17 July 2000 | Jack_Yan
There have been better
Michael Hui is one of Hong Kong's most talented scriptwriters and given the overall quality of his films, he's allowed one duffer from time to time.
The Contract isn't exactly poor and it only fails comparison when one compares it to other Hui efforts, such as the brilliant Security Unlimited (1981). The lead cast is the same: Michael Hui and his two brothers, Sam and Ricky, all playing friends who get caught in circumstances a little outside their control. Sam provides the theme tune, again, and while the melody is memorable, the song didn't hit the charts with as much vigour as some of this other offerings.
This time, the plot revolves around a contract signed with a TV studio whose CEOs are expected to commit suicide when ratings plummet. This more or less describes the silliness of the film and unlike other Hui-penned comedies, The Contract relies too much on slapstick and not enough on clever lines. Hui also relies on gadgetry - while this plays tiny parts in other films, it's written in here more.
For once, Ricky Hui doesn't play the sympathetic loser, but a technical inventor and genius with aspirations to become the next Thomas Edison; Sam is the usual mid-1970s stud who's also an aspiring magician; Michael begins the film as an unbelievably poor dancer and extra at a television studio.
There are some high points (Michael and Ricky attempt to get the contract back from the studio's safe) but in all, many scenes are milked way beyond what the script allowed through Hui's own direction. Good for those who appreciate Hui's humour and style; while served with less quantity, it should have enough pace for those who enjoy a 1970s Hong Kong comedy.