Director: Gary Mak
Cast: Chapman To, Shawn Yue, Matt Chow, Derek Tsang, Jim Chim, Siu Yam Yam, Simon Lui, Lam Suet, Dada Chan, Liu Anqi, June Lam
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Rating: R21 (Crude Sexual Humour)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 25 July 2013
Synopsis: The Special Duties Unit (SDU) is an elite paramilitary tactical unit of the Hong Kong Police Force and is considered one of the world’s finest in its role. But being the best carries its own burdens. Like everyone else, they go through troubles with love, with family and with their jobs. And sometimes they get horny. This touching story is about Special Duties Unit Team B and their trip to Macau for a weekend of unadulterated debauchery.
Hong Kong’s answer to ‘The Hangover’ comes in the form of Pang Ho-Cheung’s raucous comedy ‘SDU: Sex Duties Unit’, which essentially chronicles the sexual exploits of a team of four SDU members in Macau over the course of two nights. For the uninitiated, the acronym SDU refers to the territory’s elite paramilitary tactical unit - think the equivalent of the United States’ SWAT or Singapore’s own STAR - which has been epitomised on film by Gordon Chan’s ‘The Final Option’ and its sequel ‘First Option’ back in the 1990s.
But despite having the director of the unofficial third movie in that series - ‘The New Option’s’ Gary Mak - on board as helmer, this couldn’t be farther from the spirit or the intention of the earlier three films. There are no heroics to be found here; instead, the team we see is the unequivocal B-team, otherwise acknowledged as the ‘black sheep’ of the Unit - and there’s no better person to make that point than Michael Wong himself, the iconic hero from ‘The Final Option’, ‘First Option’ and ‘The New Option’, who makes a cameo at the beginning as the commander chiding their team leader Keung (Chapman To) for being ineffective and ineffectual.
With tongue firmly in cheek, Pang’s regular collaborator Luk Yee Sum establishes the other members - the US-educated sniper Josh (Shawn Yue) who uses three syllables to say ‘nipple’ in English versus one to do likewise in Mandarin; the randy point man Ka Ho (Matt Chow) who first suggests that the quartet make their way to Macau for some pleasure time; and the timid Dried Shrimp (Derek Tsang) whose nickname was acquired from the time his teammates found him curled up on the ground after confronting a notorious criminal Tao. None of them are hero-material, and none of them will be after the night is over.
Choosing physical over visceral thrills, they decide to give watching England’s World Cup quarter-final match with Portugal (referenced several times throughout the movie) a miss and instead devise a plan to sneak into Macau by speedboat so as to avoid reporting their departure to their senior officers. Popular 90s actor Simon Loui shows up as their illegal boatman Lung, who drops them off on a deserted beach and reminds them to be back before dawn for their ride back home.
Naturally, their planned five hours of debauchery at a glitzy nightclub known as ‘Club Number One’ doesn’t go as expected, no thanks to the unexpected arrival of Macau’s judiciary police (led by ‘3D Sex and Zen’s’ Tony Ho) conducting a routine inspection of the premises. With the consequences of being disciplined for illegal entry fresh on their minds, they decide to go on the run from the authorities; and if the first half of the movie is about their surreptitious journey into Macau, then the latter half sees them trying to find a way out of the place in similar clandestine fashion.
Within that narrative structure, Lee engineers a variety of laugh-out-loud gags that range from the low-brow to the deftly witty. At the crasser end of the spectrum, she and director Mak ensure that their libido-driven male audience will not be disappointed. Oh yes, there are breasts and nipples on display at the nightclub - not to mention plenty of crude male talk about flat-chested women, fat women (otherwise referred to as ‘pork chops’), breast implants, oral sex, initiations, and other tricks of the sexual trade in their mission code-named ‘Sex War’.
But amidst the easy potshots, there are spurts (pardon the pun) of brilliance that enable Mak’s film to rise above mere raunch. A running gag about Dried Shrimp’s perpetual hard-on after having half a bottle of erectile stimulant mistakenly massaged onto his penis morphs into several choice rib-tickling moments about his gay-ness following the team’s discovery of his sexual inclination during the course of the evening, capped beautifully by an unexpected turn of events that allow him to assert his manhood in more ways than one. And in typical Pang fashion, there are numerous references to Hong Kong cinema that fans will lap up - Keung gets offered an exotic package for zoophilia as a clear nod to Pang’s own memorable scene in his previous ‘Vulgaria’; or Keung’s own summary of what ‘calling girls’ entails modelled after Tony Leung’s iconic speech in ‘The Grandmasters’.
There is not a dull moment to be had throughout the movie; though Lee does interrupt the volley of laughter with all-too obvious attempts at trying to get her audience (particularly we think, the female members) to sympathise with her four male characters - Ka Ho tries to break into his estranged father’s house only to have the latter collapse in exasperation; Keung has a run-in with his divorced wife (‘Vulgaria’s’ Dada Chan) now pregnant with child; and Josh admits to a secret that he’s been ashamed of for some time. These melodramatic sojourns are good only for you to catch your breath before the next uproarious gag, so regard them as breathers and no more.
Not that the cast look like they need any - To, Yue, Chow and Tsang keep the energy high and alive with their infectious buddy chemistry through the hijinks. With neither bod or looks, To gleefully hams it up as the anti-hero, and displays an admirable ability at keeping a straight face while delivering the typical ‘rah-rah’ rallying speeches expected of a team leader but with a twist. Yue is stoic and a nice foil to To; while Chow is suitably sleazy for the part. The scene-stealer we suspect for many female audiences is Tsang (or Eric Tsang’s kid), perfectly cast as the hapless victim who spends most of the movie walking around bent over - no thanks to his erection - and finally comes into his own at the end.
Clearly lapping up the chance to have fun and let loose too are other celebrities like comedian Jim Chim (also a Pang regular), Lam Suet and Susan Shaw; and indeed you are invited to do likewise and join in their sexual misadventures. It’s crude, crass, vulgar, politically incorrect and perhaps even offensive to some; but those are the very reasons we suspect many will find it amusing, hilarious and even rambunctious fun. Like we said at the beginning, it’s Hong Kong’s answer to ‘The Hangover’, and if that appeals to you, then you're in for a wild treat.
(With tongue firmly in cheek - and we don't mean a sexual pun here - this crude, crass, vulgar and politically incorrect chronicle of the sexual misadventures of four SDU men is also amusing, hilarious and rambunctious fun)
Review by Gabriel Chong