The Magic Touch

In the 1970's Michael Hui was the premier comic filmmaker in HK and the popularity of his films were greatly responsible in reviving Cantonese as the language of choice for HK film (Mandarin had increasingly become the dominantly used language during the 60's). By the 80's his films were still popular, but to some degree they had become less important. By the 90's and with the advent of the mo-lei-tau style of comedy best exemplified by Stephen Chow, Hui's films seemed almost irrelevant and his production decreased dramatically. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise at how amusing this 1992 film is. It certainly breaks no new ground - but it is so amiable and personable that it was a complete pleasure to watch.

Hui's comedy (he directs this film as well) is so much less frantic and more laid back than most HK comedy that it almost takes getting used to. Much of his comedy lies in the moments when absolutely nothing is happening on the screen besides the camera filming Hui's reactions (or lack of them) to what is going on around him. This film has a few classical bits when this is the case where his thought processes are beautifully and humorously being reflected by his expressions but never overdone  - often just the smallest change such as a raised eyebrow or the patented Hui deadpan stare says so much.

Here, Hui plays a charlatan fortune-teller who tells people their futures by feeling their bones. What the suckers don't know is that he is in cahoots with the building's security guard (played by his brother Ricky Hui) who gets personnel information from people as they enter the building and faxes it up to Michael. One day Hui tells a female client that her husband is having an affair with an Anita (a magazine picture of Anita Mui happens to be on a table), but it turns out that the woman is the wife of the head of the HK Internal Revenue Service (Philip Chan) and so he sics the I.R.S. on Hui in the form of Leon Lai.
Philip Chan, Leon Lai, Ricky Hui, Michael Hui, Winnie Lau
Leon Lai is actually reasonably good in this film - as he plays the straight man to Hui and they make a relaxed and charming team. While trying to rescue a girl from being raped, Hui gets smashed over the head  (and in a very funny routine he cleverly covers his face in various ways so that they won't recognize him) and all of a sudden he really does have the power to see the future. Leon who is a fairly low-level employee sees this as his opportunity to rise through the ranks by using Hui's ability to catch a crook (Sunny Fang Kang) that they are after.
There are a number of very amusing pieces from an AIDS test in which Hui tortures Leon by slowly revealing the results, to some gay humor in a sauna to a hostess bar scene in which none of the bad guys can hear each other over the noise. Very few of Hui's attempts at humor fall flat and I found myself amused from beginning to end.
Lai, Hui, Sunny Fang Kang and Dayo Wong

My rating for this film: 7.0


DVD Information:

Distributed by Ocean Shores

The transfer  is quite bad - watchable certainly - but it is not letterboxed and the image is very bland.

Subtitles:  There are burnt on Chinese and English subs and they are often cropped or fall below the screen making them occasionally difficult to read.

There is no menu - but the audio option allows either Mandarin or Cantonese