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2009 Hong Kong Movies that I didn’t review - Part 1

This past year Kevin Ma helped me a lot by reviewing new Hong Kong movies for He reviewed 7-8 major Hong Kong or China releases, freeing me up to write about important stuff like FIT LOVER and HAPPILY EVER AFTER. Someone somewhere must be happy.

Karena Lam, star of FIT LOVER, approves:

In turn, we approve of Karena Lam’s dress.

It’s great that Kevin helped out because he has a burgeoning career as a freelance writer to tend to, and yet he’ll still take the time to help out a rapidly-becoming-irrelevant website like this one. His loyalty and/or pity is appreciated.

However, I still have an opinion about those 7 or 8 films that he reviewed, and for the 5-6 people who wonder what I actually thought I’ll write about them here in glorious, informal blog-speak. Normally when I write reviews I try to maintain a consistent tone that’s aimed towards the reader, but here I’m free to be the self-serving, arrogant and annoying jerk that I am in person. If you’ve met me, you know what I’m talking about.

“Damn that Kozo! Why does he have to review our movies!”

So, starting at the beginning of the year:


“This ring takes care of last night, correct?”

If this film didn’t exist, POKER KING would be the official cinema tourism ad for Macau, but since it does, POKER KING should slink away in embarrassment. LOOK FOR THE STAR is the glossy story of how Andy Lau knows a bunch of people who are rich or poor and also in love. Sadly, they’ve also lost love, so they appear on a cringeworthy game show and admit their love to the one who got away, all in front of a national audience. Making matters worse, the show is hosted by Cheung Tat-Ming.

One of the people who’s pining for love is played by Zhang Hanyu, who possesses more integrity than any actor EVER. The one he pines for is played by Denise “HOCC” Ho, and their rich girl-poor guy romance is actually quite enjoyable, compensating for the rather perfunctory one involving Lam Ka-Wah. Overall, nothing that happens here is noteworthy, and the stars, aside from Zhang “I could play Obama” Hanyu, possess much less charisma than the people who populated the nineties variants on these types of Lunar New Year flicks.

But, those films didn’t have Andy Lau. Here, Lau basically plays himself as a super billionaire who falls in love with lower class dancer Shu Qi, but their uneven incomes cause a potential rift in the fabric of reality. Everything is, of course, resolved predictably and happily, and with an amount of suspense comparable to a game of marbles. Andrew Lau directed LOOK FOR A STAR, meaning it looks absolutely fabulous and possesses glib, easily-digestible emotions.

The saving grace for this thing: Shu Qi, who’s shockingly good while acting in a genre that usually doesn’t call for or even deserve good acting. Too bad about the ending, which is interminable and a real drag. Thanks to that, I give LOOK FOR A STAR 4 out of 10 smarmy Andy Laus.

Apologies to Heroic Cinema for stealing their rating system.

Kevin Ma’s review


Love Connected
“We’re in another Patrick Kong film?
Our careers are f*cked! Just shoot me now.”

I probably would have reviewed this local romance way back in early 2009 if not for the fact that I fell asleep during the crucial plot twist that revealed that A) someone is really a cheating bastard when they appeared not to be, B) someone appeared to be a cheating bastard but really wasn’t, or C) Stephy Tang really wasn’t deaf, and instead pretended to be to hide from the numerous suitors who think she resembles a Japanese AV star. To find out which of the three twists actually does occur, see the movie.

As Patrick Kong-directed films go, LOVE CONNECTED is not among his worst (FORGIVE AND FORGET) or his best (L FOR LOVE, L FOR LIES), but it resembles them enough that one would be hard-pressed not to call it a successful endeavor for what it is. The film has loads of barely-known popstars (including the first appearance of chipmunk-cheeked teen singer G.E.M) and is very much geared towards locals, in that it plays to its Hong Kong demographics fears and concerns. Also, the film takes place at Tsuen Wan’s fab “green” shopping mall City Walk - which must mean something to somebody.

Is it a good film? Absolutely not, and Patrick Kong’s inability to put something professional-looking together is still a major problem. His films may be cheap, but do they always have to look so terrible? Still, the trailer for LOVE CONNECTED, which parodies Benny Chan’s CONNECTED and features DJ Sammy as Louis Koo, is totally awesome. I give LOVE CONNECTED 3 out of 10 deaf Stephys.

Kevin Ma’s review.


Very Short Life
“We’re going to make you watch MURDERER if it’s the last thing we do.”

When this came out in Hong Kong Cinemas, my mother was visiting and I didn’t think it would be appropriate to take her to a Category III chiller about child abuse starring Samuel Pang. At the same time, the film was directed by property developer Dennis Law, meaning it should not be ignored, lest my housing estate collapse mysteriously. I rolled the dice and skipped it anyway, choosing to take Mom to see that dreamy Takeshi Kaneshiro in K-20. I think I made the right choice. In other news, my housing estate fell apart last week.

Flash forward to the end of 2009 and I still haven’t seen A VERY SHORT LIFE. The DVD has been sitting around waiting for me to get to it, but I’ve promised myself to watch the Christian film TEAM OF MIRACLE first, not to mention all those still not-seen TACTICAL UNIT films. As I still haven’t seen those either, I can only conclude that I’ve failed miserably at keeping up with my DVDs, and should hereby be fired from the Official Coaltion of Cool Internet Film Reviewers, which I don’t belong to anyway after they rejected my application for membership back in 2003.

My grade for A VERY SHORT LIFE: incomplete. Personally, I give myself 0 out of 10 abusive Samuel Pangs.

Kevin Ma’s review


I Corrupt All Cops
“I do know how to make films, really! No, not the probe!”

Wong Jing says he held onto this script for years because he wanted to get it done the right way. Points to the big man for eyeing quality, but if he really wanted the best for his screenplay, why didn’t he get someone else to direct it?

Wong’s limitations as a filmmaker are readily apparent in I CORRUPT FOR COPS, e.g. inconsistent acting, lousy staging, poor plot development and transparent dialogue. For example, when one character meets another, the dialogue goes something like this:

Hey, who’s that guy?

Oh, that’s [Character Name].
He’s been a cop on the force for 10 years.
He’s loyal and trustworthy, but kind of weak.
He’s in his mid-thirties and of medium height and build.
His wife is played by Kate Tsui. Think of a Eason Chan-type.

(looks directly at camera)
Hmm, thanks. I hope other people can
now understand this person as I do.

Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but it’s very nearly there. These debits help mar what’s otherwise an entertaining and meaty, if not sometimes exaggerated crime drama. There’s lots to enjoy in I CORRUPT ALL COPS, from the cool period detail to the minor characters and key plot twists. It’s just not Best Picture material, and could have been a hell of a lot more had someone more detailed and considerate of theme and character been at the helm.

Still, Wong Jing is a businessman and that’s what he does here: business. The film ends with a salute to the Handover and how corruption afterwards is nonexistent. Sure, like that’s really true. Regardless, I’m sure that reference — along with the visual image of the Hong Kong-under-China flag flying proudly in the wind — made some people out there happy. More specifically, the people up north.

My rating for I CORRUPT ALL COPS: 6 out of 10 overacting Tony Leungs.

Kevin Ma’s review


5 Responses to “2009 Hong Kong Movies that I didn’t review - Part 1”

  1. Wongsaurus Says:

    I Corrupt All Cops was good just to see the Jingster’s acting. Big Tony’s portrayal of a corrupted cop also ranks right up there with his growing rogues gallery of despicable characters. This movie wasn’t quality but is good enough for me to start a discussion in the forum.

  2. V Says:

    Zhang “I could play Obama” Hanyu- I like that! :D

    Look For a Star was pleasing to the eye at least half of the time, but the story was very uninspired. Yet another case of inflated expectations.

  3. Timo Says:

    How you are merrily avoiding any of the remaining TACTICAL UNIT entries during all these months, Kozo, is a pretty heinous act seeing as they were among the most solid releases of last year (with NO WAY OUT being Lawrence Lau’s best outing since MY NAME IS FAME). But whatever floats your boat, he.

  4. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    @Timo, my inability to watch the TACTICAL UNIT movies is disappointing, but calling it a “heinous act” is a bit extreme. I’d reserve “heinous act” for stealing your pal’s wife or killing Jake Gyllenhaal. At least I saw every film by Cheng Fen-Fen (who?) this year.

    I still intend on catching the TACTICAL UNITS, and they’re at the very top of my DVD pile. The problem is I haven’t touched my DVD pile in months, what with hiring and firing, traveling, and assorted non-movie watching stuff occupying me. I would write about it, but it’s not Asian Cinema-related, so best not to.

  5. Anthony H. Says:

    I could not believe that this was given such a high rating. This was by far one of the worst movies I have seen and I like almost all the actors in this. This movie followed absolutely no narrative structure, the movie was narrated by Eason, switch gears and followed other characters and closed with him. I can’t believe the actors signed up for a movie like this. The characters were so shallow and were not developed at all. There was so much potential with this movie. They could have spent a little more money on the art direction and script. Instead of what could have been an intense story about corrupt cops and tensions amongst their own, this movie was worse than a lifetime movie. That is saying alot.

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