In Mandarin with English & Chinese subtitles
Director: Jeff Lau
Cast: Ronald Cheng, Athena Chu, Gigi Leung,
Betty Sun Li, Huang Bo, Sandra Ng, Ada Choi, Wang Xuebing, Eric
Tsang, Kenny Bee, Yuen Biao, Yuen Qiu, Yuen Wah, Gillian Chung,
Alex Fong, Wu Jing, Xu Jiao, Lam Suet
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 18 March 2010
Ronald Cheng effortlessly pulls out the magic sword belonging
to Fairy Athena Chu, and Fairy Sun Li who lives by love, is
drawn as moth to flame by this deja vu-like infatuation. As
Sun Li chases after the Ronald Cheng, who just wants to get
away from this "rotten peach blossom", the Pandora's
Box opens a doorway into another time zone.
Chan, Stephen Chow, Jet Li and Angelina Jolie are all starring
in this movie…NOT! The tongue-in-cheek opening credits
that begins by introducing the big-name stars whom you do
not see in the movie just about sets the tone for what to
expect- a light-hearted whimsical comedy that has but one
purpose, to make you LOL. And surprise, surprise, for the
most part, writer/director Jeff Lau’s new film does
"Just Another Pandora’s Box" follows in the
vein of Jeff Lau’s classic 90s hit comedies like "The
Eagle Shooting Heroes", "A Chinese Odyssey"
and its sequel with his unique brand of ‘mo lei tau
comedy- aka nonsense comedy. Like his earlier films, Lau’s
latest combines slapstick humour with romance to create a
ridiculous but ridiculously funny farce featuring a whole
bevy of stars.
The farce begins in the land of the "Journey to the West"
where a bandit (Ronald Cheng) pursued relentless by a fairy
(Sun Li) hopelessly in love with him stumbles upon the Pandora’s
Box, basically a time-travel device and in Jeff Lau’s
case, a movie-switching instrument. The Box transports Cheng
to the land of Red Cliff (yes, the John Woo movie) where he
now turns into General Zhao Zilong (played by Hu Jun in the
original who incidentally stars in this movie) and finds himself
right smack in the battle between Zhou Yu (Huang Bo)/Zhuge
Liang (Eric Tsang) and Cao Cao.
As with most spoofs, this one extracts familiar scenes and
situations in "Red Cliff" to tell its story- beginning
with Zhao Zilong’s brave fight to save Liu Bei’s
son, to Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang’s string duet, to Zhou
Yu and Zhuge Liang’s defeat of Cao Cao both on land
and at sea (and certainly, a cursory knowledge of the John
Woo movie is necessary to appreciate the insider jokes here).
To say any more about each of the scenes would spoil how surprisingly
inspired and downright hilarious Jeff Lau’s reinterpretation
is- but for the sake of illustration, let’s just take
how Jeff Lau’s Cao Cao comes up with the ingenious idea
of how to help his soldiers overcome seasickness. In order
to acclimatise his frequent horse-riding group of Northern
soldiers to the rocking of their boats at sea, he tells his
general (Patrick Tam) to task his soldiers to ride their horses
sideways and skip from side to side as they walk (instead
of the forwards/backwards horse-rocking the soldiers are used
Silly though it may be, there’s no doubt that like many
other similarly zany sequences in the movie, it is generous
fun and genuinely funny. That’s not to say that "Just
Another Pandora’s Box" is consistently 'he-he-ha-ha'
throughout- like most, if not all, spoofs, this one also has
its fair share of misses, such as the utterly dreary appearance
by one Kung Fu Panda (the one from the DreamWorks animation).
The movie also suffers from a thinner than thin plot, which
Jeff Lau’s frenetic pacing makes up for successfully
until the haphazard ending.
Yet for its shortcomings, this madcap spoof is still an enormously
entertaining delight- part of which also derives from the
all-star cameos that Jeff Lau has assembled for this movie,
including Yuen Qiu, Yuen Wah, Lam Tse Chung, Fan Siu Wong,
Ada Choi, Kenny Bee and Sandra Ng. Seeing these familiar faces
share the big screen is a welcome hark-back to those all-star
Hong Kong comedies that used to be a staple in the past. And
that is exactly what "Just Another Pandora’s Box"
is- classic 'mo lei tau' entertainment that demands only that
you have at least one funny bone in you.
(This "Red Cliff" spoof is chock full of
ridiculous jokes, but that’s also why it’s ridiculously
Review by Gabriel Chong