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The Mummy, Aged 19
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"This is what I get for using!"

Tsui Tin-Yau gets a hug in The Mummy, Aged 19.
Chinese: 五個嚇鬼的少年  
Year: 2002
Director: Wilson Yip Wai-Shun
Producer: Joe Ma Wai-Ho, Y.Y. Kong
Writer: Wilson Yip Wai-Shun, Derek Kwok Chi-Kin
Cast: Tsui Tin-Yau, Wong Yau-Nam, Tiffany Lee Lung-Yi, Wyman Wong Wai-Man, Hui Siu-Hung, Siu Yeah-Jim, Yuen King-Tan, Li Chun-Wai, Joe Lee Yiu-Ming, Matt Chow Hoi-Kwong, Chapman To Man-Chat, Fire Lee
The Skinny: Wilson Yip returns to form with this entertaining horror-comedy. The pace sags occasionally, and the film's lessons may be too earnestly cheesy for some, but this is a welcome bit of Hong Kong Cinema.
by Kozo:

After a promising start, director Wilson Yip seemed to have left his previous stomping grounds. His earlier films took typical Hong Kong genres and breathed new—and frequently unexpected—life into them. The same could not be said for more recent works like the ill-conceived Skyline Cruisers, or the average Dry Wood Fierce Fire. Thankfully, he's returned to form with The Mummy, Aged 19, a new horror-comedy starring those kids from the boy band Shine. While not as satisfying as Bio-Zombie (a likely comparison for this film), it still rounds into an entertaining and welcome Hong Kong film.

Tin-Yau (Tsui Tin-Yau) is a go-nowhere high school grad with a sickeningly wholesome family that make the Bradys seem like a model of restraint. He's changed his name from Bobo, as it's an embarrassing name which his father (Hui Siu-Hung) seems to have no problem using in public. Tin-Yau makes it his mission to be away from home as much as possible, either hanging with pal Nam (Wong Yau-Nam) or working to pay for a new apartment. After being fired from the library, he scores a job as night watchman for a residence used to store the owner's bizarre collection of artifacts. Two of these artifacts are mummies which should be dormant. However, they're really not. Guess what happens.

The mummies actually shouldn't have been awakened, but your usual variety of movie-like circumstances bring about their resurrection. Tin-Yau and Nam have a falling out over Priscilla (Tiffany Lee), a pretty Christian who also functions as "exposition girl." She's studying to be an archaeologist, which means she provides the bulk of the film's pseudo-mythology. That mythology involves rainy nights, a triangular seal, and more importantly, how to free a human from a mummy's spirit. Tin-Yau becomes host to one of the toilet-papered undead, which threatens to destroy his social life and his prospects of living. Luckily there's a wacky priest (an overacting Wyman Wong) who has knowledge of the greatest weapon of all: love. And he isn't afraid to use it.

The idea that "love conquers all" is invoked on more than one occasion in this film, which will probably annoy most people born post-1975. Tin-Yau is somewhat of a jerk, and his mummy-experience is meant to teach him some necessary lessons about respecting his friends, his family and probably small animals. This type of fuzzy sentimentality usually induces groans, but Wilson Yip tweaks things with an offbeat sensibility that makes the overly-sappy lesson into an entertaining one. He manages a fun, irreverent tone that simultanenously reveres and ridicules his maudlin sentiments.

Helping things are the performances, which aren't noteworthy, but fit the film well. Popstar youngsters Tsui Tin-Yau and Wong Yau-Nam have refreshing screen presences, partly because they have yet to bring offscreen baggage to their onscreen personas. Neither qualifies as an out-and-out star, but they handle their parts well. Able support is provided by fun bit players Wyman Wong, Chapman To, Hui Siu-Hung and Yuen King-Tan, who sports a nifty Jackie-O hairdo. If there's a weak link in the cast, it's new idol Tiffany Lee, who doesn't really seem to be acting. Then again, for most popstar-actors, initial lack of acting ability is par for the course.

The film does stumble occasionally. The pace can sometimes be lackadaisical, and the climax of the film drags on longer than it has to. Also, the film lacks truly engaging characters, which is unusual for a Wilson Yip film. His best genre work, like Bullets Over Summer or Bio-Zombie, managed to sneak in some unusual and affecting character work among the requisite blood and bullets. The Mummy, Aged 19 feels particularly lightweight by comparison, but that's a minor quibble. It's apparent that the filmmakers weren't aspiring to make a masterpiece here, and the film really is nothing more than an entertaining, creative little movie which provides some offbeat Hong Kong Cinema fun. And considering everything else that gets released nowadays, their efforts are more than welcome. (Kozo 2003)

Notes: WARNING! Once again, Mei Ah has checked quality control at the door. The English subtitles become mistimed for a good forty-five minutes, meaning that a title appears moments before the corresponding line is actually said. Those fluent in Cantonese will be fine, but those not will be screwed. The VCD is fine, though.

9th Annual Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards
Recommended Film
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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image courtesy of Mei Ah Laserdisc Co., Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen