a promising start, director Wilson Yip seemed to have
left his previous stomping grounds. His earlier films
took typical Hong Kong genres and breathed newand
frequently unexpectedlife 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)