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Nothing is Impossible



Dayo Wong and Cherrie Ying in Nothing is Impossible.

Chinese: 情意拳拳
Year: 2006  
Director: Lam Wah-Chuen
Cast: Dayo Wong Chi-Wah, Cherrie Ying Choi-Yi, Debbie Goh, Andy On Chi-Kit, Lam Kwok-Bun, Leung Ka-Yan, Tin Kai-Man, Joe Cheung Tung-Cho, Lin Wei, Ken Wong Hap-Hei, Hiro Hayama, Chung Fat, Zuki Lee Si-Pui, Asuka Higuchi, Jessica Xu, Tony Leung Siu-Hung, Chik King-Man, Bob Lam
The Skinny: Better than expected, though the measure of that is exceptionally relative. Fans of Cherrie Ying and Dayo Wong are probably sold, as is anyone who enjoys watching drinking game competitions. Everyone else should probably hit a real bar instead to bemoan the continuing decline of Hong Kong Cinema.
 
Review
by Kozo:

 Are Hong Kong drinking games really worthy of a full-length feature film? Who the hell really knows, but they made a movie about them anyway. Deal with it. Nothing is Impossible is the gambling film-like tale of a drinking game zero (Cherrie Ying) who graduates to fists-flying hero. However, the fists in question seldom land on someone else, and instead are used to outsmart, redirect, or just plain annoy people. Called "Speed Fists" in the subtitles (or Cai Mui in Cantonese), these drinking games require players to use hands, fingers, body movements, and plenty of yelling to one-up their opponents. The loser downs a pint or fifteen, while the winner gloats and gets to insult the loser with all the snarky Cantonese insults they can muster. Woohoo! Obviously, everyone's competitive juices must be flowing after that description. There'll be a sign up sheet later.

Trying to fool us into believing that anyone would desire supremacy at Speed Fists is a stretch, so the filmmakers hand us a plot instead. Vivian Siu (Cherrie Ying) is a successful professional tutor, who sells her lessons - as well as her photogenic wares - to Hong Kong's in-need-of-education youth. The background: in Hong Kong, professional tutors have a strange form of celebrity that gets their Photoshopped mugs splashed onto billboards and the sides of buses. The practice is sometimes dubious, as some tutors are more known for their physical qualities rather than their ability to help kids make the grade. Nothing is Impossible could have gone for some satire on this subject, especially since Cherrie Ying is photogenic enough to ensure heavy enrollment in such pay-for-education courses. However, the film doesn't go there, opting out of any satire for its wannabe inspirational gambling film plotline.

But I digress. Back to the plot: Vivian gets dragged into the world of Speed Fists when she finds her boyfriend Jason (Andy On) cavorting with the local Speed Fists champion Mango (leggy Debbie Goh). After getting humiliated by Mango in a game of 15-20 (the most common drinking game), Vivian joins up with Mango's former partner Turtle (Dayo Wong), proprietor of Turtle Castle bar, and a former Speed Fists champ himself. Vivian wants Turtle to train her into a Speed Fist expert in order to show up Mango, but Turtle has plenty of issues that get in the way, including a crappy ex-wife, a wayward son, and mounting bills on Turtle Castle. Vivian has zero issues initially, but because she's so adamant about becoming a Speed Fists queen, she takes up a second job in Turtle's bar, thereby risking her regular job (they aren't too keen on one of their tutors slinging drinks on the side), plus possibly disappointing her father (Leung Ka-Yan). With the next championship approaching, will Vivian become skilled enough to take down Mango, win back her boyfriend, and presumably keep her teaching job?

The answer to that last question may be irrelevant, because in the process of working at Turtle's bar, Vivian discovers the "joy" of Speed Fists. Quantifying that joy is hard to do without sounding silly, but basically, Vivian learns to love the game. She becomes so absorbed in the world of Speed Fists that it becomes her obsession. Before long, she's throwing herself into the high-stakes world of professional Speed Fists with every inch of her body - including her soon-to-be-in-danger liver. Yes, there are tough lessons that Vivian must learn on the way to Speed Fist supremacy, including how to deal with the stress of too much alcohol, as well as the threat of public ridicule for dumping a teaching job for a life of binge drinking in a navel-baring waitress outfit. Cue expected message about how dropping respectable jobs for irresponsible alcohol-imbibing competitions is a poor career choice.

However, that message belongs in another, less commercial film. Director Lam Wah-Cheun once made the interesting, though thematically simplistic Runaway Pistol, which chronicled the journey of a used firearm in sometimes absurd fashion. Despite its one-note lesson, Runaway Pistol contained a genuine attempt at a social message. Here, there is no social message, merely another variation on the gambling film/martial arts parody that typifies many works from Wong Jing. True to those genres, there are varying levels of Speed Fist technique, sometimes practiced by hidden masters in rural areas of Hong Kong. Seeing Vivian meet and learn from these masters can be amusing stuff, and there's even an odd fascination in seeing the drinking games in action - though that may be because they're so fast and furious that the uninitiated are probably racking their brains trying to decipher what these games are all about. Either that, or they're marveling at the parade of Hong Kong Cinema bit players, including some who haven't been seen in years. And if those things don't prove interesting, there's always Cherrie Ying's naked navel to gawk at. There's something for everyone here.

What isn't here is a movie necessarily worth recommending. Nothing is Impossible is a mix of standard commercial clichés and parodies, including a perfunctory romance between Dayo Wong and Cherrie Ying, plus the Top Gun-like moment where a character feels like quitting because their talent may have resulted in a fatality. Yes, someone manages to kill someone through a drinking game, which could actually be interesting if the film weren't so throwaway. In the end, everyone comes together for the big drinking competition, which manages to solve personal, professional, financial, and possibly even legal issues in a 20-minute marathon of fists-flying Speed Fists games - which, amusingly enough, is covered like the World Cup on every television in Hong Kong. The ridiculousness of that is too huge to mention, so it may be better just to sum things up this way: Nothing is Impossible is mildly amusing stuff that warrants a skip from anyone expecting challenging, affecting, or possibly even average-quality cinema. It's not blindingly bad, but it's definitely unnecessary.

On the positive end, the film does present another chance for Cherrie Ying to expand on her comic repertoire. The Johnnie To regular is a likable comedic performer who can bring charm, wit, and sex appeal to even a film as uninspired as Kung Fu Mahjong 2, and she's in fine form here. Debbie Goh and Andy On also provide eye candy, though the dubbed On has the unfortunate task of playing a character that makes next to no sense. Fans of Dayo Wong should be happy to know that he's his usual snarky self, turning in a performance that is neither offensive nor noteworthy. That description could easily apply to the whole film, as Nothing is Impossible glides by so quickly that even its 100 minute running time doesn't seem that long. By the time it's all over, the prevailing thought may be, "Well, it could have been worse." Considering the fact that 2006 has given us Dating a Vampire and Love Undercover 3, I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. (Kozo 2006)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Joy Sales Film and Video Distributors
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

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