Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 2nd January 2013
Released on DVD across Asia
Director: Ivan Lai
Cast: Nick Cheung, Francis Ng, Anthony Wong, Sam Lee, Turbo, Gabriel Harrison, Tina Lee, Law Koon-Lan, Austin Wai, Yip Or-Fan, Peter Lai, Lau Shek-Yin
In 1999, Nick Cheung made seven quick-fire starring vehicles with “The King of Debt Collecting Agent” being his first major headlining role. In this film, you can witness Cheung’s apparent maturity in his acting and the second half provides Cheung with a chance to showcase his dramatic range. Perhaps not entirely successful, Cheung at the very least is never annoying. It is strange how such a small budget feature can garner the likes of Francis Ng and Anthony Wong (in an extended cameo) to co-star, but this is in all essence a Nick Cheung film.
There are some good moments in this film and there are enough Hong Kong’s 90s film-making style to shoot the audience pass the finishing. In fact, the first half possesses some good comic timing and the from rags to riches story is fun enough to follow. The film takes a sharp turn by the half way mark and turns bloody and dark, unfortunately director Ivan Lai (“The Erotic Ghost Story 3”) is not entirely up to the task. The film suffers from a lack of focus, the usual 90s poor lighting and an extremely blend and ordinary direction that distracts the audience to focusing on the characters and their fate.
Nick Cheung (“Beast Stalker”) does a good job in role that stretches more his acting muscles than most of his late 90s and early 2000s comedies. He flairs far better when he is allowed to be serious and there are some glimpses of potential that will eventually make him one of Hong Kong’s premier acting talents in recent years. His chemistry with his mother (played by the ever natural Law Koon-Lan “Truth or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat”) is especially good. While, his love interest played by Tina Lee lacks a cutting edge and fail miserably in pulling off the final movie twist. Sam Lee provides ably support and flairs better towards the end when required to emote. However, Francis Ng (“The Last Tycoon”) surprisingly fails to add anything to the film, apart from providing some moments of laugher. His mimic of his over-used 90s cinema voice is funny at first instance, but grew tiresome as the film progresses. While his counterpart Anthony Wong (“Motorway”) shows up in numerous scenes randomly without much effect.
Still, “The King of Debt Collecting Agent” is a perfect example of late 90s Hong Kong cinema, a time when the industry is lacking in creativity, using lower budgets to churn out films in quick fashion, while at the same time still manages to provide glimpses of Hong Kong flair and style. Films like these won’t be made in today cinematic standards and the local flavours these type of films processes is priceless for today’s generation. In many ways, the film gave Nick Cheung a starring performance and despite all the stated flaws, “The King of Debt Collecting Agent” still manages to entertains. (Neo 2013)
I rated it 6.5/10