2011 Directed by Chung Shu-Kai and Eric Tsang Chi-Wai
I Love Hong Kong is another Shaw/TVB backed Lunar New Year comedy coming on the heals of 2010’s 72 Tenants of Prosperity. It is also deeply tied to Hong Kong nostalgia, and growing up in Hong Kong. Thus, a lot of the charm of the film does not translate well to overseas markets. And while parts of the film are funny and interesting, it feels like you are at your roommate’s family reunion. This isn’t to say that I Love Hong Kong is a bad film, but if you didn’t spend time living in Hong Kong, it is probably impossible to fully appreciate it. And I say that as someone who’s never lived in Hong Kong.
During the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong, it has become tradition for the studios to release comedy films. And that tradition dates back to 1937’s Bloom and Prosper, a film that doesn’t exist any more. Lunar New Year’s films generally have huge casts bursting to the brims with everyone famous they can cram in, wacky plots, romance, and lampooning cultural targets. And while the modern age may have lessened the impact of the box office, the tradition is alive and well. Besides starring a whole host of people, I Love Hong Kong has two directors, three script writers (Chung Shu-Kai, Heiward Mak Hei-Yan, Wong Yeung-Tat), and is based on an original story by 8 people (Eric Tsang, Chung Shu Kai, Heiward Mak, Wong Yeung Tat, Manho Mok, Chan Cheuk Wah, Ming Wong, and Louis Ng)! That’s almost as many people as who write the average terrible Hollywood blockbuster. Some of the cameos include Tenky Tin Kai-Man, Michelle Lo Mik-Suet, and even Maggie Cheung!
The theme song repeats the “I Love Hong Kong” phrase a lot, and by the end of the song you are reassured that everyone on the planet loves Hong Kong. So get with the program! There are several other songs in the films, usually during flashback sequences, and they are classic songs well enough known that my wife was singing along.
Ng Shun (Tony Leung Ka-Fai) – The former owner of a toy factory out of work when the factory is forced to close. Moves his whole family (illegally) into his father’s apartment, where he grew up, and reconnects with the residents he left behind. played by Bosco Wong in flashbacks.
Shun So (Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu) – Forced to take an old job at a beautician’s office, but is treated like crap by her former coworker and friend. In another hilarious scene, she acts as a stunt double for a tv series. Her youngest daughter is Ng King (Chan Wing Lam). Sandra Ng is also in Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, The Eight Hilarious Gods, and Beauty on Duty.
Ng Tung (Stanley Fung Sui-Fan) – Shun’s dad and grandfather to the three kids. Lives in the Hong Kong apartment complex all his life, and now has to deal with his grown son returning with his whole family. Is fully integrated in the complex and never wants to leave. Also his birthday is July 14th, and that’s the day I finished writing this review. Coincidence?? I think not!!!! Stanley Fung has been in over 100 films, so odds are you’ve seen him in something.
Ng Ming (Aarif Lee Chi-Ting) – The son of the Ng family. Is FEHD (Food and Environmental Hygiene Department), but his job is going after street vendors, which is bad because where he just moved into is filled with the people he’ll be busting! Aarif Lee is one of the new Hong Kong heartthrob guys you will probably hear a lot of soon. They even reference one of his earlier roles as Bruce Lee in this film.
Ng Chee (Mag Lam Yan-Tung) – The Ng’s older daughter, who works as a promotions model while going to college. Is shy and not wanting to bare her body like the famous E Cup Baby. Mag Lam won the reality show The Voice 2 and was quickly snatched up to a four year deal by EEG. This is her first film.
Tok Shui Lung (Eric Tsang Chi-Wai) – After some rough goings when he first comes back, Tok Shui Ling and Ng Shun return to being best of buds. Tok knows a lot about everything and is good at getting Shun to go along with his schemes to get into trouble. But there is more to Tok Shui Lung than we, and Ng Shun, know. Tok is played by Wong Cho-lam in flashbacks, where we watch as his girlfriend becomes Miss Hong Kong and dumps him. Eric Tsang is also on TarsTarkas.NET in Kung Fu Cyborg and Task Force.
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!
Emperor Zhu Zhengde/Lee Siu-Lung (Richie Ren Xian-Qi) – He’s the emperor, and he had an adventure. And he’s also a king. King Emperor. Not one of them evil Emperors like in Star Wars. At least not in the film, maybe in real life he was a jerk, I don’t know, I wasn’t in China back in the day when he was in charge. While with amnesia, takes the name Lee Siu-Lung (aka Bruce Lee)
Phoenix (Barbie Hsu Hsi-Yuan) – Phoenix’s character a delight, constantly beating everyone with a whip and yelling. This is the first Barbie Hsu character that I didn’t find annoying or boring. Even her over the top crazy lady turn in Reign of Assassins pushed my patience.
Lord Sima The Royal Historian (Law Kar-Ying) – The Royal Historian’s job is to chronicle the life of Emperor Zhu Zhengde, and spends most of the film making proclamations and writing them down in his Royal Log. This is both annoying to everyone in the movie and hilarious to everyone watching the movie. Law Kar-Ying is in both Metallic Attraction: Kungfu Cyborg and Future X-Cops.
Commander Chen The Royal Bodyguard (Bruce Leung Siu-Lung) – When you bodyguard is Bruce Leung, you’re in pretty good hands.
Mr. McFortune (Wu Ma) – Kentacky Fried Chicken’s answer to Colonel Sanders is Mr. McFortune. Have you ever been to Kentacky? They really need a new decorator… Wu Ma’s been in film forever, and was recently seen here in Haunted House Elf.
Haunted House Elf is what the title of this film translate to. There are little to no records of this hardly anywhere, especially records in English. Whoever did the subtitles decided that the vampires would be called “The Living Dead” He also decided that checking spelling was for pussies and that he was a real man. I’m here to tell you this guy is no real man and probably couldn’t spell “man” correctly if it was tattooed on his hand, much less any other word.
There was a period of time where tons of hopping vampire flicks popped up in the shadow of the Mr. Vampire films. Because hopping vampires are wacky, kids loved them, and it was inevitable that hopping vampire kid movies appeared. There was a ton of them at one point, you couldn’t shake a magic paper tract without it hitting the forehead of some hopping vampire kid. Then, like most fads, it quickly died and was replaced with Pokemon or something. Hmph…kids.
Wang Chi-Chiang aka Shiao-Chiang (???) – His mom is dead, his dad is a drunk, and Shiao-Chiang has anger at his mom for dying. But he’s too busy trying to please and comes off as a normal kid, which is good. Shiao because means little, as you should know had you seen that Karate Kid remake or speak Chinese.
Shiao-Ming (Lin Hsiao Lan) – The daughter of the family that owns the house. We never find out her full name. Not very good at being low-key that they are up to something, but mom is too busy. Lin Hsiao Lan is best known for starring in a bunch of Peach Boy films.
Lee Chung-Chiang aka Shaio-Tai (???) – Bratty son of the family that owns the haunted house. Is a big jerk, yells at people for no reason, and the rest of the kids ditch him to go on their comic book adventure. Jerks always finish last, buddy!
Tong-Tong (???) – A Hopping Vampire Kid who was trapped in a coffin for 300 years, then gets his new friends trapped in a comic book where they almost die like 50 times. A real friend. Now let’s stake him!
Tribal Chief (Wu Ma) – An evil tribal chief who is about to feast on some princess when these kids and a vampire show up in his comic book story and ruin the plot. Tribal Chief switches more costumes than an evening of Saturday Night Live trying to defeat the invaders, but eventually dies when the comic book burns up.