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Undercover Hidden Dragon

(left) Ronald Cheng and Lam Chi-Chung, and (right) Pace Wu and Cheng.
Chinese: 至尊無賴  
Year: 2006
Director: Gordon Chan Car-Seung, Dante Lam Chiu-Yin
Writer: Abe Kwong Man-Wai, Lau Ho-Leung, Gordon Chan Car-Seung
Cast: Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Theresa Fu Wing, Pace Wu (Ng Pui-Chi), Lam Chi-Chung, Miki Yeung Oi-Gan, Ella Koon Yun-Na, Philip Ng Won-Lung, Timmy Hung Tin-Ming
  The Skinny: Zzzzzzzzzzz. Ronald Cheng works hard, but the comedy superstar can't save this film from being mostly a snoozefest. Undercover Hidden Dragon is staged in a shockingly boring manner, though the film recovers for a decent ending. But the true tragedy: the directors of this film made Beast Cops.
by Kozo:

Your insomnia cure may have arrived with Undercover Hidden Dragon. The latest from fledgling comedy superstar Ronald Cheng, Undercover Hidden Dragon has a marginally clever concept in that it features Cheng in dual roles as both the hero and the villain of the film. Sadly, his effort gets undercut by uninteresting storytelling and mind-numbing direction. To make matters worse, the directors of this film were also responsible for the sublime Beast Cops. With that sort of pedigree, disappointment is all but guaranteed.

Cheng is Fat, a loser delivery guy who gets drafted into a possible triad gang war. After getting smacked by a drifting AE86 Toyota Trueno (the first of many semi-funny but completely throwaway jokes), Fat is approached by dopey gangster Timmy Hung, who gives him a knife and tells him to assassinate some evil triads. After some minor buildup, Fat charges in with murder on his mind, only to chicken out and run like the wuss he really is. But his attempted homicide gets him in touch with Sharon (model Pace Wu), the wife of mysterious gangster Wind and Fat's former puppy love. Once upon a time, Sharon ran a waffle stand and Fat used to drop by daily to get his carbohydrates and ogle at her leggy form. Taking a cue from his previous hobby, Fat spends hours outside her apartment longing for her once more.

However, Fat has other responsibilities besides stalking his first love. He also runs the counter at a cyber cafe along with portly pal Lam Chi-Chung (of Shaolin Soccer/Kung Fu Hustle fame). There the two sit around and verbally joust in a largely uninteresting manner, though they do make time for a nonsensical karaoke-inspired musical number where they sport huge afro wigs. Plot arrives in the form of Chong Ching (Theresa Fu of Cookies), an incredibly young police madam who leads two equally young and attractive subordinates (Cookies bandmate Miki Yeung, and Ella Koon). Their reason for existence - other than to act cute and sassy - is looking for a missing undercover cop, PC147258, and Ching thinks that it's an amnesia-suffering Fat. Though he doesn't remember his days as a cop, Fat is willing to play the role, especially since cooperating allows him to hang with comely young lasses like Theresa Fu, Ella Koon, and Miki Yeung. Luckily, Fat manages to get close to mysterious gangster Wind (also Ronald Cheng), who turns out to look just like Fat - except he possess a ridiculously fey voice. With Fat's help, can the girls bust Wind? Will Fat choose Sharon or Ching? And, can the film actually sell the idea that the above-described plot matters?

Unfortunately, Undercover Hidden Dragon doesn't convince, and sometimes even becomes interminable. The general plot is all right, and manages some interest thanks to Cheng's amusing dual performance, plus the surprisingly effective action sequences. The comedy is sometimes okay too, especially an inspired gag where Ronald Cheng and Lam Chi-Chung engage in an extended "Masked Rider" parody. The problem is that the film's interesting parts are connected via many uninteresting parts, comprising useless filler, gags that are drawn out interminably, and long sequences of limp character interaction. The result is a commercial comedy that's told in a shockingly boring manner. Co-directors Gordon Chan and Dante Lam don't seem to know how to use Ronald Cheng, whose comic charms are largely tied into his ego-free willingness to engage in outlandish embarrassment. Cheng does what he can with whatever he's given here, but Chan and Lam don't give him enough. Despite the general silliness going on, Undercover Hidden Dragon is simply not outlandish or extreme enough to be that funny. It elicits giggles and the occasional guffaw, but all-out laughter doesn't seem to be in the offing.

The good news is the film recovers for an amusing and even clever finale. Some surprisingly entertaining kung-fu, the dual Ronald Chengs, and a few well-staged jokes save the film from being all-out terrible. The problem is the ending only comprises a good 10% of the film, and the stuff leading up to that borders on a complete snoozefest. The positive side to this is the film is rarely annoying, which is a step up from many so-called comedies from Hong Kong Cinema years past. But if boredom is the tradeoff, then erring on the side of annoying would probably be preferable. Gordon Chan and Dante Lam appear to be making a comedy, but they don't direct the film like a comedy. Their pacing is leaden, and the humor too inconsistent to be that funny. Too often they seem to rely on the material to carry the film, and since the material simply isn't that good, the film struggles to stay amusing. Had a less refined filmmaker directed this film, it might have been incredibly annoying or even offensive, but at least if wouldn't have been boring. Someday we may regret saying this, but what Undercover Hidden Dragon really needed was that Wong Jing touch. (Kozo 2006)



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

images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen