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6 AM

(left) Steven Cheung and Kenny Kwan, and (right) Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi.
Chinese: 大無謂  
  Year: 2004  
  Director: Adrian Kwan Shun-Fai  
  Producer: Tsang Kan-Cheong, Albert Lee
  Writer: Tsang Kan-Cheong
  Cast: Kenny Kwan Chi-Bun, Steven Cheung Chi-Hung, Katie Kwok Sin-Hung, Ray Lui Leung-Wai, Cheung Tat-Ming, Tats Lau Yi-Tat, Chan Wai-Man, Law Kar-Ying,Wu Fung, Lau Shun, Yau Yuet-Ching, Roderick Lam Chung-Kei, Bonnie Wong Man-Wai, Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin, Gillian Chung Yun-Tung, Jeff Lau Chun-Wai
The Skinny: This EEG-funded ode to the Boy'z is probably Heaven for their fans, but for everyone else it's another reason not to go to the cinema. A well-meaning, but utterly pointless and even insufferable vehicle for two kids who probably deserve better. Even if the Twins make a cameo appearance, who cares?
by Kozo:

The Emperor Entertainment Group guns for the Cinema Hall of Shame with the tired popstar product 6 AM. Starring Kenny Kwan and Steven Cheung, better known to their legion of screaming fans as Boy'z, this Hong Kong Cinema hodgepodge of triad satire, movie parody, and—most distressingly—inspirational youth drama is a nightmare for those expecting quality in their moviegoing. The smart money is that anyone with an ounce of good sense skipped this movie, and if you're one of those people then you should treat yourself to a bucket of ice cream as a reward. If you caught this on DVD hoping it would be good, deduct a point. If you saw it in the theater, turn yourself in or volunteer to have your head examined. If the doctor uses a crowbar, he could be doing you a favor.

Bowl (Kenny Kwan) and Noodle (Steven Cheung) are best buds who get into a high concept predicament that could only have been dreamt up by a consortium of screenwriters. When wannabe tough guy Cheung Tat-Ming chases after Bowl and Noodle—the two guys offended him when they fought over a single dollar—the two escape from certain wedgies by making a deal with triad mini-boss Ganker (official triad actor Chan Wai-Man). There's a big gang powwow going on and Ganker needs "extras" to manufacture the appearance of a larger gang. The big deal: a triad tough named Razor needs to be disciplined, and the big boss (Ray Lui in an embarrassing cameo) is holding a lottery to see who the "lucky" ones are. Duh, Bowl and Noodle end up with the "Glory Mission", which comes with $300,000HK and a possible ticket to the morgue or prison, depending on how skillfully they pull off the job. Presumably, those rooting for death/prison are not Boy'z fans.

Obviously, Bowl and Noodle aren't for a quick initiation in the Young and Dangerous world, but they seemed resigned to their fate. Disobeying the triads would mean certain death, so why not go for the 10% survival chance by taking on Razor? However, they have until 6:00 am, which means plenty of time for wacky hijinks, illegal gambling, impersonating policemen, undue personal reflection, and most important of all, a Twins cameo! The Boy'z's EEG stablemates turn up as themselves in a heavily-marketed cameo that amounts to all of five minutes of screentime. It seems Noodle has a crush on Gillian Chung, so he uses a huge portion of their 300K purse to buy his way onto their latest film, a costume comedy that has no apparent script, and basically looks like crap. It's kind of odd that a film starring the Boy'z would make a movie starring the Twins look like total garbage, but that's exactly what 6 AM does. To the EEG employees behind this: way to cover your ass.

6 AM was written by Tsang Kan-Cheong (co-screenwriter of Shaolin Soccer and Kung-Fu Hustle), and it's possible that he was attempting a satirical take on EEG's usual filmmaking output by saying that they make crap. If that's the case, then we applaud him, but such sly subversion was probably not intended. It would be great if Tsang Kan-Cheong and director Adrian Kwan were covertly biting the hand that feeds them, but 6 AM has one major flaw that nullifies its satire of EEG's filmmaking patterns: it, too, is complete crap. It's kind of hard to knock someone else when your own film is a travesty of filmmaking, but that's just what happens here. Adrian Kwan—who also directed the Christian biopic The Miracle Box, and the egregious feel-good comedy If U Care—loads 6 AM with trite existential musings on karma and the value of our daily lives. The gospel according to 6 AM: instead of spending time doing foolish crap, youngsters should seize the day, honor their parents, clean their rooms, donate to the Red Cross, do their homework, and probably eat their vegetables. All fine lessons that are great for an afterschool special, but unfortunately 6 AM was a theatrical feature that you had to pay for. And if you did, you paid dearly.

Despite being well-meaning, decently produced, and full of standard HK Cinema supporting players (Tats Lau, Law Kar-Ying, etc.), 6 AM is tired and interminable, and only marginally diverting. The Boy'z themselves are all right—until the filmmakers submarine them by making the film embarrassingly emotional. When the going gets tough, the Boy'z get to emote gamely by crying over friendship, family, righteousness, and probably the current status of their careers, but the filmmakers don't earn such teary pathos. Adrian Kwan is a director who wears his heart on his sleeve, and does so without any discernible wit, style, or filmmaking dexterity. If anything, his intentions are annoyingly obvious, and full of such wannabe inspirational emotions that audience alienation is all but guaranteed. There's a difference between making a film and actual filmmaking, and it's apparent that the makers of Boy'z don't understand that difference.

To be fair, diehard fans of Boy'z probably don't understand that difference either, and the 100 minutes of Boy'z heaven that 6 AM provides may be enough for them. If that's your deal, then congratulations: you've just lined Albert Yeung and EEG's pockets with even more cash, and given them a reason to make 7 AM. In the end, EEG has rendered the mass audience superfluous by creating a filmgoing experience that specifically targets a very small demographic and absolutely nobody else. 6 AM will not make you a Boy'z fan, and if it does, then I worry for your sanity. I also worry for my own, because I actually watched this film with the intent of reviewing it. Perhaps what EEG has really done is make film criticism totally superfluous, because nobody but a Boy'z fan should even attempt to watch this film. The true lesson of 6 AM: even film critics shouldn't watch everything. (Kozo 2005)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Asia Video Publishing
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen