Director: Fung Chih-chiang
Cast: Chapman To, Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung, Wong Cho Lam, Lo Hoi Pang, Yumiko Cheng, He Jiong, Louis Cheung, Vincy Chan, Hins Cheung, Gao Yunxiang, Deep Ng, Stephanie Che, Steven Cheung, Mani Fok, Six Wing
RunTime: 1 hr 39 mins
Rating: PG (Sexual References)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 5 September 2013
Synopsis: Successful debt collector Chiu(Chapman To) takes pity on a group of wannabe pop starlets when he goes to collect from the agency they are signed with. Naively thinking that he can do a better job in launching their careers, Chiu takes over the company in lieu of the debt but starts to realize that he may have bitten off more than he can chew. Hoping that things might change with a more strategic approach, he hires experienced talent manager Suen(Charlene Choi) but with money running low and the company on the brink of bankruptcy, a dejected Chiu is soon ready to admit that his Midas touch has run out...
If there’s one underdog in Hong Kongshowbiz you’d want to root for, it has to be 41 year old Chapman To. He isn’t a good looking heartthrob like Tony Leung or Andy Lau, nor does he possess a god sent physique like Aaron Kwok or Daniel Wu, Heck, he doesn’t even fight off baddies like action stars Jackie Chan or Donnie Yen. Yup, he is an Average Joe who reminds you of the friend who gets by in life, simply by being himself. The actor first caught our eye as Keung in the Infernal Affairs trilogy, and he has come a long way since then, especially with his stellar performances in recent movies like Vulgaria (2012) and SDU: Sex Duties Unit (2013).
We were especially looking forward to his latest movie, where he plays debt collector who takes pity on a group of wannabe pop starlets. Thinking that he can do a good job in launching their careers, he takes over the artiste management company.Elsewhere, there is the more experienced manager played by Charlene Choi, who enters the picture to help him after her embarrassing incident with an up and coming male star.
With a plot like that, you’d expect the movie to shed light on the not so pretty showbiz, but there is just something lacking in this 99 minute production that leaves you wanting more. After his directorial debut in The Bounty (2012), director Chung Chih Chiang works with To on this satirical comedy, but the film is unfortunately bogged down by an unfocused and sometimes bewildering script. There is a tad too many distractions in the story, and you can’t help but think having the seven wannabe starlets (they are relative unknowns in the industry, by the way) performing their “talents” is but an attempt to chalk up screen time.
Having the girls awkwardly perform tricks like belly dancing, playing ping pong and err, yelping like a dog is really quite a far shot from being funny. We get the idea that these girls are desperate to be noticed, but hey, surely there’s a classier way of putting this point across?
Then there is Choi’s story of managing the handsome action star played by Mainland Chinese actor Gao Yunxiang. The scenes portraying the dynamics between artiste and manager are overly slapstick and we can only feel for the member of girl band Twins for having to try so hard.
But not everything’s bad about this movie. To still proves that he is one of the best actors in Chinese cinema, so much so that you may feel for his initially unappealing character by the end of the film. You have to applaud his ability to bring across the emotions of someone who believes in his cause so much, he’d do the impossible to realise his own, as well as others’ dreams. Choi does a decent job as well, playing an artiste manager who has her own desires, despite trying her best to boost the celebrity’s popularity.
It’s also fun looking out for the cameo performances too. Expect to see the other Twin Gillian Chung, the always reliable Lo Hoi Pang, the surprisingly funny singer Hins Cheung, the outrageously hilarious (though unnecessary) Wong Cho Lam and a certain Nicholas Tse playing himself.
The film does lack the titular Midas touch, but it is still not too bad an effort, especially if you are a fan of Mr To’s acting chops.
(There may be quite a number of misses in this potentially hilarious flick, but Chapman To’s reliable screen presence makes up for it)
Review by John Li