U-Man



Reviewed by YTSL

What happened, Cheung Chi Sing?!  Although Brian -- whose opinion re movies I often value more than he realizes... ;) -- didn’t care too much for this director-scriptwriter’s “Love and Sex among the Ruins”, I found that 1996 offering to be an often under-rated diamond in the rough.  Additionally, after viewing his earlier -- by two years -- as well as, IMHO, pretty problematic “I Wanna Be Your Man”, my feeling was that this particular Mr. Cheung had developed and matured a lot in what really was not all that lengthy a period of time.  But this all was before I beheld this shoddy plus immature offering with which he is credited with having helmed plus written; one whose cast includes the hardly untalented likes of Anthony Wong, Sam Lee, Ruby Wong, Gillian Chung and Jade Leung, yet happens to be the worst 2002 Hong Kong film that I’ve viewed thus far -- and hope to do -- by at least a country mile.

To be fair, here’s pointing out my having successfully endeavored, to date, to stay clear of other candidates for this dishonor such as the notoriously bad -- as well as badly titled -- “The Wesley’s Mysterious File” and the by now internationally infamous box office chump that was the shot-on-video “Psychedelic Cop”.  This has been the case as well with regards to those low budget plus undoubtedly qualitatively questionable members of the “straight-to-video” club (whose nadir may well be the post-suicide biography entitled “Pauline’s Life”).  Then there’s my least favorite 2002 Hong Kong movie prior to checking out the slap-dash feeling -- hence, among other things, its nonsensical seeming English language title -- U-MAN having been that year’s top grossing Chinese New Year offering: The at least high production values laden “Marry a Rich Man”.
And if truth be told, there were moments in U-MAN that actually did evoke some genuine -- rather than just “I can’t believe this is soooo bad or happening” type -- laughter from this (re)viewer.  Indeed, I actually thought that Dante Lam production -- whose two main characters are a pair of undercover cops known as Jesus (who comes in the form here of a bleached blonde Anthony Wong) and “the God of Undercover” as well as Ken (who is portrayed by Sam Lee) -- started off fairly promisingly.  At the very least, some modicum of amusement did get derived from viewing those early scenes involving the carrying out of a police operation which asked people to (pretend to) believe that: one of the offering’s primary duo was posing so convincingly as a fortune teller that the two criminals (one of whom is essayed by a curly wigged Lam Suet) whose activities he had been assigned to clandestinely observe would decide to approach him for an astrological consultation; and that its other, even more heavily disguised, protagonist could get mistaken for Osama bin Laden by someone -- played by a cameo appearance making Piggy Chan (of “Chungking Express” fame -- whose phone call to the U.S. Embassy consequently got him chased through central Hong Kong by a heavily armed American anti-terrorist unit!
However, things started to go awry with the assigning of Jesus and Ken to retrieve the booty that had been in Lam Suet’s “Skinny” character and his accomplice’s possession, wrestled away from them by Jesus but then lost in an orchestrated mix-up involving someone who got identified as being affiliated in some way with an all girl’s school headed by an improbably acrobatic Catholic nun (known as Sister Mo and played by Jade Leung).  Apart from this particular scenario being none too original (what with its having been utilized in “Fight Back to School” I and II, etc.), matters were made lamer by the two detectives’ choice of cover roles.  As a character in U-MAN did remark later on in the movie, the far from conservative appearing plus acting Jesus hardly conformed to anyone’s image of a genuine Roman Catholic priest.  Yet that was what he -- who didn’t exactly help his cause by falling for one of the two prime suspects (a leggy, largely Mandarin speaking teacher nicknamed Miss “Cool” and portrayed by model Rachel Fu) -- sought to pass himself of as for the duration of the mission.
Worse still was Ken’s going undercover as a physically disabled girl by the name of May.  Granted that U-MAN’s viewers are generally spared the sight of Sam Lee in a skirt or dress (since the private school’s uniform consists of blouse and longish short trousers).  Alternatively, Cheung Chi Sing -- everyone of whose films that I’ve seen thus far, more than incidentally, has had at least one lesbian strand in their plots -- looks to have milked this “single male posing as a female in the single sex institution”’s romantic possibilities for all that it was worth.  Equally predictably, Ken too ended up falling for one of the females they identify as being the most likely to lead them to the not particularly lean -- or mean -- “Skinny” and his suspicious swag (Why Gillian Chung -- and/or her handlers -- opted to make her maiden movie appearance as the admittedly sweet Candy (AKA Piggy) Tong So Sum may well be one of the great mysteries of contemporary Hong Kong cinema).
While it seems very unlikely at the moment, I nevertheless wish to be on the record as hoping that the quieter Twin’s potential and abilities will not be wasted a la poor Ruby Wong.  While the female lead of “Where a Good Man Goes” and “Play with Strangers” managed to showed during her small amount of screen time in U-MAN that she still can command people’s attention, her police Madam’s general seriousness was so majorly at odds with the overall tenor of this feather weight offering that it looked to have been mistakenly imported from another (type of) movie.  In any case, this ever competent actress seemed to have latterly recognized this herself.  Hence it being so that at film’s end, her character looked to have given up on being responsible and opted instead to be as care-free -- plus care-less -- as that of the two boy-men under her command.

My rating for this film: 3.



Reviewed by Brian

All I can say about this film is that it was so painful to sit through that I gave up before Gillian even made an appearance. I felt like I was in slo-mo cinematic hell - I would prefer an encounter with quicksand or man eating centipedes to trying to watch this again - even getting captures for YTSL's review made me break out in red hives. Sam Lee will pay in his next life for this one.

My rating for this film: I take YTSL's 3 and lower it by 2 for taking up space on my site!