Sunday, March 08, 2015

12 Golden Ducks

Tonight's first lesson in moviegoing: Take the bird in the hand where public transportation is concerned. If I had just stayed on the subway instead of trying to take a shortcut with the 47 bus, only to have it not show, I probably could have taken the D straight to the theater rather than get off the B at Kenmore and just barely get into the movie.

The second: Going in blind is great, going in so blind that you don't know the basic gag of the thing - that Sandra Ng is underneath one heck of a makeup job to play a frequently-shirtless male character - probably doesn't help much either. I must sheepishly admit that I only knew this was the case after going home, searching for cast lists, finding none that were English-friendly, and then finally looking up other reviews to match names to characters and then reading that Sandra Ng played Future Cheung. This after seeing previews before the last few Chinese movies to play the area, too - now I want to know if I was missing obvious cues in the trailers as well.

I do find it kind of amazing that I've barely seen anything with Ms. Ng in any sort of prominent role before - looking over her IMDB entry, it's pretty much just Echoes of the Rainbow (and I'd forgotten about that) back until and then a big gap back to Inspectors Wear Skirts, where she was much younger and playing a bit part (one of several cadets being trained by Cynthia Rothrock). It's a reminder that I need to try and hit the New York Asian Film Festival again after not being able to squeeze it in before Fantasia the last few years; she was a guest with a mini-retrospective at last year's festival. I miss good stuff by not going there, even for a weekend.

12 Golden Ducks

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 6 March 2015 in Regal Fenway #9 (first-run, DCP)

I see a fair number of movies from Hong Kong - just about every one that plays local theaters or the festivals I attend - but I've still somehow managed to miss almost the entire career of Sandra Ng Kwan-yue. This means that I spent a lot of the movie wondering just who the heck she, the only person named in the opening titles, was playing in a movie about male escorts. When it turned out to be the main character, I had to admit I was impressed. I don't know how much funnier that makes the movie, but it certainly makes it more odd.

Ng plays Future Cheung, a "duck" (Cantonese slang for gigolo) who learned how to live off women from a very young age, but after being conned himself, he's let himself go to become an afterthought at a bar in Thailand. His old teacher Mr. Lo (Anthony Wong Chau-sang) finds him and brings him back to Hong Kong, where a couple of old friends - gym trainer Rocky (Louis Koo Tin-lok) and hairdresser Kenji (Eason Chan Yik-shun) - help him get presentable again. Future still has to work his way back up, and a former gigolo now selling supplements to his older clients by the name of King (Simon Yam) gets him a new spot, where he soon befriends former stockbroker Chan (Wilfred Lau), hard-hat type Dick Wide (Philip Keung Hiu-man), and eccentric "alien" Nebula (Babyjohn Choi); they also befriend King's oldest client (Lisa Lu Yan).

I don't know if I actually counted twelve ducks with parts of any import in this movie, even if you expanded the definition somewhat liberally, but that sort of precision doesn't actually matter, because this movie is less a story than a set of gags. There's a vague sort of plot about Future trying to work his way back up to the top, but it's a wispy thing, just barely there enough to suggest an order for the various jokes. Li makes the point that men provide services for women more than the opposite these days, even if you ignore prostitution - maids and waitresses looking for husbands have given way to personal trainers and hairdressers trying to get by - but I suspect that any other satire is fairly Hong Kong-specific.

Full review on EFC

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