28 January 2005 | mj970128-1
the light and serious moments doesn't fit.
Feature film debut of later comedy star Michael Hui, who already was quite famous at TV and worked with director and author Li Han Hsiang on 3 more films after this. Story is about Pang Ta-fu [ Hui ], who becomes warlord of Shantung at the beginning of 1900 and his strange view of law and governance and also his addiction for pomposity and extravagance. Till he goes too far....
Expecting a comedy is quite wrong, there are some funny moments, but mostly with a dark tone right after them, is rather a pure dramatic history pic. The movie is episodic, some of the episodes are quite useless for the plot, dragging down the whole pic.
It starts with a 20min lasting court hearing of a possible rape case, even with back-flashes; after the verdict you'll get the next episode, and the former ones has no relation to the rest of the story. That goes on and on, and is mostly simply uninteresting [ a BIG party, his 4th wife does it with another guy,.... ] , so you'll never get the feeling of a clearly arranged direction, or that Li Han Hsiang really knows, what to tell and why. On the other side the movie is really beautiful, full-plugged pictures with excellent setting and decors; and the womens are quite nice and revealing. Michael Hui play his Pang very demonstrative and fancy, a little bit like Jack Lemmon in THE GREAT RACE, so that the death serious moments simply doesn't fit the otherwise loose representation. The movie could have been very well, you see the possibilities everywhere, but a good script is missing and the light and serious moments doesn't fit.