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Six Strong Guys
   |     review    |     awards     |     availability     |

The Six Strong Guys
"One more step and we won't finish our food!"
"Crap, he must have seen For Bad Boys Only!"
"Yes! One more movie, one more paycheck!"
"This is the greatest funeral ever!"

Availability:

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

Awards:

24th Hong Kong Film Awards
• Nomination - Best Supporting Actress (Candy Lo Hau-Yam)
• Nomination - Best New Director (Barbara Wong Chun-Chun)

 
  Chinese: 六壯士  
  Year: 2004  
Director: Barbara Wong Chun-Chun
Producer: Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui
Writer: Theresa Tang, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Barbara Wong Chun-Chun
  Cast: Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin, George Lam Chi-Cheung, Andy Hui Chi-On, Hacken Lee Hak-Ken, Chapman To Man-Chat, Karena Lam Ka-Yan, Candy Lo Hau-Yam, Huang Yi, Shaun Tam Chun-Yin, Kenneth Tsang Kong, Serena Po Sai-Yi, Josie Ho Chiu-Yi, Natalie Ng Man-Yan, Hyper BB, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Barbara Wong Chun-Chun
The Skinny: Sometimes amusing, sometimes telling, and sometimes embarrassing. This "guy issues" comedy from promising director Barbara Wong is too uneven and too scattershot to be truly successful, though it does have its share of minor positives. Not a bad movie, but not really a good one either.

Review
by Kozo:

Ekin Cheng leads an ensemble cast in Six Strong Guys, this year's award-winner for most misleading title. Not only are there really only four guys (one is only tangentially related to the central four, and another is questionably even relevant to the film), but these guys aren't really that "strong". In fact, the movie opens on a moment of weakness, as the four leading guys plan to jump off a building to punctuate their depressingly emasculated lives. Presumably the idea is that mass suicide will alert people to just how they've been marginalized by the modern urban maze of Hong Kong. Male camaraderie and mid-life crises look to be a bad combination for these four fellows. Another phrase for this: a self-pity party.

Long (Ekin Cheng) is a harried office worker whose life under his boss Rico (George Lam, making a welcome return to the screen) has been hellish to the point of ill feelings. However, instead of letting loose with a Chan Ho-Nam style beatdown, Long privately grouses, and turns to an alternate method of protest: suicide. His cohorts include Ben (Hacken Lee), a hairstylist who's too gutless to dump his ridiculously loyal girlfriend Wincy (Candy Lo). Malcom (Andy Hui) is a major playboy who's lost his groove with the ladies after a mysterious call from an ex-girlfriend alerts him to the possibility of an illegitimate child.

Lastly, Chai (Chapman To) is an out-of-work writer who's lost the breadwinning power in his family to wife Beeboo (Betty Huang). Rather than exhibit some guts, the four decide to become street pizza, but they're stopped when young slacker Shaun (Ti Lung's son Shaun Tam) jumps first. His reason: he lost some valuable loot in an online role playing game. The outcome: he's saved by the fire department, and instead becomes friends with the other four men. These five would-be suicides plus Rico form the "Six Strong Guys."

The immediate issue here: there aren't six guys. Rico sort of counts because his issues with his father-in-law (played by Kenneth Tsang) is indicative of a male mid-life crisis and an accompanying feeling of emasculation. Rico also considers a self-inflicted demise, but this is a movie, ergo he and the other characters must experience some form of cathartic life-changing metamorphosis that puts diving off a skyscraper into perspective. For Long, it's a male bonding partnership with boss Rico to establish some form of personal and/or financial success. Ben is determined to break up with Wincy, even though his friends think he's insane to dump such a perfect candidate for a wife.

Chai considers extramarital action with first love Ding (Karena Lam), which is the official cliché of any male mid-life crisis film. Malcom puts his life with the ladies aside while he begins to weigh the possibility of fatherhood. And finally, Shaun does nothing but hang around in the background. Yes, Shaun is the sixth "Strong Man" who should have been excised from the script and the film. This isn't a knock on Tam, who's barely in the film anyway, but the presence of this sixth man ultimately feels like unnecessary screenwriting.

Further unnecessary screenwriting: all the voice-over which pops up in the first hour of this 107 minute film. Because writers Theresa Tang, Lawrence Cheng, and Barbara Wong (who also directed) try to cram so much story into a standard feature-length film, they resort to oodles of spoken exposition to establish all their "guy issues". The result: a movie that's more verbal than visual, and one that's incredibly overstuffed to boot. After the initial attempted suicide, the film shuffles focus between all its characters, shafting some storylines grossly. The resolution of Andy Hui's storyline is logical but abrupt, and again, Shaun Tam's character is a waste of screen time.

Furthermore, some of the characters never seem to become all that interesting, making the maudlin ending an unaffecting event. What's even more annoying is that all the characters manage to meet at an event that questionably requires them to be present. Saying what that event is would probably give away too much, but it's not established that Karena Lam and George Lam's characters have any connection to more than one of the guys, so having them meet and greet the rest of the gang makes no sense. To have everyone show up for a "see all the stars" celebrity meet seems to be more a conceit of marketing than actual story logic. Grousing about this is probably nitpicking, but if the film can't affect or immerse enough to cover even minor plot holes, then it can't be all that great.

Not to say that it's all bad, because it really isn't. There are some interesting enough "guy issues" that crop up in the film, and some of the actors manage decent work. Ekin Cheng and George Lam make charming white collar losers, and Andy Hui covers a decent range in his portrayal of a lothario facing his own middle age.

Karena Lam turns in decent support, and Candy Lo brings layers of seeming depth to a rather simplistic character. She also handles her character's teary scenes with an appreciable amount of dignity, especially considering the histrionic excess of co-star Chapman To. Hong Kong's reigning do-it-all overexposed performer overacts a bit, resulting in some scenes that appear embarrassing rather than touching. With some actors hamming it up, and others barely registering, Six Strong Guys can only suffer. There was some thought and feeling put into this film, but when everything is so scattershot, it's hard to really find one part of the film affecting.

It's the lack of cohesion in Six Strong Guys that renders it mediocre. With only standard storylines, middling conflicts, and a lack of noticeable life, this movie ultimately qualifies as a well-meaning, but unnecessary exercise in thoughtful filmmaking. Director Barbara Wong also directed the more successful Truth or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat, and brings some of the same sensitivity to Six Strong Guys. But the film doesn't possess the requisite spark to make it anything more than perfunctory, and it's doubtful that anyone would ever claim this to be a memorable movie. It isn't an offensive or terrible movie either, which is only a recommendation if you're really starved for current Hong Kong Cinema. You should totally choose this movie over stuff like Dating Death or Sex and the Beauties or maybe even Papa Loves You. But that's simply a relative thumbs-up. In the grand scheme of things, Six Strong Guys is pretty weak. (Kozo 2004)


 
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