A WONDERFUL LIFE (2007-HK)
review by Neo
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a commercial life…
Ronald Cheng is a funny guy and the latest flick allows him to don the writing hat, directing hat and starring hat into a nicely packaged linear New Year comedy. Yes, it is an extremely commercial film and certainly a film made for commercial stakes. With that being said, Cheng have created a film that is largely entertaining and plainly mindless fun. It is a huge step above the bunch of uninspiring and at times boring – Kung Fu Mahjong 3 and House of Mahjong, just to name a few. Comedies are meant to be made with the ultimate aim of entertaining the audience and somehow HK seems to have forgotten that fact. Luckily, Cheng is a capable comedian and he surely knows how to make us laugh, sure there are sectors of audience that do not appreciate his antics, but Neo do find him more funny than annoying. In turn, Cheng have created an easygoing linear year comedy in an enormously pleasing and mindless fashion.
The movie goes like this: Heavenly god Thunder (Ronald Cheng) is in a bit of a bind. Years ago, he made an empty promise to a child named Ding Dong, but heavenly rules strictly forbid disingenuity. To clean his slate, Thunder descends from heaven to assist Ding Dong (Vincent Kok), who has since grown up to be a portly, harried man of many misfortunes. At work, he's constantly bullied by his boss (Tony Leung). His kooky artist wife (Louisa So) is in danger of being stolen away by her even crazier cousin (Cheung Tat Ming). His stuttering brother-in-law (Alex Fong) is in trouble with the triads because of his gambling girlfriend (Miki Yeung). His sister (Kate Yeung) is a crying lovelorn mess. Having promised his girlfriend (Mia Yam) a timely return, Thunder assumes that he can fix everything with a snap of his fingers, but things aren't as simple as they seem in the mortal world.
Sometimes, after a day of stress or whatever, it is refreshing to watch a movie that allows you to switch off your exhausted mind for a couple of hours. This flick succeeds in not being original, but by being funny and mindless at the same time. Criticism will be lay upon some obvious commercialism regarding to product placement, especially by the use of McDonalds in a totally unnecessarily manner. It must be said though that it is better to have sponsors to still support HK movies than none whatsoever. After all, this is a commercial flick and its ultimate aim is to make a profit. In the process, the movie is largely enjoyable and easygoing, making it a plus for both the audience and the filmmakers.
In a reversal of roles, Vincent Kok the director that launched the career of Ronald Cheng’s blend of comedies takes the centre stage as the unlikely leading star. It starts of being a questionable casting, but as the movie worn on, that question mark began fade and soon enough, for the first time in his life, Kok is a likable character. His journey through luckless to damn lucky is funny and enjoyable to endure. Ronald Cheng surprisingly takes the second in command and in turn seems to care less about acting than directing. His focus seems more as to what the next shot is, rather than concentrating on his paper thin role. Still, Cheng is funny and his comic timing both on and off screen is steady improving with each film he is making. It is a credible directing debut and certainly making his mark as a capable comedy director. Just to add a couple of comments on the other characters, the Saint Nine chick (Mia Yam) is pretty and innocent enough to overcome her lack of actual acting and Miki Yeung appears here and there, but Kate Yeung once again shines through as a bright new talent on the rise.
All in all, It’s a Wonderful Life, isn’t original at all and it never strives to be either, as its ultimate aim is to make money and create laughs. In that Ronald Cheng seems to have succeeded in achieving both. It is funny to recall some of the jokes that underline the film. In the scene when Tony Leung Ka Fai is plotting to kill Vincent, the Fung Shui guy said – “let’s copy the plan from The Banquet”, Leung replies, “what is it?” the guy replies – “it’s a movie” Leung answers “but I have never seen it before.”, the guy said – “exactly, no one will know of the plan then, because no one have seen the movie.” It is probably a joke, but it also an indirect comment about the state of HK cinema. A lot of people have not seen a HK movie like the Banquet; as a result, the filmmakers can copy or use the same idea again for their next movie. Such are the ironies of this flick and with that aside, it is still a movie that have achieved its goal, even if they are not ambitious. It is always important for comedies to entertain and not bore the audience to death and in this situation, Ronald Cheng have succeeded and for that Neo is appreciative of his efforts. Sure it is extremely commercial, but it is probably as enjoyable as it gets…
I rate it 7.75/10.
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Starring: Ronald Cheng, Vincent Kok, Teresa Mo, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Alex Fong
Directed by: Ronald Cheng