The Loser's Club

Reviewed by YTSL

Even after discounting those that owe their ridiculousness to hex errors (E.g., “Flirtong Scholar”…!), there are myriad examples of Hong Kong movies which have been saddled with titles that are more likely to put off rather than attract viewers.  Admittedly, such sensationalist ones as “Rape Trap”, “Gigolo and Whore”, “Love to Kill” and “Women’s Private Parts” -- all of which I’ve seen and reviewed for this site, actually! -- might intrigue certain folks even while scaring away more mainstream inclined others.  Alternatively, how many people would naturally gravitate towards checking out such presumably guaranteed downers as the criminally under-rated “Girls without Tomorrow” and this late 2001 offering from a director whose prior efforts had included two  (i.e.,“The Longest Nite” and “Expect the Unexpected”) of the darkest and bleakest of Milkyway Image’s crime dramas?!

THE LOSER’S CLUB possesses a principal cast who are not without overseas admirers but whose lack of Idol type physical attributes -- and consequent apparent under-appreciation in their home territory -- appear to have led to their being relegated to starring in low budget works like this Patrick Yau helmed TV program themed offering with an unbecoming “made for the small screen” aura to it.  To the more multi-talented than a chunky he may superficially seem Eric Tsang went the role of Nam: an international award winning director in search of a 20 (plus) point -- For the record: 1 point = 500,000 viewers -- rating for the midnight scheduled TV program he had been reduced to working on.  Meanwhile, the beady eyed plus at times very outrageous acting Francis Ng -- who excels at essaying menacingly crazed but also not so scarily eccentric characters -- was called to play an entertainingly flamboyant, “nutty but cute” singer named Kenny (who, prior to his entering into an inspired collaboration with Nam, was apt to be dismissed by others as an idiotic “has been”).
Although the latterly infamously “love handles”-possessing Ruby Wong’s part in THE LOSER’S CLUB is not as substantial as Eric Tsang’s or eye-catching as that of Francis Ng, it is one that provides her with welcomed opportunities to flash her absolutely wonderful smile as well as show the attractively feisty plus supportive side of her character (a woman named Hidy who is the official Girl Friday for Maggie Siu’s TV station manager character plus the informal but valued help-mate of Nam and Kenny).  Based on her supporting performance as the formidable -- but not entirely hard-hearted -- Cheung Mei Yiu, it seems a shame that the expressive faced Ms. Siu -- who had also graced director Yau’s “The Longest Nite” -- currently is best known to many Hong Kong movie fans for her being a TV actress plus having been dumped by Ekin Cheng for Gigi Leung.  Alternatively, Michael Tse did not do enough with his admittedly minor accorded role -- as a young but already pretty ego-centric station rival of Eric Tsang’s Nam -- in this flamenco music infused (courtesy of co-composers Chung Chi Wing and Ben Cheng) work to make a strong case for his being able to stand out of a non-pretty boy as well as “Young and Dangerous” crowd.
Someone else who doesn’t emerge all that well from THE LOSER’S CLUB is scriptwriter Sandy Shaw (whose previous penned credits include those for “The Heroic Trio”, “My Father is a Hero” and the Francis Ng directed and starring “9413”).  In theory, the actually Category I rated movie’s main tale of Nam’s efforts to orchestrate a successful comeback for the affectionately labeled Kenny Chai (a term that effectively translates into English as “Boy” or “Kid”) -- and also boost his own career in the bargain by doing such as getting both of them involved in the production of a HK$20 million (i.e., big by the stipulated standards) budget New Year’s Eve show -- is one that’s potentially interesting.  This is particularly so with the throwing into its primarily dramatic equation of the kind of ethical and humanistic issues, along with personal plus professional relational concerns, that various individuals who have demanding jobs and/or regularly appear in the media limelight can be realistically expected to have had to consider at some point in their psychically as well as psychologically and sometimes also physically demanding careers.
Disappointingly however, I found THE LOSER’S CLUB to often be both confusingly disjointed and yawn-inducingly boring.  To be sure, that which (also) had Helen Tong playing a supporting character named Sam and Chung Wong as a senior producer known as K. K. was not without a few good moments and points.  However, there often was quite a bit of lag time between the livelier, more inspired plus even sometimes surprisingly moving bits of a cinematic work that had Eric Tsang’s Nam character earnestly asserting at one point that “I just want to do a good show”.  All in all, and especially in light of another of the veteran industry insider’s suggestions being that “the entertainment industry…[is] all about gimmicks”, this (re)viewer couldn’t help thinking that this perhaps too well meaning effort would have benefited from having the irreverent -- but frequently attention-grabbing, for good reason -- input of more savvy plus populist inclined movie makers like Wong Jing.

My rating for the film: 5.5