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Kung Fu Angels

Kung Fu Jungle

Karena Ng hangs around in Kung Fu Angels.

Chinese: 青春鬥
Year: 2014

Herman Yau Lai-To


John Chong


Edmond Wong


Tony Leung Siu-Hung


Karena Ng, Jones Xu, Alex Lam Tak-Shun, Janelle Sing, Zhang Chu-Chu, Tats Lau Yi-Tat, Raymond Wong Bak-Ming, Song Jia, Johnson Yuen

The Skinny:

Pegasus Motion Pictures combines a youth comedy, a martial arts movie and a sports film into a bewilderingly bad whole. Really, Kung Fu Angels is the pits. Probably Herman Yau’s worst effort in 10 years.

by Kozo:

Herman Yau is arguably Hong Kong’s most underrated filmmaker, but when he makes movies like Kung Fu Angels you can see why some people might not buy that thinking. Yau cashes a check for this Pegasus Motion Pictures embarrassment, and turns in probably his worst directorial effort since the 2003 crapfest Dating Death, a cheap horror cash-in starring EEG idols and a couple of the Cookies. Kung Fu Angels seems like it’s targeting a similar demographic since it’s also about a bunch of young people, though some of the actors – particularly male leads Jeremy Tsui and Alex Lam – are far older than the characters they’re playing. Putting aside the need to push retread idols and your friend’s kid (Alex Lam is the son of singer George Lam), is it really that hard to find age-appropriate Hong Kong actors?

At least the lead actress, 21 year-old Pegasus Entertainment starlet Karena Ng, fits the film. Ng is Nancy Ho, a former star volleyball player who’s enrolled into South Sports International University by her dad (Pegasus Motion Pictures honcho Raymond Wong in a cameo). Life at SSIU sucks for Nancy because there’s no air conditioning, the “healthy” food is tasteless and bland, and her roommate May (Zhang Chu-Chu) is an introvert with an unsightly birthmark. Luckily, Nancy meets dreamy Tom Man (Jeremy Tsui), the head of the SSIU Wushu club. Nancy immediately targets Tom for boy stalking and joins the club, but runs afoul of Tom’s co-captain Tina Fong (Janelle Sing), who doesn’t like the competition for Tom’s affections. Meanwhile, Nancy’s nerdy cousin Ken (Alex Lam) has his four-eyed gaze fixed on the clueless Tina.

Naturally there are issues of love and maturity involved. Kung Fu Angels is the hackneyed story of a vaguely immature young woman who learns to take responsibility and work with others because of love, friendship and the words printed on the script the actress got from her agent. Our heroes get antagonized by students from the Alpine Wushu Team, leading to an insipid grudge match where an overmatched Nancy must go toe-to-toe with the Alpine Team’s gloweringly evil team leader (Johnson Yuen). No, that’s not a spoiler because the film opens at the match before flashing back 6 months to witness the uninteresting events leading to that point. Besides Nancy’s quest for love, May learns self-confidence through a dance competition and Nancy learns to like the school’s lousy cafeteria food. All of this comes courtesy of the writer of Ip Man.

Cutting to the chase, Kung Fu Angels is enormously terrible even for audiences who enjoy bad cinema. Possible positives: Karena Ng is an attractive and exceptionally thin young lady whose stunt doubles are obvious, and sometimes she bares her navel as fan service. As the title indicates, there are occasional fight sequences, most of which use wires and obvious fakery. The choreography is OK and some of the supporting players seem to know their moves, but the fighting is far from hard-hitting or exhilarating. Children may be okay with the action, but will probably feel less for the SSIU campus, which is drab and unattractive despite having decent-sized rooms and facilities (the film was shot at a Shenzen university). Background extras are hilariously bad, which makes for some unintentional fun – though sadly, not enough to actually recommend this movie.

Everything else about Kung Fu Angels gets a big ol’ raspberry. Alex Lam is annoying and Karena Ng performs poorly in the lead thanks to her poor comic timing and unconvincing bad attitude. Other actors either fail to distinguish themselves or flat out stink, while the action is rudimentary and perfunctory. Story and direction are the pits; there’s a generic sports movie in Kung Fu Angels, but the film fails to establish any momentum. Scenes begin and end limply, many with flaccid jokes or awkward dialogue. Love stories are lame and the character arcs are the stuff of junior high creative writing classes. Kung Fu Angels is best seen as background chatter when it’s already on TV and you’re too lazy to change channels because you’re busy clipping your toenails. This is for people who demand the absolute minimum from their entertainment. Please don’t be one of those people. (Kozo, 12/2014)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Vicol Entertainment Ltd.
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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