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Dragon Reloaded

A couple of lobby cards from Dragon Reloaded.
Chinese: 龍咁威2: 皇母娘娘呢?
Year: 2005  
Director: Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu  
Producer: Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu  
Writer: Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu  
Cast: Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Miki Yeung Oi-Gan, Cheung Tat-Ming, Sam Lee Chan-Sam, Tang Chi-Fung, Mimi Chu Mi-Mi, James Wong Ka-Lok, Ken Lo Wai-Kwong, Kary Ng Yiu-Fei, Theresa Fu Wing, Candy Hau Woon-Ling
The Skinny: More antics from comedy superstar Ronald Cheng, which will likely prove amusing if you're a fan of Ronald Cheng. Those who profess never to get Hong Kong comedy should steer clear, but for what it is - cheap laughs with one of Hong Kong's few bankable stars - Dragon Reloaded does the job.
by Kozo:

Nobody claimed they wanted it, but Hong Kong Cinema is giving it to us anyway: a sequel to the 2003 surprise hit Dragon Loaded. A quick recap: in Dragon Loaded, wacky cop Lung Wai (Ronald Cheng) wasted time, made some faces, kicked some butt (he was supposedly an ace martial artist), and did nothing truly important or interesting. He also won the the heart of cuddly Stephy Tang despite looking like Ronald Cheng - an impressive feat indeed. The movie scored, making Cheng an instant comedy star. Now Cheng returns for Dragon Reloaded, a plotless comedy sequel that hinges on the exact same conceit as the original film. Basically, it's all about the star. If you can't stand Ronald Cheng, then Dragon Reloaded will not change your mind. But if you like him, then this can be fun stuff. Pick your side.

Lung Wai returns, along with pals Gold (Cheung Tat-Ming) and Hei (Sam Lee), though one wonders why they haven't been fired from the force yet. Aside from running a station house like a nightclub, the trio also appears on a "Hong Kong's Most Wanted" TV show, which is little more than another excuse to see Ronald Cheng in drag. The trio get uprooted for the sticks when they vacation to Golden Pond Village with former chief Tang (Tang Chi-Fung). However, they irk the rough and tough SDU/OCB squad, who are led by the steel-jawed Rock (James Wong Ka-Lok). The tough cops are after a local villager who stole a Goddess Statue, thereby bringing bad luck to the village and annoyance to people far and wide. During an ensuing chase, the cops almost get their man, but Lung Wai and his pals predictably get in the way. Rock gets pissed, and the cop trio gets punished.

Said punishment: take the place of the local police on Golden Pond Village to possibly find the criminal. This would imply some sort of assignment, but by the way these guys act, you can hardly tell that they're cops. Instead of actual work, the trio attempt to swindle the locals, hit on any female in sight, and basically mess around for a good ninety minutes. The highlights: they unearth a local ancestor for a quick Mr. Vampire reference, incur the wrath of the ever-mischievious locals, and engage in comic face-offs with local bully Tiger (Ken Lo, sporting terrible sideburns). Lung Wai also attempts to romance Miki Yeung, who takes over for Cookie bandmate Stephy Tang as the love interest du jour. Eventually stuff happens and the case gets solved, though actual police work is never in evidence. If you think that sounds like a plot, then you're an extremely forgiving person.

Still, using most Hong Kong comedies as evidence, it's obvious that plot is NOT the main issue here. The point of any Ronald Cheng comedy vehicle - and possibly any comedy directed by Wong Jing heir-apparent Vincent Kok - is simply shtick, shtick, and more shtick. Occasionally there are attempts at romance or other gooey feelings, but even then it's barely in evidence, as everything is so broadly played by Ronald Cheng that nothing seems to matter at all. True drama? Real emotions? Actual tension? None of it exists because Cheng punctuates everything with such eager-to-please comic gusto that he's basically smacking us over the head with a giant comedy-sized mallet. Cheng and Kok are in this for the cheapest laughs possible, and they mine local pop culture, old Hong Kong flicks and genres, and out-of-nowhere gags that sometimes manage to be surprisingly funny. Case in point: an inspired bit where the SDU/OCB guys name their operation the "Hong Kong Film Awards," and go by the codenames Wong Kar-Wai, Johnnie To, Wong Jing, and Tsui Hark. It's totally nonsensical and absolutely pointless, but hey, it's funny.

At least, it's funny part of the time. Comedy is hard, and again using most Hong Kong comedies as evidence, it's nearly impossible to hit the mark with any real consistency. Dragon Reloaded follows suit and sometimes proves interminable and downright uninteresting. Vincent Kok (who triple threats as director/producer/writer) doesn't exactly enhance his filmography, and really seems to have lost a step from his earlier pictures (Only Fools Fall in Love, Cause We Are So Young). Back then, it seemed that Kok would be able to handle comedy and occasional touches of real emotion, but his recent output has all been on the mo lei tau side. At the very least Kok is less annoying a director than Wong Jing, but by the same token, his work is less interesting, and almost bland because it doesn't reach the extremes that Wong's work does. Wong Jing can REALLY annoy with his work, but at least he's reaching you. Sometimes, Kok barely does that.

But the big factor here: Ronald Cheng. Hong Kong's comedy prince shows up in fine form, and though he can be annoying at times, he's really a very likable, competent comedy lead. Cheng possesses no shame about hamming it up, and possesses none of that pesky self-aggrandizing baggage many stars do. Hong Kong Cinema was once popularized by its self-effacing, likable stars, and Cheng seems cut from the same cloth. He's still a somewhat raw comedy performer, but he does possess enough charisma to be both laughable and likable, and he can engage an audience's emotions even when he's not cutting up. Cheng is enough to make Dragon Reloaded an amusing timekiller - and the fact that the film itself manages a few more laughs is almost a bonus. If you're not a fan of Cheng or nonsense comedies, then Dragon Reloaded will not convert you to the cause. But for what it is, Dragon Reloaded is occasionally amusing and even surprising - and really, it's hard to ask for more than that. (Kozo 2005)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
2-Disc Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese subtitles
Featurette, Outtakes

images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen