Director: Ricky Ko
Cast: Patrick Tse, Petrina Fung, Lam Suet, Chung Suet-ying, Sam Lee
Runtime: 1 hr 39 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence and Sexual References)
Released By: Clover Films
Opening Day: 16 September 2021
Synopsis: The last generation of assassins moved to HK in 50/60’s and posed as a “killer-for-hire" trio to fix all sorts of problems for their clients. Decades passed, they have now become redundant at work and home. An accidental mission calls upon them and it turns out to be an assisted suicide. The trio suddenly finds new ‘life’… as the “Guardian Angels of the Elders”. Just when they are finding meaning to this new role, an order from a teenager turns their new practice upside down again… this might as well be their very last job.
Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. It allows you to overlook flaws (especially minor ones) and focus on the good stuff. This Hong Kongproduction has a rather absurd premise, but you can’t help but feel that there is something worth celebrating about the movie, especially in its three leads – put your hands together for Patrick Tse. Petrina Fung and Lam Suet.
Fans of Hong Kongcinema would be cheering with glee, seeing these veterans gather for a movie about getting second chances. They play former assassins (yup, that’s apparently a thing in Hong Kong) who have come to a standstill in life because age has caught up with them. A brilliant idea comes in the form of setting up an assisted suicide service for seniors. This has a lot of potential for a tear jerking drama with close ups of elderly characters, complete with their wrinkles and forlorn eyes.
However, the plot moves in an interesting direction when a client turns out to be teenage girl who lied about her age. She becomes involved in the three octogenarians’ lives, and all kinds of incidents begin to happen, from heartbreaking ones (this is a given), to silly ones (these help to lighten the mood, albeit a bit too much at times), as well as exciting ones (what the three main leads are doing aren’t legal, so you can expect some chase sequences with lawmakers).
Director Ricky Ko scored when he got Tse, Fung and Lam on board to headline this movie, but the same can’t be said about Chung Suet Ying, the actress portraying the girl who goes on to create a father daughter bond with Tse. We aren’t sure whether it is because of the Mandarin dub, but Chung’s high level of energy to bring out the enthusiasm in the character borders on annoying. There were emotional moments between Tse and her, but they weren’t enough for us to wish that she had less screen time.
Elsewhere, we see Fung trying to find her place in the family (her son, daughter in law and grandson are from a generation and obviously don’t see eye to eye with her). She is also a songstress in a bar where business is failing. Then there is Lam who seeks comfort by regularly visiting a prostitute, hoping that the transactional relationship will eventually turn into love, and they can get married. We know how that’s going to end.
There is quite a bit of material for the Ko to make a solid drama here, but there also too many things happening and the plot about Chung and her useless boyfriend seems to take centrestage. It is the least likeable story amongst the several themes explored.
Fortunately, most viewers will be invested in the fact that this movie stars three of Hong Kong’s most iconic actors, and will have their attention on screen for the entire 99 minutes. It helps that the ending is a heartwarming one, and you are convinced that this is a drama that has hit the adequate notes.
(Having Patrick Tse, Petrina Fung and Lam Suet in the same movie is enough a reason for fans of Hong Kong cinema to watch this drama about people getting a second chance in life)
Review by John Li