Director: Derek Kwok, Henri Wong
Cast: Ekin Cheng, Josie Ho, Ronald Cheng, Edmond Leung, Wilfred Lau, Tse Kwan-ho, Susan Siu, Andrew Lam, Eric Kwok, Matt Chow, Vincent Kok, Michael Tse, Wang Lin, Bao Chunlai
Runtime: 1 hr 48 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Coarse Language)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures and Clover Films
Opening Day: 14 May 2015
Synopsis: Once an elite badminton player renowned for her killer instinct on the court, the fiery Ng Kau-sau (Josie Ho) has been living aimlessly since she injured an opponent and was expelled from the sport a decade ago. Since then, Sau has been holed up in her family’s poon choi restaurant, handling its daily chores while having completely given up on maintaining her own fitness. The dust is temporarily settled ? or so it seems until the day Sau comes across Wong Fei-fung, the hottest badminton player at the moment. But just as she is contemplating suicide after being publicly humiliated and beaten up, Sau meets a quartet of eccentric characters who appear to come straight out of a martial arts novel: they are the Drunken Master (Andrew Lam), the one-armed Lam Chiu (Edmond Leung), the amblyopic Ma Kwan (Wilfred Lau), and their scar-faced and hearing impaired leader Lau Dan (Ekin Cheng). Though the four of them used to be notorious robbers a dozen years ago, they have all led a new life since their release from prison, forming the ‘Lau Dan Badminton Club’ in the process. As they reacquaint Sau to the glory of the badminton game, she revives her fighting spirit to enter an amateur badminton tournament organized by a television station. Initially put off by the history of Dan and his pals, Sau is soon touched by their sincerity and perseverance; she doesn’t only team up with them, but has also fallen for Dan. On the eve of the tournament, Dan and co are mistaken for suspects of a new case of robbery and become the city’s most wanted once again. As they face the prospects of disqualification, can Sau and Dan salvage the chance to showcase the fruit of their intense training ? a secret move they call “Full Strike”?
Full Strike is a weird infusion of a sports theme and martial arts movie. In spite of two very familiar genres, the end product is definitely not something that is accepted by the mass audiences.
Derek Kwok and Henri Wong co-wrote and co-direct this madcap comedy about a bunch of misfits trying to restart their lives by focusing on something which they never excel at - Badminton. Ex-cons Lau Dan (Ekin Cheng), Lam Chiu (Edmond Leung) and Ma Kwun (Wilfred Lau) were once dangerous criminals but now they are just plain ordinary folks running a badminton club at a run-down premise. Their luck changes for the better when the once Queen of Hong Kong badminton, Ng Sau Kau (Josie Ho) decides to join them.
It might sound simplistic on paper but Kwok’s absurd brand of nonsensical humour is far richer on the screen. Almost all of the characters introduced seem to be a walking Looney tune character of sort. For example, Ng who stumbled into a long period of depression after being disqualified for her John McEnroe’s outburst manage to regain her motivation after witnessing a shuttlecock like meteor hitting the ground. It’s equally preposterous and bizarre though you can’t deny it’s a hoot.
Lam Chiu on the other hand is a one-hand sportsman; Ma Kwan is apparently as blind as a bat while Lau Dan’s temper is horrifying when he lost it. Wait there’s more to come. The trio’s master, once champion of the sport, Chik (musician Andrew Lam) is a drunk and their competitor comes in the form of Suck Nipple Cheung (yup that’s what the English translation says), a local bully and Ng’s cousin played by Ronald Cheng.
There’s never a dull moment even if you find the plotting impossible to follow. Kwok’s mo-lei-tau humour resembles Stephen Chow in his later acting/directing career which explained why he was chosen to co-direct Chow’s Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons. The dialogue is often witty and the physical humour is plain wicked especially a projectile vomiting sequence courtesy of Chik.
Even though Kwok has already pay homage to the martial-arts genre with his acclaimed Gallants, he has no qualms instilling them once again in Full Strike. Montage of the characters training in badminton is almost similar to watching kung fu apprentices in their daily training session. You will be surprised to watch how Lam Chiu and Ma Kwan team up in the end to play doubles which is heavily borrowed from kung fu moves.
Despite the wackiness of the script, the climax of the movie is hinder by a subplot in which Lau, Lam and Ma is involved in a triad fight. It’s basically an unnecessary convoluted turn of event in which the intensity of the match is diluted. In addition to the disappointment, Suck Nipple Cheung’s badassness is also forgotten in an instant.
Full Strike comes equipped with a slew of familiar HK actors and actresses including veteran actress Siu Yam Yam as Grandma Mui, stage actor Tse Kwan-Hoas Ng’s brother, a cameo by what-happen-to-her-Grace-Yip and decent production values. The comic timing of the cast is spot-on and the badminton matches are staged with surprising power and tension. In conclusion, you can’t deny Full Strike pales in comparison to Chow’s Shaolin Soccer but still a way better effort than Jay Chou’s awful Kung Fu Dunk.
(Full Strike brought back memories of the good old days of HK comedy)
Review by Linus Tee