Category Archives: 2007 Hong Kong / China Movies

The Lady Iron Chef (2007) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 17 July 2007
Released on DVD across Asia

Starring: Charmaine Sheh Si-Man, Hacken Lee Hak-Kun, Yuen Qiu, Wong Jing, Liu Yang, Bonnie Wong Man-Wai, Cheung Tat-Ming, Yumiko Cheng Hei-Yi, Zuki Lee Si-Pui
Directed by: Billy Chung
Produced by: Wong Jing

Yet another cliché

Wong Jing loves to rip off the latest craze in Hong Kong culture, and with the rising popularity of the TVB’s “Cooking Beauty” series; it is only a matter of time before someone just have to cash in. Sharing similar premises as the far superior “God of Cookery”, Wong Jing have once again created a fully manufactured material. It is okay not to be original, but it is a death sentence to be boring. The film starts off with a credible opening 40 minutes, but then it just drags on with irrelevant events, before hooking up in a slightly better finale. In truth, it is still better than “Kung Fu Mahjong 3”, but it is still a far cry from a couple of years ago, when the Wong Jing shocked everyone with “Colour of the Truth”. There are occasional funny parts, but ultimately it struggles to be average.

To be honest, I have never been a fan of TVB’s Charmaine Sheh, as there is an aspect of her infamous nose that clearly gets in the way, but nonetheless she handles the paper thin role in a rather convincing manner. Then again, Sheh despite her flaws have always been a somewhat natural talent and one only requires a viewing of her body of TVB works before reaching an agreement. As for Hacken Lee, he seems to appear here and there to provide his speciality of background music, rather than actual acting. His type of acting certainly doesn’t help the cause and probably resulting in a pretty much non-chemical relationship with Sheh. However, mainland newcomer Liu Yang shines through in the flower glass role. Perhaps the most surprising comment that I will later regret claiming, is that Wong Jing for once isn’t outright annoying and the fact that he acts stupid makes it far easier to believe in his character, even though it is pretty much a nothing role.

Instead of attributing all the blame to the producer Wong Jing, one must also slap director Billy Chung in the face, as he resorts to cliché after cliché. Why must there be a crying scene filled with the backdrop of Hacken Lee’s music. Just when you think it couldn’t get any worst, the scene is compounded with artificial raindrops. Sometimes, it makes you wonder, whether or not Wong Jing actually loves film making or not. (I should probably add – it is a rhetorical question.)

All in all, this is yet another uninspiring entry into Wong Jing’s body of recent work. While it is better than “Kung Fu Mahjong 3”, it really isn’t saying much. However, the most frightening aspect of this flick is not the movie itself, but rather the potential of seeing future flicks with the names of “The Lady Iron Chef 2 and 3”. Then again, it may well be true as we should all remember the director that launched the “Kung Fu Mahjong” series – Billy Chung. There are some funny sequences, Sheh is a natural and Liu is provides the eye candy, but the flick is far too frequently hampered by boring segments and criminal-run of clichés. This isn’t Wong Jing’s worst and it is difficult to see how it can be any better… (Neo 2007)

I rate it 5.25/10

The Haunted School 校墓處 (2007) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 17 March 2007
Released on DVD across Asia

Starring: Theresa Fu, Tsui Tin Yau, Amanda Lee, Steven Cheung, Toby Leung, Don Li
Directed by: Chin Man Kei

Wholly average and hampered by a stupid twist…

Sometimes you wonder why the hell the director had to include a stupid and lame twist at the end that is so predictable. It ruins an otherwise, immensely average flick that may actually be adequate with lower expectations. The flick is cultivated by crap and almost non-existent acting from almost the entire cast. When Theresa Fu and Tsui Tin Yau are considered as the best thing in the movie, both in terms of acting and steer presence, you probably already know the type of picture you are getting. However, the poor acting is given some sort of credibility by some quality producing and out of place cinematography from a little guy named, Andrew Lau (“Infernal Affairs”). Along with director, Chin Man Kei, whose body of works includes “Sex and Zen 2” and assistant director of “Infernal Affairs 3”, making this below average script into something that is extremely adequate and borderline average to endure.

As mentioned before, the best thing in the flick is probably the slightly above average acting from Theresa Fu and Tsui Tin Yau, as both performs in a far more relax manner than the entire cast of teens. In reality, it isn’t really saying much, as Steven Cheung was plain annoying, Don Li acted like a stone forced to love and perhaps with the exception of Toby Leung, who showed some sort of promise, getting through the acting of these lads, can be quite enduring. Needless to say, Theresa is somewhat pretty and is probably given her first ever slightly juicy role that requires her to at least do some acting. Surprisingly she performs adequately without exceeding expectations and likewise, Tsui Tin Yau shows some much needed promise that is so elusive from the entire cast.

To be honest, the premise of this movie is actually pretty stupid, but as mentioned before, full credit must be given to Andrew Lau for producing a flick that actually looked like a movie. There are strikingly well produced and well-shot sequences, but sometimes it makes you wonder, whether these sort of images is served better in a better material. There aren’t any memorable scenes to mention about, but it must be commented that the lighting of the toilets does provide a pretty good backdrop. It is unfortunate that Lau and Chin both fail to captialise on that.

All in all, “The Haunted School” is not only hampered by crap acting, but also a stupid and lame twist ending that is so predictable that it is not funny or shocking at all. All it does is leaving the audience from feeling mediocre to feeling stupid. As the saying goes, if the twist is not witty or smart, it is better off not ending with one. Lau and Chin make a terrible mistake, but with that being said, they still managed to turn around a crap script into something wholly average. It isn’t a big accomplishment, but at the very least it is better than this year’s House of Invisibles by a huge margin. Still, it is without doubt an underachievement from producer Lau and director Chin, as both have done far better work. Perhaps, Chin is far more suited in movies along the calibre of “Sex and Zen 2” than the teen horror genre… (Neo 2007)

I rate it 6/10

The Closet 異塚 (2007) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 10 August 2007
Released on DVD across Asia

Starring: Francis Ng Chun-Yu, Yang Zhifei, Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai, Michelle Ye, Zhou Ziyue, Chan Mong-Wah, Johnny Wong
Directed by: Cho Kin-Nam

A waste of acting talents…

It is little wonder that Francis Ng is someone that looks at the pay check rather than the actual script. After all, it isn’t necessary a bad thing as actors are still human beings and they need the money to meet than cost of living. Still, it isn’t the first time that Ng have ventured into some plain crap scripts, most notably being last year’s “Karmic Mahjong” and “The Curse of Lola”. “The Closet” is really a case of where the actors outperform the actual film and script in nearly all departments. It is needless to say that Francis Ng is a good actor and he performs in his usual captivating manner. Adding to the mix is veteran Eddie Cheung, who seems to be improving as rapidly as his age and some fine turns from an almost unrecognisable Michelle Ye and a potential filled performance from newcomer Yang Zhifei. With that being said, “The Closet” is really a movie that wasted the talents of its available cast and the fault clearly lies in the script and the direction.

It is not a rarity that a Hong Kong thriller is being disguised as a horror. Unfortunately Hong Kong movies are no longer scary and whether or not it is actually even thrilling is also worth questioning. As mentioned before, the main reason why the current reviewer is able to sit through such a stupid movie is because of the performances on show. It is full credit to Francis Ng who seamlessly eases into a non-existence role with such flair and character. Likewise Eddie Cheung’s tense expressions are a joy to watch as is the moments of his fight scene with Ng beside the pool, is certainly worthy of some mentioning. While Michelle Ye performs well in some sequences as someone with some sort of mental problem, she is no longer the youthful presence that once graced the TVB screens. Perhaps she is older now, but it is unfortunate that she no longer have that spark about her anymore. Contrastingly, the presence of newcomer Yang Zhifei provides some much needed freshness and youthful beauty that enable the audience to sit through this torture slightly easier.

All in all, “The Closet” isn’t really a movie that is trying to say much and if not for the actors’ performances, it is highly likely that I would have switched off the screen without a second thought. As a result, full credit must be given to the entire cast for creating some sort of unrealistic suspense and a somewhat slightly tense final act. Still, “The Closet” is easily a failure in terms of film making, as the director rarely attempts to try anything new or creative. The sub-plot of Ng and his father relationship is rarely touched upon and the result is really rather lacking and almost to the point of stupidity. It is unfortunate that the film fails to utilise the talents that it possesses, but then again, it is hard to see how they can improve upon such a lame script. (Neo 2007)

I rate it 3/10.

Sweet Revenge 寄生人 (2007) – Hong Kong / China

Review by: Andrew Chan (Neo) FCCA AACTA
Re-edited on: 24 September 2012

An artistic B-movie. What happens when you combine a Golden Horse award winning director Ho Ping with a B-movie expert Tony Leung Hung Wah? The answer is “Sweet Revenge”, a movie that contain some well shot scenes as well as some worthy shots of cinematography, which all adds up to being an above average flick.

Sometimes, you wonder what could have been, especially when the movie contains the ever improving Nick Cheung (“The Exiled”), the irresistible Fan Bing Bing, an award winning supporting actor in Anthony Wong (“Turning Point”) and adding on the icing with Golden Horse winning director Ho Ping. Perhaps this is the reason why the film left me slightly disappointed, as it never attempts to do anything new or special. Sure, it is probably a good movie by Tony Leung Hung Wah’s standard, but with the above involvement, “Sweet Revenge” is really rather disappointing.

The first stop of this review is definitely a little paragraph dedicating to the irresistible Fan Bing Bing. Fan Bing Bing is one pretty girl and there is something about her that makes her irresistible for the viewers’ eyes. It may well be her wide eyes, her natural curve face or her sensitive emotion, but whatever it is, Fan is one person that can captivate the audience attention. Moving on to her performance, Fan for the first time in her short acting career is given a slightly beefy role and she handles it with a certain natural flair. Not only is she able to hold her own against the likes of veteran Anthony Wong, but even manages to steal the spotlight away from the ever improving Nick Cheung. This is especially evident in an arty scene where Fan is crouching down on the backdrop of an artistic wall. A much improved performance from her last outing “Battle of Wits” and most certainly an actress I will be keeping a close eye on for years to come.

Almost forgetting that this is a Nick Cheung’s movie, it is needless to say that the man has improved his acting ever since storming through the scenes of Johnnie To’s “The Exiled”. In this film, Cheung is suitably intense and at times his morph into madness is quite enduring to watch. Adding to the mix is the always dependable Anthony Wong who seems to have nothing to do, either than kiss the girl (namely Fan Bing Bing), drink and sleep. Unfortunately his romance with Fan seems more fictional than reality. This in turns indirectly adds to some unnecessary thoughts from the audience as to whether Wong is really Fan Bing Bing’s dad.

All in all, “Sweet Revenge” have some bright spots and it is probably safe to say that the film is a good B grade film. However, given the A-list cast and award winning director, the end result seems rather like a waste of talent. The effect is leaving the audience feeling what could have been. While the film attempts answer all the questions that it seems to poses, it somehow fails to add that extra bit of flavour which can turn the film into something special. In the past, Ho Ping’s films have a certain distinct flavour upon it, but this time, his direction seems to be overshadowed by something. The result is like an above average birthday cake, that just kind of loses its flavour. It is an adequate piece of filmmaking, but I just can’t help thinking – what could have been. (Neo 2007)

I rate it 7/10

Super Fans 甜心粉絲王 (2007) – Hong Kong

Review by: Andrew Chan (Neo) FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 2007
Re-edited: 25 September 2012

Charlene tries hard in an ultimately lacking flick. “Super Fans” is really an extremely light take on the issue of obsessive fans and the result is leaving the audience with a feeling of lacking in almost every department.

It’s been since the “Confession of Pain” that I have been at the cinemas for a Hong Kong film, but why I decided to venture again remains a mystery. Going to the counter, I did not know what movie was on and randomly he asked for whatever Hong Kong movie that is currently showing. The result is sitting in an almost empty cinema, embracing the antics of the alarmingly cute, Charlene Choi and the disappointing effort from director Eric Kot, who “once upon a time” directed a film that even Wong Kar Wai wanted to be associated with. It is a film with three acts and unfortunately the first act is bloody annoying and at times stretching to the point of boredom. Luckily, Kot realized the above flaw and set about redeeming the movie with a fine 2nd and 3rd act. However, the film is still too manufactured, too predictable and too cloying for the audience to buy into it. Perhaps the film is a direct comment about what happened to Andy Lau and his obsessive fan issues recently, but the social commentary never reaches those heights, nor does it seems to be aiming that direction.

No matter what, this is ultimately a film for Charlene Choi to showcase her ultra-cute acting antics. As mention in an earlier review, the Twins are better off separated. Once again, Charlene is more comfortable by herself. Here she jumps up and down, laughs like she always does, scream as though she is possessed and cry when she feels like it. The effect is pretty much a performance that we have all seen before and no matter how hard she tries, she offers nothing new, other than being adorably cute. Still, she is by far the only good thing that the film has to offer and carries the film for almost its entire duration. As for Leo Koo, his role of being a Mr. Nice Guy isn’t exactly something to boast about, but at the very least he is likeable enough. However, the casting of Sammy as the ultimate super star is both rather lame and stupid. Perhaps, Kot is commenting on the superficial natural of the Hong Kong entertainment in emphasizing how someone so shallow and hallow can still have so many obsessive fans. Nonetheless, the choice of Sammy is clearly a bad decision, as it adds to the unbelievable nature of the flick. After all, who in the right mind would claim that Sammy is cool and handsome. In fact, one that note, I am starting to feel the need to go to the toilet for some vomiting.

It is really saddening to witness how far Eric Kot has fallen by directing this flick. While he was so promising in a little film called – “First Love”, so much so that even Wong Kar Wai provided some finishing touches to it. However, in “Super Fans”, we can see no evidence of that former flair and the result is an non-adventurous and a shallow look at the entertainment industry problem of obsessive fans. Adding to the disappointment is an annoying cameo performance from Kot, an actor who have matured in the past two years with some quality supporting display.

All in all, “Super Fans” is really an extremely light take on the issue of obsessive fans and the result is leaving the audience with a feeling of lacking in almost every department. It is sad to that filmmakers nowadays will think of a good idea and then will go straight into filming the picture, without adequate prior planning. The casting of Sammy adds to the frustration and the first act remains quite boring. However, the film is saved by an outright trying performance from the ever energetic Charlene Choi and a somewhat redeeming 2nd and 3rd act. Still, at the very best the film is still average and thanks to the antics of Charlene Choi, this movie contains some enjoyable and fun scenes. With that being said, I used to be a Twins fan… (Neo 2007)

I rate it 6.25/10.