Adventure of the King
Directed by Chung Shue Kai
Adventure of the King is way the hell better than Flirting Scholar 2. Why am I bringing that up? Because Flirting Scholar 2 was made along with Adventure of the King as part of the same group (Chinastar’s 5510 production plan – 5 years, 500 million yuan budget, 10 films), and is a sort of spinoff from Flirting Scholar 2 (which is a prequel to the Stephen Chow film Flirting Scholar) Adventure of the King is also an adaptation of the play The Matching of Dragon and Phoenix, which has been made into film several times, most recently as Chinese Odyssey 2002. So just imagine that Micheal Bay directed Romeo and Juliet and had Sam Witwicky wandering around going “No no no no no no no!” just because he wants to set classic plays in his universe.
Flirting Scholar 2 was absolutely awful. The worst films are bad comedies, because their entire reason for existing is to make us laugh. Failing at that becomes a big ball of sadness that can rarely be fixed by just going to town and mocking the film. Flirting Scholar 2 had no reason to exist except to make money off of dumb people who thought Stephen Chow would show up. He didn’t. It is basically a Hong Kong version of those Jim Carrey-less Jim Carrey movie sequels like Ace Ventura Jr., Dumb and Dumberer, and Son of the Mask. With that wonderful film as the opening movement of the 5510 plan, one would think that things would only go downhill from that low valley. How wrong I was!
I actually regret not watching Adventure of the King right when I got it and instead putting it off for several weeks. Having been burned by Flirting Scholar 2 I wasn’t holding much hope, and since I also did not care for director Chung Shue Kai’s 72 Tenants of Prosperity (All’s Well Ends Well 2010 was the better of the Lunar New Year Comedies of 2010, and it had Angelababy, a name I can write in all seriousness despite it being ridiculous, therefore making it an awesome name!) I was also apprehensive.
Adventure of the King blew away my expectations and then kept on blowing like it was the Big Bad Wolf. We join crown Emperor Zhu Zhengde, who is unable to leave the palace and instead there is a whole troupe of performers who act out various adventures for him in the “city”. Emperor Zhu looks bored through most of these proceedings, despite the best efforts of his advisers – Lord Sima, Commander Chen, and Doctor Wang.
The Emperor gets sick of the repeated adventures, and schemes to escape from the palace, forcing his advisers to come along with him (also accompanying him is his loudmouth sister, who is quickly dumped at the first opportunity.)
Soon Zhu and his Zhu Crew lose all their money on a gambling scheme (pulled off by the Flirting Scholar 2 crew, including the character from that film played by Richie Jen) and Zhu then loses his memory in a battle for chicken and his advisers lose track of him. Homeless, broke, amnesiatic, and destitute, Zhu’s one chance for salvation is free noodles given out by Phoenix from the Dragon Phoenix Inn (aka the Lung Fung Inn), who Zhu then aides as her brother becomes harassed for owing a large sum of money that threatens to mean the Inn will be seized to repay the debts. Taking the name Lee Siu-Lung – Bruce Lee’s name – Zhu then helps by coming up with new exotic dishes for the restaurant that he vaguely remembers from his time in the palace.
Dragon Phoenix Inn has a crew already of different people with different problems. One of the waitresses has an eating compulsion. The chef is a showman who does ridiculous cooking tricks (Kung Fu Hustle‘s Chu Chi-Ling). One of the female waitresses is the biggest flirt in the universe who speaks with a “seductive” voice to everyone with a Y chromosome (this was hilarious, btw.)
The film goes into wacky overdrive when Zhu’s scheming uncle tries to make a play for the throne and sets up shop right next door to the Dragon Phoenix Inn to keep an eye on him. The shop is Kentacky Fried Chicken, complete with Wa Mu running around as Colonel Sanders! Best movie ever. It gets even better as the Dragon Phoenix crew dresses up as various animals and fights Colonel Sanders’s menu girls, who are dressed as seafood creatures. I had total Zodiac Fighters flashbacks. But now there are two movies where people dressed as animals fight other people dressed as animals. There is also a hilarious kidnapping sequence as Zhu’s advisers attempt to locate him by grabbing a guy who knows everything.
After the parade of wacky, the film gets serious as crosses are doubled, tripled, quadrupled, and thing become not what they seem. I’m not going to spoil things, largely because explaining things would take like six more paragraphs. Laziness is creeping upon me like spiders in the basement. So instead just watch it yourself, and see if you can describe everything in less than six paragraphs. If you do, I’ll give you some e-cred. Important stuff. Remember to mention how the Hawaii 5-0 theme was used.
The ending all works out in a neat little package, which is good, and also there isn’t a breakout into a random choreographed number at the end, which is also good, as those are now overused. If I want to see people dancing and singing in the streets, I’ll watch High School Musical. Speaking of which, there is a Chinese High School Musical….but I ain’t gonna watch it! Take that, Chinese Zacquisha!
Rated 8/10 (Injured fingernail, “I decree…Flirting Scholar 2 sucked!”, crawdad, don’t be flirting and scholaring in this film!, another cameo guy, KISS fans from 500 years ago, watermelon chicken, supercook)
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