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  Publicity Stills of "Run Papa Run"
(Courtesy from GV)

Genre: Drama
Director: Sylvia Chang
Cast: Louis Koo, Rene Liu, Nora Miao, Max Mok, Kent Cheng, Convoy Chan
RunTime: 1 hr 55 mins
Released By: GV & Scorpio East
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 10 April 2008


Raised by a single mother in a crime-ridden neighborhood, LEE has risen from street punk to successful syndicate crime boss.

Fast money and women have always come easily to Lee. But Lee unexpectedly falls in love with a lawyer named MABEL. When Mabel becomes pregnant, Lee panics. Unable to commit, Lee refuses to marry her. Determined to make the relationship work, Mabel moves into his apartment uninvited.

Mabel’s stubbornness pays off when their baby HEIYI is born – Lee’s paternal instincts are awakened and he is transformed into a doting father. Desperate to protect his new family, Lee conceals the true nature of his business. His gang members undergo an image makeover and to all outward appearances Lee is now a legitimate businessman.

His secret is exposed when Heiyi reaches adolescence. Heiyi urges her father to go straight. But Lee has just been handpicked to be the next kingpin of the underworld and Lee must make a choice between the brotherhood and his family.

Movie Review:

It may have been nine years ago, but this reviewer clearly remembers how touched he was by director Sylvia Chang’s Tempting Heart starring the sweet Gigi Leung, the perfect Takeshi Kaneshiro and the charismatic Karen Mok. The bittersweet love story stayed with him all these years, and he continues to wish that he is the protagonist of a romantic tale like that (but that’s a separate issue altogether). Then he saw Chang’s 20.30.40 (2004) starring herself and the always wonderful Rene Liu and Angelica Lee, and he became enlightened on how women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have different viewpoints about life.

So when the talented filmmaker makes a film about fatherhood, this reviewer felt that it would also be something he’d enjoy.

After Jingle Ma’s Happy Birthday (2007), the very watch-able Liu teams up with the very buff and tanned Louis Koo to play a married couple who has a daughter. Sounds like a happy family? The problem is, Koo is a triad leader with a violently shady past and he needs to shake off that history to “become a good father” (which is the direct Mandarin translation of the movie title – not to be confused with the recent “Run Fatboy Run” showing in theatres now).

The story is nothing to shout about, if you think about all the other family dramas out there about a family trying to get a grip of things. But Chang is a master storyteller here. Although you’d be predicting every minute of the plot correctly as the movie proceeds, the 115-minute picture is still very engaging to sit through.

The moment the movie begins, you get an interesting graphic montage of Koo’s character running away from trouble (hence the English title, get it?). Then we go into a flashback sequence where Koo and Liu fall in love at first sight, and you become impressed with the campy yet effective approach here. Next, we see how five different actresses (infant to young girl to teenager) play the couple’s daughter. And in a fitting finale, we get an expected twist which makes for a reflective moment on life.

The fine performances of Koo and Liu work well here too. Koo ages nicely throughout the movie and you see him mature from a coarse teenager to a thoughtful father figure. Liu portrays a quirky younger self in the movie’s first half before nicely settling into what she does best – the emotive woman everyone wants to empathize with. The two exudes some nice chemistry with each other and makes a great on-screen couple. Supporting characters are played by other familiar Hong Kong faces like Lim Suet (Mad Detective), Max Mok (Once Upon a Time in China), Ti Lung (Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon) and Kent Cheng (Flash Point), which adds a unique old school charm to the movie.

The impatient viewer may find the movie tiresome the time it reaches its halfway mark, but for those who can afford the patience, you’d be won over by the enigmatic performances of the leads, and hopefully along the way, you’d get some lessons on fatherhood. This is what this reviewer has taken home with him, because he continues to live with the vision that he will father a happy family in years to come.

Movie Rating:

(A well-told story about fatherhood with a well-meaning takeaway)

Review by John Li


. Happy Birthday (2007)

. Protege (2007)

. Rob-B-Hood (2006)

. A World Without Thieves (2004)



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