The first twenty minutes of Stephen Chowís latest film
are befuddling in that they appear to head nowhere.
The non-sensical belly laughs of his usual antics are
gone. Instead we get a bare minimum plot and unfamiliar
characters. Then it gets better.
Chow is Wan Tin-Sau, a professional
extra whose attention to his craft make him unbearable
to work with. Twice he gets banned from the set of the
latest action picture from action star Sister Cuckoo
(Karen Mok). Enter Lau Piu-Piu (Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi),
a coarse club girl who approaches Sau for acting lessons
to better her ďprofessionalĒ career. He helps her, but
not without some difficulty, and they begin a small
romance. However certain truths conspire to keep them
apart and Sau finds himself alone - until he gets a
call from Sister Cuckoo, who wants him for her next
He accepts, but explaining
the plot in such a straightforward manner can only make
the film sound boring and aimless. In fact, itís anything
but - if you can deal with what itís trying to do.
Aside from being surprisingly benign, itís also remarkably
sentimental. At first glance, itís just a disjointed
parody of various films, but beneath that lies a strangely
moving character drama.
More to the point, itís all
about one character: Wan Tin-Sau. His incredible love
of acting make him a laughingstock, but itís that dedication
that ultimately changes his life, bringing him both
love and respect in unexpected ways. The same can be
said for Piu-Piu, who chooses love over money, and is
quite compelling despite her stock character. Credit
should be given to newcomer Cecilia Cheung Pak-Chi,
who had the unenviable task of replacing Shu Qi, and
still manages to bring a remarkable emotional depth
to her character.
Still, the film hinges on Stephen
Chow and he really comes through. His comedic prowess
allows the film the ability to swiftly change from slapstick
to romance to self-reflexive satire without skipping
a beat. In fact, the film works best as an extension
of Chow, challenging what we would like him to be vs.
what he wishes to show us. For the casual viewer, this
film means and probably does nothing, but for audiences
who have watched Stephen Chow from the beginning, this
is a funny and affecting movie. (Kozo 2000)