Conman in Tokyo
Generally speaking, I do my best to stay away
from any film with Nick Cheung in it. His “wannabe Stephen Chow” act is
annoying as hell and a pale, uninspired imitation of the original. He always
looks as if he is trying too hard to be funny – and though comedy is difficult
it should look easy. Still, I had seen some positive comments on this film
and it had the benefit of some lovely jawbreakers in the forms of Athena
Chu and the recently returned Christy Chung. So with expectations lower
than a lonely guy’s mood on a Saturday night, I sat back to watch this
and much to my surprise I found myself quite enjoying this silly Wong Jing
Like any Wong Jing film, it has the depth of a
politician in front of the TV news cameras – but it has a terrific bright
look to it – it seems to have a real budget associated with it (hell, they
rent an aircraft carrier for the final scene!) – it is effortlessly light
and sleek and it is directed by legend Ching Siu Tung. Clearly, this is
not Swordsman II or Duel to the Death or even Wonder Seven! – but Ching
keeps the film moving swiftly, the tone light and provides some enjoyable
action scenes. Considering that he has to do this primarily with Nick and
Louis Koo – two actors not particularly known for their martial arts skills
– the action scenes look fairly good.
The film tries to balance two disparate genres
– the manic comedy of Cheung and the subdued and dramatic acting of Louis
Koo. Their performances could almost be in two entirely different films
they strike such different moods, but somehow it really doesn’t seem to
matter – though I would have preferred less of Cheung and more of Koo.
Both Christy and Athena are scrumptious side dishes in this film – Christy
is quite appealing in a self-mocking shopaholic role in which her linguistic
skills are made fun of – and Athena is just lovely.
After defeating Leung Kar Yan (in a funny Afro
attired cameo) in a pool match, Cheung’s character Jersy declares himself
to be the top gambler in HK. Wise old man Wong Ting brings Nick down to
earth by telling him that he is a mere shadow of Cool – a legendary gambler
who vanished from Hong Kong three years previously just before his big
match with a Japanese gambler, Yasuaki Kurata, was to take place. Nick
and Christy fly off to Tokyo to go on a shopping spree – and after an exhausting
day of buying things for Christy they find a small Chinese restaurant to
eat in. Some Yakuzas come in looking for extortion money – and are soon
sent scurrying away by the shop owner with a spinning flying coffee saucer
that cuts right into the arm of the leader of the group.
Nick immediately realizes this must be Cool –
famous for his ability to use playing cards as deadly flying weapons. Cool
comes in the form of Louis Koo – who retired from the lush life after his
girlfriend, Athena, in a misunderstanding left him and married his vicious
partner, Ben Lam. They still loved each other though, but Athena was crippled
in an attempt on Koo’s life. Now Koo can only love her paralyzed body from
afar. Nick re-awakens Cool and persuades him to reclaim his life and his
love – leading to the inevitable gambling match and some good action.
A fair amount of CGI effects are utilized – some
of it quite good – the flying cards vs. the flying deadly dart fight between
Cool and a Japanese femme fatale is great fun – but some of it is also
ridiculously phony looking – such as Cool and Nick dodging missiles shot
at them on the ship. Overall though it is good fun – easy on the eyes –
and not to be taken seriously for a moment.
My rating for this film: 7.0
Distributed by Deltamac
The transfer is terrific - great colors, very
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
The subtitles are Chinese and English - though
oddly even with the letterbox format they wander off the page on the sides
from time to time.
There is a confusing menu that I never figured
out. First it is in Chinese - with options for chapters (8) and for a trailer.
There is another option but for the life of me I could not understand what
it did. To access the language and sub-titles I had to use my remote control