Category Archives: 36th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2012

[36HKIFF] Vulgaria 低俗喜劇 (2012) – Hong Kong

@ 36th Hong Kong International Film Festival – International Premiere
Review by: Andrew Chan (Neo) FCCA
Review Date: 11 April 2012

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Pang Ho Cheung does it again and this time, he goes over the top in creating possibly the most foul language film of Hong Kong cinematic history and the most laugh-out-loud movie event of the year…

Reviewer note: However, knowledge of Hong Kong cinema, language, culture and everything else is a must for full enjoyment.

“Vulgaria” is very much a local Hong Kong fair and for that alone it is worthy of its admission price. It’s been a long time running since, I laughed out loud together with a full-house screening of a Hong Kong movie. In fact, it is probably since “Hang Over” that I laughed so much continuously at a cinema screening. There is no question about “Vulgaria”‘s entertainment value and in terms of that; it is truly up there with the best. Director Edmond Pang Ho Cheung once again strikes a chord with the local audience and this time, he succeeded in creating a laughing cord connection. Comedies are never easy, but black comedy and satire is truly Pang’s forte. Think no further than his debut work (still one of Pang most hilarious and smart film) “You Shoot, I Shoot”. What makes this film a success is very much due to ability of Chapman To to deliver an all-out comedic performance and a clever script to boot?

Chapman To is one fine actor. I still remember the lad appeared in almost every other Hong Kong movies back in 2003-2005 periods. In recent years, To have proved to be as much a capable leading actor in combining dramatic and comedic roles in particular “La Comédie humaine”, in which he delivered one of his finest performance. In “Vulgaria”, the To is able to own the film in a manner where he is truly coming of age and becoming a star in his own right, own style and own flair. It is not since Stephen Chow that there is a second coming and while To may not have the same star power, his performance here is second to none. Likewise the Chow heir apparent, Ronald Cheng overacts as the rich Mainlander provides a perfect combo To-Cheng duo act as the two play of each other and radiates the screen, whenever they collides. Unfortunately the weakest link of the trio comes in the form of hot and sexy Dada Chen. While Chen is hot whenever she comes onto the screen, she is unable to create a character in a role that require much more. Not unlike “My Name is Fame“, where the aspiring actress Huo Siyan is able to make the role her own; the same cannot be said about Chen. Surely a step up from her steamy hot performance in “Lan Kwai Fong“, but still a far cry from the rest of the cast. Despite, her limited screen time, veteran Susan Shaw is perfectly casted as herself in a straight talking role that actually contributes to one of the funnier moments on the screen.

All in all, Pang has hit the jackpot once again and it is not surprising, considering he is one of the few directors to never having made a bad movie. In fact, all his movies are smart and somewhat refreshing and in “Vulgaria”, Pang goes all out to create smart and efficiently scripted cheap and effective laughs. It’s not every day we watch a movie where the actors and crew have so much fun in rooting animals and using popping candies as a sexual foreplay. Adding with some strong performance from Chapman To and Ronald Cheng, Pang is able to deliver one of the freshest and funniest entry to 2012 Hong Kong cinema. Although the film may not appeal to the older generation and some may even find it offensive, but for an age group of 20-40, this is surely a film not to miss. “Vulgaria” may not win any awards, but in terms of entertainment value, Pang has done it again…(Neo 2012)

Neo rates it 9/10

[36HKIFF] Love in the Buff 春嬌與志明 (2012) – Hong Kong

HKIFF190

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Director Pang Ho-Cheung managed to deliver yet another piece of gem. Love in the Buff, a carry-on of the entertaining Love with a Puff deals with modern romance with an ingenious manner, excellent script, decent chemistry and a believable story. Pang in this film transform into the serial modern dating expert Patrick Kong. While Kong can write a good story about modern relationships and its dynamics and how love generally sucks, Pang out-dux his counterpart by being able to tell the story better on the big screen. Pang talks about similar issues, but what he is able to do in one film, Mr. Kong requires 10. Let’s not get too big-headed, as this is by no means a perfect movie. The flaws of the Miriam Yeung-Shawn Yue combo are still questionable at best and despite some improvement, the chemistry is at best decent. However, the film works despite the lack of smoking sequences and relies strongly on the likable presence of Miriam Yeung, the irresistibly hot Mini Yang and as per usual sharp and clever direction from the unmistakable Pang.

2

Miriam Yeung is really a hit and misses. No matter how much she tries to act, she is just not on the same calibre as let’s say Sammi Cheng. Still, Yeung is always a cheerful and likable character no matter how you put it. She is a genuine crowd pleaser and possesses an air of on-screen presence that carries the audience through the movie. The real problem of the film lies in Shawn Yue’s character, ever since I praised him with potential in his small role in Jiang Hu, Yue has stalemated to the point of delivering predictable stoic performances. It is a shame as the real star of the movie is not the central character, but rather their younger counterpart delivering a winning performance. Mini Yang is able to depict and show the emotions of a naive girl in love with a guy where his heart buried within his own history. Yang is a perfect combination of hot, sexy and cute and when you add some acting chops to the mix, you got an actress around the corner.

4

All in all, Love in the Buff is really a good movie, but relies more on Pang’s quality script writing, perfect song selections, sharp editing than on the actual acting itself. The good news is that there are plenty of laughs, funny moments, romantic tones and enough regrets to get the audience involved in the process. It is rare a film can overshadow the actors’ performances, and not unlike Wong Kar Wai, Pang is able to do this. Still, Love in the Buff could have easily been better; casting Yue-Yeung combo lacks the required chemistry to make this film truly successful. On the hand, in terms of sequels it is twice the rarity that the second film is better than the prior and in this respect, Buff easily out-dux Puff. Now that’s an achievement. A good film, but just not great…

5

Neo rates it 7.5/10

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