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Written by Funn Lim



"In fact after finishing the movie I realised the selling point of this movie is the well written witty dialogue. It looked and sounded like real effort was put in, the movie is clearly a labour of love"







SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS


Released In
2009, 3 days before Chinese New Year to be exact

Language
Cantonese

Produced By
TVB I think because all the actors are TVB contracted actors or are familiar with them

Note
I can't remember the names of the characters in this movie so all the names below are taken from the Wikipedia page.

Cast-Character
Full list at Wikipedia.

Plot Summary
Taken from Wikipedia

This film used the 1973 Shaw Brothers film, The House of 72 Tenants as the blueprint. However, this story is a new creation, of which only some roles identical.

Yes, it is true. It starts with the 1973 version which we are all familiar with, with Joyce Cheng playing the same Teochew woman that her mother, Lydia Shum played in her youth. The story is similar, centering not on the eviction of 72 tenants or the corruption of the public workers (instead of firemen, in this version we have the 2 doctors from Healing Hands - Lawrence Ng and Raymond Cho if I am not mistaken demanding for bribes before administering vaccinations) but rather on Pinky, the lovely and innocent adopted daughter of the landlords (scary landlady played by Charmaine Sheh and lusty landlord played by Gordon Lam) who was forced to marry a much older but richer man but the tenants helped saved the day in the end. That was the original story. This movie continues on the basis Pinky was then pursued by sworn brothers, Ha Kung and Shek Kin, and she seems to like Shek Kin more but as both men decided to decide her fate by coin tossing and some cheating in the process, Pinky ended up marrying the shorter Ha Kung and gave birth to one son (Bosco) and one daughter (Linda) whilst Shek Kin married someone (at the start of modern times we know the wife died many years before) and has 2 children as well, one daughter (Stephy) and one son (Wong Cho Lam). What is interesting is Ha Kung the shorter one gave birth to a tall son whilst Shek Kin the taller one gave birth to a short son! Anyway they became sworn enemies and their quarrel even spilled into their handphone business, located directly opposite each other amongst the other 70 shop tenants of Sai Yeung Choi road. Thus the basis of the new 72 tenants, not tenants as in houses but tenants as in shops. The fact that Shek Kin is still madly in love with Pinky is also a sore point for Ha Kung.

However their quarrel was interrupted by several events; one where someone has been throwing acids onto the street and also a huge increase in the shop rental where few could afford it. They all rightly concluded that the unseen landlord hiked up the rental so as to force them out as the street is more lucrative now being empty than rented out as there was rumour of a rich Chinese businessman buying over popular shopping destination. They tried to find a way to solve the problem and also to find out who was throwing the acid onto the streets but in the process both Ha Kung and Shek Kin came face to face with their decades old rivalry as both their children fell for the other as the tenants find a way to preserve their beloved Sai Yeung Choi road.

Will the love of the new generation solve the rivalry of the older generation?

ENDING REVEALED
SPOILERS!! Highlight [ to ] to read the contents.

[ Quite simply, all's well that end's well (pun intended). If not what's the point of a CNY movie?


The acid thrower turns out to be the rich businessman's sexy assistant, who is the daughter of the despicable landlords in the 1970s part of the story. She wanted to avenge her father who was dragged to jail and died not much later. No news on what happened to her mother though. Ha Kung proved his love for his wife, Pinky by staying with her as he and Shek Kin tried to figure out a way to remove the strapped acid bomb on her body and they rekindled their love and patched things up. Shek Kin was able to move on and became sworn brothers with Ha Kung again and one day met with a young girl who looked like the young Pink (actually same actress that is Fala Chen). The respective children end up with the ones they fell for and the Sai Yeung Choi road was saved when the Chinese businessman was very impressed with Ha Junior, Ha Kung's son who came up with the idea of modernising Sai Yeng Choi road. Kin Chai became Ha Junior's partner in the modernisation. So the road was saved, everybody's happy and the entire movie ended with the entire cast dancing and singing, all wearing red and wishing us all a happy prosperous new year ]


Comments
Of all the CNY released movies in the cinema, this was the only one I wanted to watch, even if there was one locally produced CNY movie for a very simple reason; it has the ensemble of major and not so major, veteran and not so veteran and almost everybody from TVB that you're familiar with. In fact I did think of this movie as "Spot the TVB actor" sort of movie before I walked in, having been brainwashed by the promo shown daily on Astro Wah Lai Toi. And did spend some fun times spotting familiar faces whose name I knew and those I didn't but was glad to see them again. Of course some major names were not in here which makes me wonder could it be management's decision? Really missing are big names like Bowie Lam, Bobby Au Yeung, etc but almost all the big names of TVB are here, each starring in very small but significant roles. Like the movie tagline says, this is a movie without supporting actor because everybody has a share of the limelight. And when everybody's role is reduced to a mere 15 minutes appearance, some longer, some much lesser, suddenly I sort of appreciate their acting prowess, because 15 minutes is too short to annoy me and just enough to do what they must before we move on to the next scene.

For example, Ron Ng who spots huge glasses playing Ha Kung's shop assistant. I thought he was quite funny in a silly way as his character is quite silly. And overall he has about 15 minutes appearance and I found myself enjoying his performance. It just shows if you let the actor do what they do, let them ease up and enjoy the process, when they have fun, we the audience have fun. Then there's Charmaine Sheh with her beehive hair and her really mean landlady role. I thought she was effective too, rather bitchy and again that 15 minutes (lesser actually I think) given to her, she shone and delivered because not enough time for her to turn annoying or give a bad performance. She seems to enjoy herself in this character. Even Gordon Lam was annoying as the landlord but effectively funny. Then there's some others given more than 15 minutes but delivered the goods. Top of my memory is Wayne Lai, as the owner of a comic book shop. He delivered one of the funniest lines in this movie, the one about what he had to do to do business in this bad economic crisis, having to dress up like the comic characters and we are talking mangas here so imagine him as in Death Note, Full Metal Alchemist, etc. Very funny scene. Nancy Sit has a short memorable moment as Wayne Lai's assistant.

A special paragraph must be dedicated to Bernice Liu's performance of the tenant who sells beef ball noodle. Clearly a homage to Karen Mok's breakthrough role in Stephen Chow's classic, God Of Cookery except Bernice Liu can't act even if you give her clear instructions on what to do. First of, I commend her for bravely taking on such an ugly role, and dirty as well. If she didn't open her mouth to speak, I don't think lesser fans would be able to recognise her. I am not her fan by the way but I recognised her because every day I see her ad on TV. She is a beautiful girl with sunshine smile but in here, oh dear, really ugly and disgusting. But it was her performance that was annoying. Everytime she speaks, the other actors look at her, as if counting the minutes she will finish her lines before the next one is due to deliver theirs. She is not even funny when she is supposed to be. Her performance was the worse in here which reminds me if ever she stars in a comedy, and as a leading actress, I must avoid that series.

I must add also whilst some casting may be debatable, one was perfect casting and that was Kate Tsui as the crazy woman. She has the looks which I have been saying for a long time. Crazy eyes to full effect in here.

One guest starring I was very annoyed with was Myolie Wu, clearly as a pun to her real life relationship with Bosco. Another guest starring role which I find very very funny was the amazing and always entertaining and now really bald Dicky Cheung. His emotionless role as the bailiff was really one of the highlights, even if it was a 10 minute performance. It is not the time but the acting prowess that shows whether you can deliver or not. Michael Tse revived his most popular character, Laughing Gor but frankly I don't like Michael Tse as an actor anymore. He just annoys me. Then there was the just appear sort of role for Kevin Cheng and one other I can't remember who as firemen, clearly a reference to their popular roles as well as many others. Like I said everyone here is someone and someone from TVB, from the ke-le-fes to the supporting to the main ones.

But the full weight of the movie rested on several main characters that can be divided into the young ones and the veterans.

The young ones that is heavily featured is Wong Cho Lam as Shek Kin's son, Bosco Wong as Ha Kung's son and an actress I did not recognise, Stephy Tang as Shek Kin's daughter. Linda Chung as Ha Kung's daughter had more than 15 minutes of scene but lesser compared to the other 3. Amongst these 3, Bosco and Stephy had the most role, as the entire movie's younger generation story rested on their so called forbidden Romeo and Juliet sort of love story which was probably the movie's worst aspect. I wasn't convinced by their love nor do I care. But to give credit to Bosco, he was fun to watch and he displayed his MJ moves too even if that scene was kinda tasteless whilst Stephy was ok, can't say she was brilliant because she wasn't and can't say she was bad since she wasn't that bad. She was just the usual sort of performance but her character is scary. She likes AV movies (in Japan, AV movies is hard core porn films, though the essential parts are blurred, make no mistake, they are really doing the deed and AV movies are big stuff in Japan with the actresses earning a lot in a relatively short career - I can tell you for sure one Japanese singer that I like, Fukuyama Masaharu is a fan of of AV movies which shows very little stigma there but still shocking fact for me to digest) and is so fascinated by that sort of films she became an assistant director aiming to make her own gospel themed AV movie one day. Gospel theme AV movie! How can gospel and AV be in the same sentence?! Silly sort of ambition and her room is decorated with AV actresses' posters! Scary girl and in some ways the movie turned rather offensive at this juncture but almost and not quite offensive. Wong Cho Lam has a significant role too as the son that Shek Kin just love to scold. I find Shek Kin rather rude to this son who assists him in his business as well as other endeavours. His scenes with Linda Chung is more believable, where in one scene in an elevator, she punched him, he kissed her, rather passionately if I may add, something you will never see in TVB series. They do look like quite a pair! I must add Wong Cho Lam is very funny, delivering his lines with panache and he has excellent comic timing. In fact only he and Eric Tsang can be truly described as comedians, able to deliver the funny lines on time and effectively whilst the others were rather forced. The lines happen to be funny because the lines itself is funny.

But the main crux of the movie rested on 2 veterans; Eric Tsang and more importantly Jacky Cheung who has the most scenes and may I add, the best scenes in this movie. Their chemistry together is amazing and Jacky Cheung, apart from being a great singer is actually a very very good actor. He has comedic timing and I could hardly believe he was wearing a wig! Hair looked too real to be a wig! Both Eric and Jacky also delivered in the drama department. No denying these 2 carried this movie whilst the other appearances were of course very good bonus. I even thought Anita Yuen was kinda funny although she was better in the drama department. No denying she has acting chops but if you ask me if she was funny, no she wasn't.

Other actors stood out for various reason. For the older generation scenes I particularly enjoy Joyce Cheng having a go at her mother's role but again I stress she shouldn't have been cast in that short role. I thought she should have Linda's role because she doesn't need typecasting simply because she is her mother's daughter. I understand the decision to cast her in that role but I feel Joyce Cheng has bigger talents on her own to not just fill in the void left by her mother but she could carve her own career. Wouldn't it be nice to see her in Linda's role? Linda can have Stephy's role and Stephy can have someone else's role.

Then there was the lovely Fala Chen. I am beginning to really like her, after the dismal Moonlight Resonance where story sucked but characters and acting trimphed. She was lovely in here even if her love story was silly. Raymond Lam would become Jacky whilst the other was Justin Lo (speaking with Eric Tsang's nasal voice as well!) would become Eric. Both effective even if their story silly. I was glad Eric and Jacky quickly took over because Eric and Jacky were the main selling point when it comes to performances.

Whilst the main drawing point of this movie is the spot the actor sort of fun, I was very impressed with the fact that the dialogue was well written and very witty. Some play of words, the names of the businesses after checking out Wikipedia, such as Ting Tai Phone. That's a restaurant name! There's a Kee Wah Phone if I am not mistaken, again a bakery, very famous in Hong Kong! I also remember a scene where the camera zoomed into an eviction notice with the law firm's name printed on it. I can't really remember the name there, was it Si, Liu & Pei, Advocates & Solicitors? All are valid surnames but never quite put together in one line and when it was put together, the meaning became something else which also in short means "total and utter nonsense". I remember the name was fun play of words, very funny but frankly I am not sure if it was what I wrote in here.

There was also a rather interesting scene that if done badly would be offensive but in this movie, was really funny which was Shek Kin's new business tactic of selling handphones. Remember, he is selling phones but a customer walks in, taken to a room akin to those nightclub type, young pretty girls walk in and he can pick his salesperson who took off her top as she explains the functions of the phone. She sells the phone and gives a lifesize blow up doll with her image as free gift. And all along the disbelieving customer kept muttering "I am just buying a phone... just buying a phone". I thought that scene was hilarious, whilst tasteless but all in good fun.

And earlier one which was offensive, as Shek Kin's shop revealed 3 young scantily clad girls selling phones with heavy sexual connotations but balanced that well later with a very funny trio from Ha Kung's shop, one of whom played by Chu Mi Mi.

The ending scene was funny too, where Shek Kin and Ha Kung figured out how to dismantle the bomb on Pinky. Very very simple actually, and you have to watch it to believe it!

However there were 2 scenes I really loved that involved music. One was earlier, where the workers of both handphone shop sang to Sam Hui's classic about the workers' plight (ironically I believed it was written as a mockery to TVB back in those days!) and you see many familiar faces singing to that song whilst we see Ha Kung and Shek Kin scolding the workers as they sang and worked. The one that had me laughing the most was the hospital scene, where Wong Cho Lam and Jacky had a sing off over Jacky's classic song, the title I can't remember, was it "Loving You More Each Day"? (direct translation by the way). Anyway it started with Jacky as Shek Kin singing but then we found out it was mimed to a cd version of the song as Kin Chai that is Wong Cho Lam cooly switched off the CD player and said to his father "Dad, stop miming to Jacky Cheung's song. I can sing better, listen to the expert!" and then he sang a pitch perfect Jacky version of the song and Shek Kin then said admirably to his son "You're right! You sing better!" and if I remember correctly, Kin Chai ended the scene saying "Tell Jacky that!". Something like that. There is a dispute on whether Wong Cho Lam was mimicking Jacky or it was really Jacky singing. Wong Cho Lam isn't talking, he'd rather you speculate on whilst fans say it was Wong Cho Lam singing since he is a very good mimic and famous for it.

But let me present my theory; it was Jacky singing, Wong Cho Lam miming. Why I said that is because ...

1. When Wong Cho Lam was singing, Jacky was out of sight by the left of the screen, when he was done, Jacky walked back into the scene

2. The singing was live. I was very sure of it. So when Wong Cho Lam supposedly sang Jacky style, I find his mouth movements too over the top, it couldn't have been him singing, it looked more like miming

3. The singing was to the left of the screen. The sound source was not directly from Wong Cho Lam's direction, which was why I was sure the singing was live. My theory is the first scene, where Jacky sang it was miming to a Cd version. When it was Wong Cho Lam's turn, Jacky sang live at the side with Wong Cho Lam miming to Jacky. You can't have Jacky in a movie and not sing his own song, live.

Which is why I am sure it was Jacky singing, Wong Cho Lam miming. I am not saying Wong Cho Lam is not capable of singing well, but let's face it, Jacky is God Of Song. He can sing the phonebook and can still reign as the God of Song. I am sure of it and since Wong Cho Lam is not telling, we will never know so let's speculate on!

But whatever it may be, that scene was really funny and I love the exhange between Wong Cho Lam and Jacky.

In fact after finishing the movie I realised the selling point of this movie is the well written witty dialogue. It looked and sounded like real effort was put in, the movie is clearly a labour of love and the movie set, the recreation of Sai Yeung Choi road is not only impressive but looks real as well, although look at the floor and lightning and I am sure you will be able to see it is a movie set. But at least hundreds and hundreds of people in one scene is amazing enough for me. With well written dialogue, surely the actors would have fun delivering the lines and it shows.

I don't think I have ever been this wrong about a Chinese movie. I walked in thinking it would be the usual slapstick movie, hoping not to cringe and just enjoy "Hey! That's who and who!" but I walked out being really entertained, finding it one of those movies that balances well the dramatic moments and the comic moments with some very good performances coming from unexpected places whilst the usual ones prove us fans right. A good actor in any role is a good actor. A bad actor in a time controlled role will be an entertaining one! Of course the younger generation's love story was awful and predictable and boring but their stories didn't feature heavily in this movie. I am glad the focus was on the tenants AND on Jacky plus Eric because Eric and Jacky were the backbone of this movie. I had fun!

Verdict
You will love this movie if you are a TVB fan. Enjoy spotting your favourite actors and actresses. But more importantly, the witty dialogue and some very good performances will have you laughing hard whilst enjoying yourself. A must watch!




5 comments:

  1. I don't think the Bosco and Stephy love is that bad. Bosco is sweet and warm and nice to watch on big screen although would be better if TVB didn't overexpose him on TV got me tired. No comment on Stephy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know it's just a CNY movie and we shouldn't take it seriously. But there's one thing that bugs me. Pinky is the adopted daughter of the landlords. That means the little girl is her adopted sister. How come she didn't take care after the child after both the child's parents were take to prison? The grown up child mentioned that her father was taken to hard labor and died because he could not stand it. So, the jail term must be long.

    This doesn't reflect well on Pinky. They all seem to not know what happen to the landlady and landlord from the conversations the tenants have with the grown up girl. They also didn't seem to recognise her. So, the must not have seen her for a long time.

    Secondly, I really don't like what happen to the landlords. Their meanness didn't warrant the crime they were framed for. Possession of drugs is a big crime.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The other fireman is Kenneth Ma.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kidd, I don't think it was ever mentioned both parents were taken to jail, just the adopted father. Frankly why should Pinky feel obligated to take care of the daughter of the man who wanted to sell her off to a rich man? I wouldn't blame her if she didn't. Moreover maybe the mother did take care of the young girl and since the girl is so vengeful clearly shows she probably bullied Pinky too.

    The landlords original movie wasn't just mean. In the new movie they were depicted the same way. I don't think they were just mean, they were evil. They clearly didn't care about Pinky and from the way the man looked at Pinky, clearly given a few more months he would probably rape her. I think possession of drugs is of course not the right way to put them away but sometimes justice is achieved in rather peculiar way. They deserved their end. If they were better persons, no one would have framed them. What goes around comes around.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous20.3.10

    The song sang by Jacky is named 爱是永恒...

    ReplyDelete

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