Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I Love Hong Kong
I Love Hong Kong is Eric Tsang's lunar new year film for 2011 and follows the template created by last years 72 Tenants of prosperity. The movie features masses of Hong Kong stars from film and television (many of whom will be lost on western audiences), a sprinkling of social commentary, a rudimentary plot, lots of mugging to camera, unbelievable amounts of product placement and most importantly plenty of laughs.
Tony Leung Ka Fai's toy business has failed due to the economic downturn, he grew up on a public housing estate where his father played by Stanley Fung still lives, and has to move in with him bringing his wife Sandra Ng and his three kids into the cramped flat. The family members all try to make the best of a bad situation, and matters are further complicated by an ex girlfriend of Tony Leung's played by Anita Yuen who lives on the estate and the return of an old friend who apparently stole money from the community played by Eric Tsang.
Sandra Ng's character suffers most of the trials in I Love Hong Kong, not being used to her new lifestyle, she struggles with the etiquette of shopping in the local markets, and has to go back to work at a beauty company that has changed beyond all recognition from her time there before. In true lunar new year film style, she handles all this with good humour and shows a positive attitude goes a long way.
Using flashbacks to the younger days of the characters in a similar manner to 72 tenants, we learn the back stories of the characters to flesh out what we are seeing in the present, this technique works well again here, and sets up some amusing gags.
I Love Hong Kong is great fun, an excellent main cast do a really good job with what they are given, with Sandra Ng once again proving what a fantastic comedic actress she is, in particular the TVB scene with Wayne Lai is very funny. Tony Leung is very good too and he makes, as we have seen before in Jiang Hu The triad zone a great pairing with Ng. Eric Tsang plays himself again, and unbelievably his voice seems to have gone up another octave since last hearing him.
More laughs come from spoofs of other movies and genres, with The Mission getting a nod and an inspired J-Horror style sequence being very amusing. The positive vibe from the film is very welcome, and the message about the importance of community spirit is a good one where ever you are, although some of this is handled heavy handedly and seems a little rich given the rampant product placement and advertising, the film just about gets away with it.
The movie has done very well at the Hong Kong box office proving Tsang's formula has plenty of life left in it. My only problem is the story and structure of the film are just too scattershot for it to be regarded as anything but throw away, especially when compared with 72 Tenants. Its a minor issue though as I Love Hong Kong successfully covers all the bases for a new year movie and when its as funny and entertaining as it is, thats good enough for me.