July 25th, 2010
The title says it all: This coverage covers the three films I watched in the last two weeks, all sucking (for the lack of a more eloquent word) in varied degrees:
Kung Fu Hip Hop 2 (2010, China, Dir: Lau Bao Xian)
It’s like the Hawaiian version of ONG BAK
Get those fingers resurrected. The terrible KUNG FU HIP HOP was elevated into “so bad it’s good” territory with its infamously bad English subtitles. Sadly, the screening the official LoveHKFilm movie group (which sometimes go by other names like “The Gang of Film” or “People Who Watch Movies so You Don’t Have To”) attended included no English subtitles. Fortunately for the Chinese-impaired, the story’s plot is so simple that they didn’t need to know the dialogue to understand most of the plot.
Sadly, for the rest of us, we had to sit through the dialogue.
A sequel in name, KUNG FU HIP HOP 2 comes with a brand-new cast led by Wilson Chen, Zhou Qiqi (who shows off quite a bit of, ahem…talent in the film), Prince (of Taiwanese boy group Lollipop) and Michael “Laughing Gor” Tse (former backup dancer and the winner of a television celebrity dancing contest). For fans of any of these actors, the film is practically review-proof. This is especially the case for Prince (no relation to the artist who formerly goes by that name), who seems to believe that the harder he squints his eyes, the better his acting is. The Prince fans that made up most of the film’s audience thought that it was charming to the max, which would make me the old geezer.
In addition to the film’s weak acting, directing, and editing, director Lau also makes the misguided decision to hire real dancers to go up against Chen, Prince, and his dance crew. As the actors stay in the back while the other dancers do the real dancing, the opponents - in more case than one - end up performing even better than the main stars and still manage to lose the competition. They must’ve gotten the judges from FIFA.
Nevertheless, the dancing is just about the only redeemable thing left in this film, as even the unintentionally hilarious humor of the first film is gone. I probably should go easier on it, since it’s just disposable, teen-oriented time filler. Then again, any teen should have better things to fill their time than this.
Actually, I take back about the film having only one redeemable thing - the film features Wilson Chen doing parkour. Price of admission: earned.
Triple Tap (Hong Kong, 2010, Dir: Derek Yee)
“That Golden Rock guy is just coming around the corner…”
As I mentioned on my Twitter, Derek Yee said that this isn’t really his film, but a film for the commercial audiences of China. Audience elsewhere might be wondering why a film so cerebral and so talky would ever be commercial, but the film has now topped Chinese box office for two weeks in a row, showing that Yee and his two co-writers ended up being quite successful.
A continuation of DOUBLE TAP (which Yee produced), TRIPLE TAP deals with similar themes about human nature and the power of the gun, except it does so in a far more talky, didactic manner than the first film. DOUBLE TAP was a tense, violent action film that went a little far in portraying its psychologically abnormal villain (played by an over-the-top Leslie Cheung). TRIPLE TAP is a film that pretends to be clever by hiding information from its audiences, and ends up frustrating that very same audience by not going anywhere for a very long time.
Its characters are shallow, unconvincing, and worst of all, bland. Louis Koo the financial genius is boring, even when he hits the point of insanity; Daniel Wu has little charisma as the righteous cop; the return of the Alex Fong character from DOUBLE TAP and ONE NITE IN MONGKOK was good, but even he’s forced to indulge in Yee’s silly depiction of crime solving reminiscent of Simon Yam the Jedi Cop in BLACK RANSOM. Running a full two hours, Yee stretches the story to the point of boredom without much to get its audience to its inevitable ending. For a film by any other filmmaker, this is a failure of a film. For a Derek Yee, it’s a betrayal against audiences outside China. There may not be a billion of us, but we pay to see your movie, too.
Flirting Scholar 2 (China/Hong Kong, 2010, Dir. Lee Lik-Chi)
Director Lee Lik-Chi wants you to remember this movie…
The problem is he wants you to do it while watching this.
The worse Chinese (intentional) comedy since HERE COMES FORTUNE is an embarrassing affair for everyone involved, and the fault all go to director Lee Lik-Chi and its producer Charles Heung. The prequel, which follows the adventures of Tang Bofu (played in the original by Stephen Chow, who we now know should take credit for the first film’s success) before he became one of the four famous scholars, rides on the fact that the first film was funny by recycling jokes that no longer work, especially when the actors from the first film are now 15 years older. All of it is exhausting to watch, and like a clown hopping all over the place to get you to laugh to no avail, it’s exhausting to watch.
It’s hard to point the finger at the actors, though, since many of the actors from the first film and various cameos are just people looking for a payday and did what they were told to do. Star Huang Xiaoming tries his best to do comedy, but he’s obviously in no position to be in a HK-style mo lei tau comedy. Zhang Jingchu, who has been sharing promotional efforts between AFTERSHOCK and this film, is so good here that the only way she could’ve pulled off this performance is if she pretended that she was in a much better movie.
There have been reports that Lee Lik-Chi was kicked out of the editing room because he wanted to make the film more of a romantic tragedy than a mo lei tau comedy. Sorry, buddy, the best decision you or anyone would’ve made is to have not made this movie at all.