Director: Chiu Li Kuang, Huang Chao-Liang
Cast: Amber Kuo, Chu Ko Liang, Tony Yang, Kang Kang, Miao Ke Li, Su Chu, Lin Mei Hsu, Lotus Wang
RunTime: 1 hr 38 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Coarse Language And Sexual References)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 9 May 2013
Synopsis: In 1990s, a Taiwan local photographer Zhu Dade(De Go Liang) accidentally becomes a Mafia boss. And to catch up with trend of internationalization, later changes his name into "David Loman", in Taiwanese means great gangster. Xiao Ho(Tony Yang) who is a nerd has a Feng shui Master father Old Ho (De Go Liang), who looks like the same as Boss David the Mafia boss, exchange their identity coincidentally, but unfortunately murdered as a substitute for Boss David. In order to fight for the justice in this sin world, Xiao Ho, Boss David and his daughter Jin (Amber Kuo) team up “DL Special Force”.
So this reviewer was hoping to be cheered up by this Taiwanese comedy, especially after a not so great day at work. Things can’t go that wrong when this 98 minute film happens to hit box office gold during the Lunar New Year period in Taiwan earlier this year, can it? And a quick glance at the cast list tells this reviewer that the tried and tested combination of Chu Ko Liang and Kang Kang (those who are familiar with Taiwanese variety shows can vouch for this) is guaranteed to milk some laughs.
Gosh, how terribly wrong he is.
The movie starts off with a nostalgic black and white sequence, and one may be led into thinking that the story would be a comedy infusing a heartwarming homage to Taiwan’s history. Things become a little suspicious when you hear how the protagonist (Chu Ko Liang) is named “David Loman” (a word play of “big time gangster”), and how the rest of the movie will be his fumbling adventure with a young punk (Tony Yang) whose father he accidentally kills. In the mix is David Loman’s own rebellious daughter (Amber Kuo) who, surprise surprise, has an issue with Daddy not being there during the times she needs him most. The antagonist played by Kang Kang is, well, out to make things difficult for everybody.
We’ve got a story going, no? Known in Taiwan’s entertainment industry as a leading producer, first time director Chiu Li Kuang manages to bring together an ensemble cast which will go down well with local viewers. Chu Ko Liang and Kang Kang do their usual stuff – exaggerating every single expression. The younger Tony Yang and Amber Kuo do their jobs of looking handsome and pretty respectively, while delivering forgettable performances. Audiences who have given up on Singapore TV and have started regarding Taiwan TV as a staple will have fun spotting supporting characters played by Su Chu, Jeff Huang, Ma Nien Hsien, Yin Wei Ming (better known as “Clipper Xiao Ying”), Miao Ke Li, Lin Mei Hsu and Lotus Wang.
The abovementioned names don’t ring a bell? Maybe you’d walk out of the cinema as befuddled as this reviewer. The jokes are unfunny, and the one hour and forty minute runtime seems to drag on forever. Logic also doesn’t seem to be priority to the filmmakers, considering how one incident can conveniently lead to another. Wait, if the kid’s father is dead – why does he join forces with the culprit (fully knowing he killed his Dad) instead of grieving? Also, let us warn you of a training montage sequence which went on for what seemed like 15 minutes too long.
Oh, did we mention the version screened here is heavily dubbed in Mandarin? The bulk of the jokes in this movie are wordplays of the Taiwanese local dialect, and hearing them spouted in Mandarin mars the viewing experience. When the movie’s end credits roll with NG takes, you wish the 90 odd minutes you’ve sat through were as funny as the actors making mistakes during production.
(A painfully unfunny Taiwanese movie that gets lost in dubbing)
Review by John Li