs join her torso… I guess if he keeps his mouth closed, it’s not sex.

If he opens his mouth, he’s a cunning linguist.

I really wonder how two women….  

vlcsnap-2014-08-28-16h08m52s251

Because they’re not covered up.

One of the things that really interests me about these movies is wondering just how they achieve things on a technical level. Amy Yip, the ‘Queen of Busts,’ was famous for not showing off her breasts in their entirety. 

But watching Sex and Zen, I kept wondering how she managed to not show them. There may be pasties, but they way she’s bouncing around, it’s actually kind of impressive that you never see her nipples. Because you see every other square mm of her chest. 

How did they manage that???

I would really love to see a ‘making of’ for this movie, because filming this kind of thing interests me much more than the visuals themselves.

Hey, I’m old.

Sex and Zen is a funny, sexy movie that ages very well. It’s not just a good category III movie, it’s a good movie. The story, the acting, and the cinematography are all good. I hadn’t seen the movie in a long time, and watching it on DVD I was reminded yet again why this movie holds up over time.

Five years after the original, in 1996, Wong Jing produced a sequel: Sex and Zen 2. It was directed by Chin Man Kei, who directed some classic Category III movies like The Fruit is SwellingThe Fruit is Ripe, and The Eternal Evil of Asia.

More recently, he’s directed Sex and Chopsticks and 33D Invader.

So he knows his stuff. As if that’s not enough, this film even has Soi Cheang as Assistant Director.

 

Sex and Zen 2 poses deep philosophical questions that are such an integral part of Zen. 

Elvis Tsui returns as a different character. But who cares? He has a penis. 

And what a penis it is. Anybody can write their name in the snow, but it takes a special man to write bad words in the sand with his manhood.

Maybe he wrote the subtitles. I don’t normally like to indulge in the easy humor of subtitle fails.

But I admit some of the suntitles in SZ2 did make me laugh because the mistakes still made sense, and were funny.

What happens when you leave the first R out of the British spelling of armor?

You get Chastity Amour, which is not the name of a stripper in Toronto who gave me crabs.

Her father ran a seafood restaurant, stop it.

And her name was Snowy Peaks.

But never mind that.

There are other times when these mistakes made me laugh.

It’s easy to confuse similar words in a second language, but it takes a certain amount of luck to have a mistake still make some kind of sense.

She’s disguising. But hey, close enough.

The transplanted penis subplot from the first movie also returns.

But this time, the replacement member is mechanical.

It’s also… how to say… uh, anatomically dangerous.

To the recipient if not the operator.

It has attachments, extensions, and built-in special effects.

It’s mot effective deployment in the film isn’t even sexual; instead, it is used to beat off (!) an attack on its owner.

Saved by the bell end, you might say.

Category III movies are not pornography, and are not by definition obscene.

However, the abominable ‘singing’ Shu Qi does on the soundtrack comes pretty close to it. I thought someone was killing a cat.

And speaking of transplanted penises, one of the most disturbing images of the film was Shu Qi looking like Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. And a yak.

Between that and her singing, maybe her recent announcement that she wants to buy up the copyright on all her Category III work isn’t such a bad idea.

There’s no seafood in these movies, but there is quite a lot of hairy crab.

That’s a euphemism, but it’s also a Cantonese homophone.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Movie Review: Temporary Family/失戀急讓

260

Lung is a property agent in Hong Kong, and that’s a tough row to hoe. The competition is cutthroat, the pay is lousy, the hours are long and the clients are horrible people.

21bi01pz

“Just like you, Spleen!”

Like most Hong Kongers, Lung wants to be rich. But not just for his own sake. He wants to have enough money to buy a flat that meets his girlfriend’s requirements.

She’s flight attendant, played by Myolie Wu. Big flat or no marriage.

����T�ֹq�v�m������n�i�a��J��

In other words, she’s a size queen.

Sammi Cheng plays a recently divorced woman who has yet to accept her situation. 

Sammi_mini_poster_2

She wants to tread real estate water until she can win her husband back.

AB_mini_poster

Angelababy plays Hak, Lung’s stepdaughter. She has a flat, but she doesn’t like it. It’s in Sheung Shui, the northernmost part of Hong Kong and the last stop on the MTR before China.

As a result, it is pretty much China, considering how many new immigrants, smugglers and other Mandarin-speaking people are there.

Speaking of Mandarin speakers, Oho Ou plays Very Wong, Lung’s intern. He’s a rich kid whose father comes from that place north of Sheung Shui. He drives a McClaren his dad paid for but wants to make his own way in the world.

Without giving away too much of the plot, these four people end up living together and learning to live with each other.

1404453098_86007

Temporary Family/失戀急讓 is a light romantic comedy with some localized references that offers no real surprises outside of the normal generic boundaries.

It’s weird and silly and flawed, but a lot of fun and pretty local. And even within generic boundaries it does have some things to recommend it. A number of the jokes were quite funny. At least two of them shocked me just by virtue of their being there. I didn’t think the movie, or the actors, would make those jokes.

The lampooning of local people and local culture are also entertaining.

2014022806275866

I really enjoyed seeing Angelababy made to play ugly for the whole film.

It really does let you see what a difference makeup can have on a person’s appearance.

I also really appreciated that she never has the swan moment; she remains the ugly duckling and never does the Cinderella.

105g34892678_o

Nick Cheung delivers another strong performance, managing at times to transcend his stardom and become the character.

Sammi Cheng achieves an even more startling transformation.

She spends the first half of the film simply recycling her well-worn character of the jilted, whiny and slightly weird woman we’ve seen her play a dozen times before.

失戀急讓-4667-1024x682

And just about the time I’d gotten really tired of it, she suddenly delivers a monologue that shows the kind of acting she’s capable of. 

Jacky_mini_poster

Jacky Cheung shows how to make the most out of a cameo, making a very brief role very memorable.

Ivana_mini_poster_2

The same can’t really be said of Ivana Wong’s cameo, but there’s no real shame in not being able to play a two-faced, shallow b*tch convincingly.

But there are things about Temporary Family/失戀急讓 I didn’t like either.

Anyone with a brain knows that Nick Cheung and Sammi Cheng are going to end up together. But it seems like no one told them.

7500130473

They have no chemistry, and it really slows the film down.

But then again, that’s the director’s job, isn’t it?

Director Vincci Cheuk gave us 2013’s Kick Ass Girls, a story that is either a postmodern, self-aware farce or the most frightening cinematic delusion ever created. The director had a small role in that film, and makes not one but two cameos in Temporary Family/失戀急讓. Someday I hope I can be that important.

Or meretricious.

Regina_mini_poster

Local politician Regina Ip has a cameo, and while it’s always nice to see politicians not taking themselves seriously,

these are pretty serious political times here in Hong Kong.

I didn’t enjoy seeing local leaders reduced to self-parody, much less one of them being a willing participant in it. My disappointment with that is compounded by a plot device that can best be described as Deus Ex PRC. Hey, we’ve all gotta make a living, right? And getting rich is glorious.

I’ll tell you what’s not glorious. The worst cover of  “A Whiter Shade of Pale” in human history. It was horrendous.

But luckily for me, and for us, Temporary Family/失戀急讓 isn’t. It’s a fun movie, and as a disposable comedy it’s a nice diversion.

And you get to play Where is Jane Wong!

Movie Review: Future X-Cops/未來警察

FutureXCops

Wong Jing is one of my favorite filmmakers. As a writer, director, producer and actor, he has made a whole bunch of movies that I thoroughly enjoy.

They may not be great cinema, but they entertain me, and that’s all I can really ask for.

In Future X-Cops/未來警察, Andy Lau plays Kidd Zhao, a police officer whose wife Meili, played by Fan Bing Bing, is also a cop. They have a daughter, played by Xu Jiao.

vlcsnap-2014-08-19-11h40m38s252

Kidd and Meili must protect Dr. Masterson, played by Ma Jingwu. Dr. Masterson is a scientist.

vlcsnap-2014-08-19-11h33m26s209

And appears to have been adopted.

They must protect him from a group of cyborgs led by Kalon, played by Fan Siu Wong.

They want to kill Dr. Masterson, but are foiled by Kidd, who not only loses his wife in the battle but destroys an entire museum exhibit.

I have only one question about Ian Powers’ character:

vlcsnap-2014-08-19-11h09m02s39

How does he go to the bathroom with those arms?

The bad guys steal a time travel device that we never see but are told about.

It apparently allows you to travel back in time using the Universe Crevice, which at least partially explains why we call it the crack of dawn.

The bad guys want to travel back in time to kill Dr. Masterson. Kidd Zhao goes back in time to protect Dr. Masterson. His daughter accompanies him to the past.

52a5652a20534e218acf9a659af780f7

Probably because the police department refused to pay for 60 years of babysitting.

Future X-Cops/未來警察 takes place in a “A city” in two futures; 2020 and 2080. There are things that are familiar about it and things that are not.

It’s obvious that the city is Chinese, because the writing on the signs is Chinese and 99% of the people in the city (and the movie) are Chinese.

But I’m not sure we can say that it’s in China. First, because it never says it’s China.

Let’s look at some of the other reasons. In 2080, the people speak Cantonese and the sky over the city is blue.

Maybe it’s in Malaysia. Or it’s science fiction.

vlcsnap-2014-08-19-11h41m47s155

I mean… feather pillows in 2080?

Considering Future X-Cops/未來警察 starts in 2080 and then goes to 2020… well, that’s time travel.

So it’s probably not China.

The police drive BMWs and use Apple computers.

So it might be China. But not 2020.

This is getting confusing.

At one point, a police officer grabs a bag out of his BMW. A stolen IKEA bag.

Chinese police do not steal. Must not be China.

Hmmm… Andy Lau finds it strange that the ‘ancient’ people of 2020… apologize. Maybe it is China.

But a few minutes later Andy Lau tells someone that if they have new ideas, they must speak out about them.

Nope. Not China.

80c73ab201924ac8bf69c62ea7bc1092

The best approach to watching Future X-Cops/未來警察 is to not allow yourself to ask too many questions. And never ask why. If you do, you’ll quickly find yourself trapped in the Universe Crevice.

Or some other uncomfortable place.

But that’s not to say that the movie isn’t entertaining. It certainly is, for good and bad reasons.

479029_134832176953_2

It’s not the greatest movie ever made, but I enjoyed it in the cinema and I enjoyed it on DVD.

Maybe I have low standards, or maybe it’s just a fun movie. Who knows?

Say what you want about Wong Jing, he knows what his audience likes. Usually when I watch a Wong Jing movie, I can just shut my brain off and take in what it shows me.

Sometimes that’s a really good thing to be able to do.

vlcsnap-2014-08-19-11h26m56s165

He’s also the only director in cinematic history to cut a child character in half but have it be okay.

Movie Review: Sleepwalker in 3D/夢遊

Sleepwalkerposter

Sleepwalker in 3D is actually the name of the movie. It’s on the title card. Look:

vlcsnap-2014-08-21-10h38m29s11

And that, dear viewer, is a very telling sign of the movie.

As you may by now know, I am not a fan of 3D. I watched this in 2D on DVD.

2DVD?

I didn’t see it in the cinema, because someone told me it was ‘China-market friendly.’ 

In other words, whatever mystery is presented will be resolved in a logical and lawful manner.

And it’s not as though the Pang brothers haven’t abused us enough over the years with films like The Child’s EyeStorm Warriors… and The Detective 2. 

But I thought it would only be fair of me to give Sleepwalker in 3D/夢遊 a chance.

I was stupid.

This movie starts weird and clumsy with a shot that was obviously meant to be watchable (and interesting) only in 3D. I can’t find any other reason for its existence.

2837161_vj3qnmf_l

The movie never gets any better.

Angelica Lee plays Yi, a woman who runs a garment factory in Hong Kong. She’s a little twitchy and has really lousy taste in hair color.

I know you know what I’m thinking… but I’m not gonna make that joke.

She keeps waking up with dirty hands and feet. She has these weird dreams, and when she wakes up, her apartment is a mess.

So far, it sounds frighteningly like my own life.

She bumps into her ex-husband and his girlfriend in a grocery store. Soon after, he disappears.

Not from the store. I mean from everywhere.

Sergeant Au, a police officer played by Huo Siyan, wants to ask Yi about his disappearance.

The fact that she speaks Mandarin is hopefully in no way relevant to the fact that she seems to know everything already.

Sleepwalker_08_1319168251

And always has the pertinent files right on her desk to show people.

And why she’s seen Yi wandering around the neighborhood in her nightgown.

Uh oh. It’s resembling my life again.

Yi wants to know why she’s doing it too.

Wouldn’t you?

So she starts putting flour around her bed at night and taping her bedroom door shut.

jdgv0WVGE3C32vpV6NmexWkFZUF

It starts to make her more than slightly crazy, and more than just the police are taking notice. Her employees want to quit. Her friends take her to a shrink. And sergeant Au continues to watch her, because she wants to get to the bottom of it.

That’s not a euphemism.

vlcsnap-2014-08-21-10h41m34s76

But Sergeant Au has problems of her own. Her mother, played by Bau Hei Jing, isn’t feeling well. Her cousin, played by Charlie Yeung, takes care of the mother. But she’s in a daze herself since her son has been kidnapped.

She paid the ransom but hasn’t gotten her son back. Now it’s three months later, and she blames Sergeant Au.

It felt like this movie lasted for three months.

The pace of the movie isn’t slow, but it still feels very slow.
This movie slogs. It’s not really the actors’ fault as much as it is the story.

I found myself struggling to pay attention because I really had no reason

to care about any of these characters. They’re not engaging.

It didn’t help that the resolution of the story is dull, pedestrian, and told through laborious exposition.

Christine

 

Though I think I know how and why that happened.

I certainly won’t blame Kent Cheng, who shows up late in the film. He’s not given much to work with (like the rest of the cast), but he does his best.

I don’t think anyone could have saved this movie.

Sleepwalker in 3D made me feel like a sleepwatcher.

But it’s not to say that Sleepwalker in 3D isn’t realistic. In one scene, three people are physically fighting over a toddler in a park and all anyone else does is stand around and stare at them.

After I watched this movie, I realized why I didn’t watch it in the cinema.

And it wasn’t because of the goofy 3-D glasses.

If you wanna watch Sleepwalker in 3D/夢遊, be my guest.