@ 2012 Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival
“if you don’t fight, then you won’t lose, but if you decide to fight, you must win!”
Sometimes, like life, a film can be better on a 2nd viewing or perhaps it is the second time around that we truly appreciate it. For whatever reasons, my first experience of Gallants two years ago was largely disappointing. Maybe it is the advert of watching the film on a computer screen, but I never truly got into the movie. Fast forward to today, re-watching Gallants is fast becoming the best film of the festival and that’s not an understatement. To describe Gallants, it is not easy; to me it is a perfect combination of laugh out comedy, old school martial arts, revoking the memories of Shaw Brother days and an inspiring and emotional finale. For a film with such a limited budget (backed entirely by the generous Andy Lau), it certainly exceeded all expectations and with a super sub like Teddy Robin, the film is undoubtedly a unqualified success.
The star of the show is without words, Mr. Teddy Robin, who not only managed to managed to stand out from their crowd with his natural uncanny screen presence, but also an impressive ability to display a comic and emotional side to his role. It is a testimony to Robin and in many ways I have always admired the confidence and life he brings to both his on screen persona and real life. Other 70s greats like Bruce Leung Siu-Lung and Chen Kuan-Tai are equally impressive in their respective roles and despite their growing age, their martial arts moves are a pleasure to watch. For the young guns, Wong Yau-Nam and JJ Jia is surely a cute couple in the making, it is a shame that the film went out of budget to follow that sub-plot. Likewise, Siu Yam-Yam adds presence to her role, despite being underused.
All in all, Gallants is certainly a gallant effort from a debutant director Clement Cheng (refer to the Q&A with the director of Gallants) and the Pye Dog’s director Derek Kwok. Two years ago, I did not think that Gallants is worthy of winning the Hong Kong Film Awards’ Best Film, but sometimes in retrospective we all make mistakes and now I am proud to claim that the Gallant’s cast and crew fully deserved the award. It is a rare kind of Hong Kong cinema that allows the audience to laugh out loud, embrace the past and present and perhaps cry a little in the whole process along the way. It is a uniquely Hong Kong film and for that alone, director Clement Cheng have a fine future ahead. A must see film for all Hong Kong cinema lovers…
Neo rates it 9/10
Note: Even more amazingly the film only took 18 days to shot! Now that’s hong Kong style efficiency!