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12 Golden Ducks

Keung Ho-Man, Wilfred Lau, Sandra Ng, Lo Hoi-Pang and Babyjohn Choi in 12 Golden Ducks.


Year: 2015
Director: Matthew Chow Hoi-Kwong
Producer: Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu
Writer: Matthew Chow Hoi-Kwong

Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu,Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Ivana Wong, Wyman Wong Wai-Man, Babyjohn Choi, Wilfred Lau Ho-Lung, Philip Keung Ho-Man, Lo Hoi-Pang, Lisa Lu Yan, Louis Koo Tin-Lok, Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung, Vicki Zhao Wei, Michelle Chen Yan-Xi, Eason Chan Yik-Shun, Isabella Leong, Joey Yung Tso-Yi, Lu Han, Michelle Loo, Simon Yam Tat-Wah, Carman Lee Yeuk-Tung, Chrissie Chau Sau-Na, Fiona Sit Hoi-Kei, Dada Chen, Louis Yuen Siu-Cheung, Joyce Cheng Yan-Yi, Pakho Chau Pak-Ho, Kelvin Kwan Chor-Yiu, Carlos Chan Ka-Lok, Michelle Wai, June Lam Siu-Ha, Hui Siu-Hung, 6 Wing, Derek Kwok Chi-Kin, Bonnie Xian, Wilson Yip Wai-Shun, Wylie Chiu, Fung Min-Hun

The Skinny: Entertaining male take on the Golden Chicken formula finds Sandra Ng in drag and servicing the ladies. Overall this is a mixed bag of funny, heartwarming scenes interspersed with flat or failed jokes – an outcome that’s to be expected for populist Lunar New Year fare. Better than most of this year’s Lunar New Year films but not as good as Golden Chickensss.
by Kozo:

What’s good for the chicken is good for the duck. Or something. Producer-actress Sandra Ng, who made happy hookers into a blockbuster franchise with the Golden Chicken movies, returns with a new wrinkle on the formula: Now it’s about the guys! In Hong Kong slang, prostitutes are known as “chickens” and gigolos are “ducks”, and so the male-centric version of Golden Chicken is called 12 Golden Ducks, with the lead duck played by none other than Sandra Ng in male drag – an inspired choice given Ng’s years of playing butch characters (e.g., in Portland Street Blues). It’s funny seeing Ng dressed up as male escort Future Cheung, complete with prosthetic abdominals and fake stubble, and making phallic jokes and dealing with impotence, but the extended gag only goes so far. The gimmick isn’t able to fully carry the film, leaving it to star cameos and sentimentality to do the heavy lifting. Can Sandra Ng and company make Ducks the equal of last year’s enormously-successful Golden Chickensss? Not totally, but their efforts do not go unrewarded.

As a boy, Future Cheung showed a natural gift for charming women, a talent he later used to work in clubs where he wholeheartedly served the ladies. However, one client shattered Future’s heart, leading to his present existence as a pot-bellied has-been hanging out in seedy Thai bars. Future’s former teacher Mr. Lo (Anthony Wong) manages to find him and bring him back to Hong Kong, and stresses that people want the old Future back. Thus, Future embarks on a quest to “get back what’s he’s lost”. Accompanied by three neophyte ducks (Babyjohn Choi, Wilfred Lau and Keung Ho-Man), Future reacquaints himself with the way of the duck, and meets unusual new people and also some old acquaintances. Somewhere along the way, Future finds purpose or fulfillment or success. Actually, he kind of gets all three – wow, the mega-mega happy ending! That sounds like a spoiler but it would be difficult to spoil such a loose and disconnected narrative. This story is less an actual story and more a framework for cameos and gags.

The jokes are hit or miss. There are fewer randy gags than in the previous films, e.g., no parodies of sexual techniques, which garnered many laughs in Golden Chickensss. There are inspired bits, too; the film draws a parallel between gigolos and men who offer legitimate services, whether it’s gym trainer Rocky (Louis Koo), who uses his looks to attract female clients, or Mr. Lo, who teaches Peking opera performance to ladies but subtly caresses his clients to hook them. Other sketches are star or shtick driven; one scene has Fiona Sit engage in politics-skewing role play, while another features Wyman Wong and Ivana Wong as a couple of gigolo gurus. Some vignettes opt for feels, like a middling subplot that pairs Babyjohn Choi with Isabella Leong as an oddball career woman. Another attempt at emotion involves superstar LLCC (Joey Yung); Future’s gigolo gang apply as her backup dancers only to get involved in a conflict between LLCC and her annoying husband (Louis Yuen Siu-Cheung). However, their story ends up being most notable for how interminable it is.

More success is had with a detour to Future’s old high school, where he meets old classmate Ma Chi-Kin (Nicholas Tse) for an awkward reunion. Loosely tying the whole thing together is an extended subplot involving Aunt May (Lisa Lu), an elderly acquaintance who requests the boys’ presence for her birthday. The climax is a cameo-laden montage set to the song “My Girl” that drips with sentimentality, but it does bring those familiar Golden Chicken emotions surging to the forefront. Though ostensibly about sex workers, the series is more about positive emotions and themes of determination and self-worth. Characters in the series frequently take stock and forge onward, choosing optimism over negativity (though being negative would be understandable given Hong Kong’s festering sociopolitical issues). Ducks follows the Golden path decently, as the characters learn to work hard and take risks in order to succeed (read: make money). These are universally pleasing themes and the film sells them without getting too mawkish, though it does come close sometimes.

Ducks is similar to Chickensss in that the most fun will be had by Hong Kong locals – or, to be more precise, Chinese versed in local culture and also greater China entertainment. Besides the already mentioned star cameos, long-absent actress Carman Lee meets up with Louis Koo in a reference to their pairing in the TV drama Return of the Condor Heroes from 1995. There’s also a highly publicized cameo from China popstar Lu Han that’ll get fangirls screaming but may not enchant the same audience that enjoys a 20 year-old drama reference. Whatever. 12 Golden Ducks is not consistent or impressive, and never reaches the heights of the hilarious and surprisingly poignant Golden Chickensss. However, the biggest problem with 12 Golden Ducks may simply be that the last movie was way better than expected. Lunar New Year films are usually about fun and froth and not actual quality – and with that in mind, 12 Golden Ducks succeeds and does so in glossy and agreeable fashion. What’s good for the chicken or duck can be good for us too. (Kozo, 2/2015)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Edko Films Ltd.
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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