The Mummy, Aged 19

Reviewed by YTSL

Recently, I read on Sanney Leung’s “Hong Kong Entertainment News in Review” site about a pair of budding Idols named “Kenny + Steven” being the so-called Male Twins.  In all honesty, I was quite surprised to learn of this -- not so much because I couldn’t see the possible profitability of such a development but as a result of my thinking that the male equivalents of Hong Kong’s reigning entertainment double act already existed in the form of the Shine boys.  After all, Tsui Tin Yau and Wong You Nam not only are a youthful singing-acting duo like Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi but also can be seen along with the Twins in “Summer Breeze of Love” (And as an added bonus, the dimple cheeked Wong You Nam -- though not his apt to be more serious looking “boy band” partner -- got to co-star afterwards too with these two females in the more impressive “Just One Look”).

Furthermore, from viewing such as this Wilson Yip helmed offering that the Hong Kong Film Critics Society put on their 2002 Films of Merit list, it would seem like these two young men are being given opportunities too to -- pardon the pun -- shine on screen.  On account of his having the titular role of THE MUMMY, AGED 19, Tsui Tin Yau it is who gets more to do in this movie (that sees his teenage character -- whose original, embarrassing name of Luke Bobo he tried to cast aside for that of Tin Yau -- fall under the dangerous spell of an evil spirit that had been dwelling in an Egyptian mummy’s body and threaten to turn into one of those dead plus desiccated and heavily wrapped creatures).  However, Wong You Nam’s part as that Bobo/Tin Yau’s good buddy plus love rival -- someone whose personal name is, in the tradition of Hong Kong movies, the same as the actor who plays him -- is actually quite substantial in size too (even if maybe not all that demanding, on account of his seemingly being called upon to not do much more than act like himself or, at least, his public persona).
Sharing a fairly large portion of the limelight with the Shine duo in THE MUMMY, AGED 19 is Tiffany Lee.  On one level, her Priscilla character -- who the two lads cast their eyes on in an internet cafe cum gaming hangout (that also is the setting for what appears to be a topical joke) -- looks to be the lass who may be the first or the latest in a long line of femmes who threaten to rip apart the friendship of Bobo/Tin Yau and Nam.  On another, by virtue of her being a student of anthropology and archaeology, this object of teenage male affection also seems to be in this initially fear-inducing Wilson Yip and Derek Kwok co-scripted picture as the principal relayer of often far-fetched “information” regarding Egyptian mummies, hieroglyphics and such like to the less academic inclined -- and consequently less knowledgeable -- boys and concerned others (who presumably include members of the increasingly wacky offering’s audience as well as other characters).
A third function that the Christian Priscilla serves is to bring Wyman Wong’s Father Cheung character to THE MUMMY, AGED 19’s main frame.  Especially in light of this unquestionably -- but maybe overly -- inventive Joe Ma production’s young adult characters somehow not being all that truly entertaining by themselves as well as three-dimensional, this priestly personality threatens to steal each scene that he is in, if not the entire show, with his extravagant -- plus maybe not always wholly advisable -- displays plus assertions of faith in God and the power of love.  Similarly, the other members of the almost scarily wholesome Luke nuclear family (who are played by veteran character actor Hui Sui Hung, a more low key acting than usual Yuen King Tan and Lee Chun Wai (a child actor who may be best known for supplying the voice of the young McDull in “My Life as McDull”)) turn out to be most helpful in adding some amusing color plus strong affection to the overall proceedings.
With its emphasis on family ties and extolling of John Donne-like sentiments re no person -- including a sullen teenager who thinks that doing fun things with his caring parents and “Baby” brother is way too “corny” for his taste -- being an island, THE MUMMY, AGED 19 can seem to resemble an old-fashioned (Western) “After School” TV special.  At the same time, even a cursory glance at its title plus consideration of its loop-throwing core concepts should be enough to make a solid case for this “everything can be moved by love” extolling multi-genre effort being, for better or worse, one of those “only in Hong Kong” productions that the Jade Theatre has been known to throw out at a sometimes un(der)-suspecting audience.  Often, this  locally particularistic type of movie is one that I like to see.  However, I feel obliged to conclude my review of this laudable sentiment espousing offering by admitting that it did turn out to be too ultimately mind-numbing as well as -blowingly weird a work for me to truly warm to.

My rating for the film: 6.

N.B. “Love HK”’s Kozo has issued the following warning re its DVD: “Once again, Mei Ah has checked quality control at the door. The English subtitles become mistimed for a good forty-five minutes, meaning that a title appears moments before the corresponding line is actually said. Those fluent in Cantonese will be fine, but those not will be screwed. The VCD is fine, though.”