Director: Sandra Ng
Cast: Sandra Ng, Francis Ng, Alex Fong, Zhang Yi, Shen Teng, Yue Yunpeng, PAPI, Jiao Junyan, Pan Binlong, Alan, Juncong Xu, Cayden Li
Runtime: 1 hr 29 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Disturbing Scenes)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 29 December 2017
Synopsis: Between a dusty construction site and a luxury high-rise, a dilapidated multi-storey residence named Humble Grove sits awkwardly. Its tenants are Wang Baojian and his son, progenies of a family of Chinese herbalists, Jin San and his wife Li Juhua, Internet sensation A Ping, and retired gangsters A Ren and A Ming. For years, they have not dared to step outside the building, because if they do, they will be locked out of their homes by ruthless property developers… One night, inexplicable incidents of uncanny horror befall all the tenants, who subsequently decide to hire ghost-buster Golden Ling to perform an exorcism. She turns out to be an avaricious, strident-tongued aunty - Golden Ling looks every bit the charlatan, and the way she conducts the exorcism, wielding her apparatus, is nothing short of comical…
Based on the promotional poster alone, we know what you are thinking. This movie looks like a disposable comedy that you will think twice about watching, even when it is broadcast on TV. Is this a slapstick production chockfull of cheap special effects? Is this a project aimed at the Mainland Chinese market to earn some quick bucks? Is this an attempt for has been movie stars to regain visibility in the media?
Yes, we were doubtful about the movie initially, wondering why investors actually gave the green light to produce this movie. Fortunately, we were wrong – especially when the comedy is headlined by some of our favourite Hong Kongartistes.
Sandra Ng, who is known for her comic roles, makes her directorial debut with this feature film. She also takes on the leading role of an exorcist who helps the residents of a dilapidated building to get rid of supernatural beings. Without giving away too much of the plot, there are vampires (both Eastern and Western ones!), as well as hoards of zombies which are in the way of the good guys. The motley crew of tenants includes a duo of retired gangsters, a grieving doctor and his son, an oddball couple and a wannabe Internet influencer. That’s about enough material to milk some laughs for an 89 minute movie.
The story contains surprisingly engaging elements – there are swindlers you will despise, commercial frauds that feel close to real life incidents, heartwarming moments that celebrate justice and most importantly, a series of chuckle worthy sequences. This is a truly entertaining movie that does its job in a very agreeable one and a half hours.
There is no denying the fact that the production is made with the Mainland Chinese market in mind. The ensemble cast comprises largely Mainland Chinese actors (do names like Zhang Yi, Shen Teng, Yue Yunpeng, PAPI, Jiao Junyan, Pan Binlong, Alan, Juncong Xu, Cayden Li ring a bell to you?), but each of them brings something refreshing to the table. You may have seen some of them in films like I Am Not Madame Bovary (2016), Goodbye Mr Loser (2015) and Detective Chinatown (2015), and you must admit seeing unfamiliar faces does help viewers pay attention to the actors’ performances.
We have seen Ng’s comedic talents in countless movies (12 Golden Ducks and Golden Chickensss being the most recent ones she portrayed leading characters), and her latest work is a testimony of how effortless it is for the 52 year old actress to make people laugh. Amidst this, she also makes you feel for the character and this is the work of a veteran in showbiz. Two other familiar faces in the movie are Francis Ng (Line Walker) and Alex Fong (Overheard 3). The parody on the Young and Dangerous series is spot on.
The production values of the movie are high, with some impressive camerawork and editing. Ng’s partner Peter Chan takes on the producer role (some of the filmmaker’s impressive directorial works include American Dreams in China and Dearest), and does a fine job. This is a noteworthy movie that deserves more attention that its seemingly silly promotional poster.
(An entertaining comedy with some heartwarming moments that remind you that the world is a good place)
Review by John Li