Posts Tagged ‘Wong Jing’



HONG KONG 2010  Directed by: Keung Kwok-Man, Wong Jing  Written by: Wong Jing  Produced by: Wong Jing Cinematography: Keung Kwok-Man Editing: Lee Kar-Wing Music: Henry Lai  Cast: c, Kiu Wai Miu, Fala Chen, Andy On, Yang Liu, Tak-Bun Wong, Vincent Wong, Ying Qu, Hiromi Wada, Ada Wong, Yu Xing, Winnie Leung

A Wong Jing movie is with almost 100% certainty always a Wong Jing movie. No matter what you do, it is going to look and feel like a Wong Jing movie. I have respect for him for creating his own trademark movie style and recipe (less respect though for his copy-and-paste philosophy). That doesn’t mean that I like his movies. I seldom do, frankly speaking.

BLACK RANSOM is one of Wong Jing’s better efforts and clearly his best movie in 2010 so far (having said that he’ll probably produce another dozen movies or so until year-end). BLACK RANSOM is still a very typical movie however, and this time I realized that a Wong Jing movie doesn’t actually need a director. Consequently the cinematographer takes over the direction (with Wong Jing once again being the co-director). Trust me, you’ll not notice the difference.

I found the English title a bit puzzling, and even now I am not sure how ransom could be black or what black ransom really is. It probably just sounded meaty and dark; Wong Jing is a great marketer, and I actually believe that he usually comes up with a title first and then constructs the movie around it (see BEAUTY ON DUTY or FUTURE X-COPS). That would also explain why his movies usually lack structure, dramaturgy and character development: the only purpose is to translate the cool title onto the screen.

BLACK RANSOM deals with ex-cops kidnapping triad members for money so that they can give some of the ransom to charity and use the rest to finance further activities against the mob. They want real justice, as they believe that the legislative apparatus rules in favor of the bad guys. Simon Yam plays a detective who plays by the rules and is chasing them after they took another gangster hostage. Soon a tense duel between Yam and the leader of the bad guys begins.

If you want to see a great duel between two worthy antagonists better watch FIRE OF CONSCIENCE. BLACK RANSOM is trying very hard to imitate every action flick from Michael Mann to Dante Lam, but it ends up a poor copy of the originals. It’s like patchwork, borrowing here and there, gluing pieces together that don’t really fit together – as so often Wong Jing doesn’t create an original work of art, but an amalgamation of what others have invented before.

BLACK RANSOM is not really bad though, but I can’t say it’s a solid action movie either. It’s still substandard by comparison, lacking beef, consistency, good actors and a script that makes sense. Too many things are irrelevant here, are confusing or plain nonsense. Cut the crap out and you’re left with little more than 40 minutes of a so-so film.

BLACK RANSOM is a movie you have definitely seen many times before, just better. So I wouldn’t know a real reason you should watch it. If you have a choice, choose something else. Anything.




HONG KONG 2010  Directed & Written by: Wong Jing  Produced by: Lee Kwok-Hing, Zhuo Wu  Cinematography: Suny Shum  Cast: Charlene Choi, Benz Hui, Sandra Ng, Siu-Wong Fan, Tat-Ming Cheung, Lam Suet, Sammy Leung

I was honestly hoping that FUTURE X-COPS would be the most horrible movie Wong Jing is producing this year, but BEAUTY ON DUTY is really putting my nerves to the test.

I have been exposed to the typical Hong Kong humor and to Wong Jing’s version of that humor for decades. Sometimes it works or me, mostly it doesn’t. Humor is very subjective as well as a cultural facet, so in general it is very hard to tell funny from not funny.

Therefore I will not claim being objective when it comes to BEAUTY ON DUTY. On the other hand it’s a film released for the big screen and hence it is subject to criticism like any other movie out there.

Apart from the subjective quality of humor it must be noted that Wong Jing still cashes in on the same old recipe he is using since over 20 years now. He is still fooling the audience and they still don’t get it. The “story” (which is a rip-off and doesn‘t deserve a second of my time to recap here) provides a very basic framework for a non-stop firework of slapstick: no joke is too dumb, no topic too cliché-ridden and no overacting too much to provoke a reaction from the audience.

Everything has to be simple-stupid and as loud as possible. The smallest common denominator is what really matters. Nothing has changed for Wong Jing the almighty recycling machine since the 80’s: why invent it yourself when you can just steal it and make it worse? You got no ideas, no taste and no style? Go work with Wong Jing, there’s always plenty to do.

As mentioned elsewhere he could put is talent to better use, but unfortunately usually chooses not to. Even a veteran crew and cast cannot save a movie like BEAUTY ON DUTY, and seeing Sandra Ng, Tat-Ming Cheung or Andy Lau being degraded to clowns hurts – for a moment, then we realize they are generously compensated for their decision to act in junk like this. Shame on all of them.

BEAUTY ON DUTY is a disgrace to filmmaking. It has no artistic qualities whatsoever. If you are interested in watching a movie, look elsewhere. Your dog wouldn’t want to watch this one. BEAUTY ON DUTY doesn’t even come close to what is generally considered a movie.

BEAUTY ON DUTY is an un-movie. It’s must-miss cinema. And I am sure Roger Ebert would want to cut both his thumbs off seeing it (hope you read this review Roger, really).




HONG KONG / TAIWAN 2010  Directed & Written by: Wong Jing  Cinematography by: Kwok-Man Keung  Editing: Kar-Wing Lee   Music: Ying-Wah Wong Cast: Andy Lau, Barbie Hsu, Bingbing Fan, Jiao Xu, Mike He, Siu-Wong Fan, Yifei Tang, Jingwu Ma

Some things never seem to change: Wong Jing continues doing what he does best (worst) with FUTURE X-COPS, an erratic, childish SciFi flick for …(whom exactly?)

Some time in the future an assassination takes place: Dr. Masterson (no kidding), the future’s god-like leader, do-gooder and environmentalist (how in-trend is that) is attacked by a bunch of mutants. The attempt on his life fails however, thanks to Andy Lau and his sweetheart who unfortunately dies during the battle (and shortly after so does his daughter for whatever reason).

The mutants then come up with this really great idea of traveling back in time to find the young Dr. Masterson sixty years ago and kill him before he can become the great man everyone knows he is going to be in the future. Andy Lau decides to follow the mutants to save Masterson and the world (or maybe it’s just because he’s lost his family, or because he’s got really nothing better to do?).

It is bewildering – or shall we say amusing – to see how Wong Jing still shoots the same old stuff he did for the past thirty years or so. It’s almost like he re-shoots the same script (which isn’t much of a script), just touching up details here and there and exchanging places, characters and names, but otherwise sticking to the same framework.

His recipe obviously still works as his films continue raking in big bucks (and being in there just for the money his sole benchmark of success is the money): having the big names of entertainment starring, keeping the story simple, the movie scenic to not overwhelm the audience, steal as many ideas from other movies as possible to instantly increase his own movies likeability, and then stir it all really well until it’s true film stew. This time the ingredients range from TRON and ROBOCOP to BACK TO THE FUTURE and  STAR WARS – RETURN OF THE JEDI (not only the Speeder Bikes), the flavors range from bland to blander.

Andy Lau reportedly agreed to do the movie only after the 19th (!) revision of the script. He should have known that a script that needs 19 revisions can’t be fixed and the movie will most certainly turn out an incomprehensible mess. Little surprise that Lau has only two facial expressions throughout the movie: the “what-am-I-doing-in-this-movie” face and the “oh-right-I-am-here-for-the-paycheck” face.

If the most talked about scenes of a movie are the kissing scenes between the main actors then you can guess the artistic qualities of the rest of the film. With an ageing Andy Lau still playing the superhero-playboy FUTURE X-COPS is not much of an action movie, with stupid kids saying even more stupid one-liners it’s not much of a comedy, with C-grade special effects it’s not much of a science fiction flick either, and with one of the most idiotic stories ever put on paper FUTURE X-COPS is a real post Chinese New Year disaster. The best I can say is that it’s nonsense.

It’s hilarious to read that some have slammed FUTURE X-COPS for not living up to AVATAR after it was banned to make room for Chinese movies to rule the local box office. Which in fact means that many out there have really thought and hoped that Wong Jing can make FUTURE X-COPS the Chinese AVATAR. I don’t know what to say. Believing that FUTURE X-COPS could match AVATAR in terms of SciFi qualities is very naïve, pathetic and is evidence of zero knowledge about moviemaking and moviemakers.

China is still not a great and mighty filmmaking nation, despite the many great movies coming out the country since decades. But that doesn’t mean that Chinese movies per se are setting industry standards. What we are witnessing lately is a lot of ambition mixed with a lot of overconfidence. Peter Chan’s BODYGUARDS & ASSASSINS has failed to live up to its bold claim, and so does FUTURE X-COPS, with the difference being Wong Jing categorizing his movie more as a romantic film than a SciFi flick.

I won’t let him get away with it though. I know he can do better than this. Watch THE LAST BLOOD, HIGH RISK, RETURN TO A BETTER TOMORROW or LOVE GENERATION HONG KONG for instance. Not great movies, but proof that the Wong Jing way of making movies can work within a certain context and when putting a little effort into it.

FUTURE X-COPS on the other hand shows what happens if no one cares about the film and the sole goal is quick money. FUTURE X-COPS is not a movie, it’s an investment, and I’m not really going to the cinema to watch investments. Neither should you.