Another year, another Lunar Chinese New Year film from the successful “I Love Hong Kong” franchise. After knocking veteran Raymond Wong’s long running “All Well Ends Well” off the pearl, TVB and Shaw Brothers continue the same family drama plot line and remains surprisingly affecting. One of the reasons why “I Love Hong Kong 2013” works, is because it touches upon relevant Hong Kong people concerns and the sentimental value that people place on long lost Hong Kong culture in the rapidly changing territory. The result is another good addition to the series that wins the audience over with a touching if cliché scenario.
Alan Tam replaces Tony Leung Kar Fai in the latest instalment as the Hong Kong old dinosaur in focus. With a bad hairdo that is actually rather distracting, Tam manages to produce one of his better performances in recent years. His rooftop chat with Eric Tsang (in an equally bad make-up and costume), revokes the glory Hong Kong cinema days when the pair chased after Maggie Cheung (namely “Alan And Eric: Between Hello And Goodbye“). However, the star of the show is given to the ever improving Bosco Wong. Wong steadily impresses in deliberately overacting for comedic effect and remains a easily likeable character for the audience to root for. His already established chemistry with Kate Tsui is easy on the eye and the two plays off each other like old couples having a great time. Stanley Fung once again provides the anchor role as the kind hearted boss of the restaurant, while Michael Tse is suitably hilarious in the “villainous” role who insanely grew up to become Natalis Chan. Rounding out the film, we also get to see the much missed Veronica Yip (playing Tam’s wife) who have not made a film since 1996. Long time fans of Hong Kong cinema will surely be on the mark with this one. Also in the for the laughs, is the always scene stealing Siu Yam Yam’s cameo as the fraudulent “Chi” seller.
All in all, “I Love Hong Kong 2013” easily won the battle of the two lunar new year films (the other being “Hotel Deluxe“) as it is far more personal, more uniquely Hong Kong and more importantly about basic human values that a lot of people have forgotten in the midst of Hong Kong working life. Veteran TVB director Chung Shu Kai who helmed the entire “I Love Hong Kong” series is once again successful in balancing over the top humour with the right level of drama and hitting the right emotional buttons in the most crucial moments. With the box office success looming once again, we look forward to the series continuing in yet another Hong Kong 70s and modern day crossover in “I Love Hong Kong 2014”. See you next year! (Neo 2013)
I rated it 7.5/10
Writing about Asian and World cinema since 2004 (Member of Film Critic Circle of Australia and Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts)