5 December 2004 | elephant1024
Forget Shaolin Soccer. This is slapstick comedy at its finest.
One of the funniest slapstick comedies out there, this movie rivals Royal Tramp and Tricky Brains in its comedic value. This movie absolutely requires knowledge of Chinese history, especially of the main character, Tong Bak Fu. It also requires knowledge of Hong Kong popular culture from the 50's to the 90's. Indeed, this movie references everything that is Chinese, from Tong Bak Fu's scholar friends to the Cantonese dub of Dragonball Z, and everything in between. Of course, without such complete knowledge, what is supposed to be funny is not even mildly amusing, as the comedic element in scenes are often subtle or obscure or both.
Tong Bak Fu is a malcontent scholar of great renown who has eight wives. Somehow, his wives have come to take complete control his life, and he finds himself constantly at their mercy, who do nothing but gamble with each other. His friends too, have become nothing more than an annoyance. Desiring romance, he ventures out to seek true love--and finds himself fallen in love with a servant of a wealthy household. Back in those days, servants, though often socially lower than family, were considered a part of the household and subject to the jurisdiction of the family, especially--in this case--the matriarch. Tong Bak Fu must disguise himself as a peasant and sell his services to the family in order to woo the girl and eventually marry her. With the help of a manservant, he gets in and finally learns the name of the girl--Chou Herng. That of course, is where everything goes wrong.
Stop now if you cannot identify the three places that are blatantly set up for comedy in the above narrative. Now, I don't mean that my rather apathetic introduction is funny in and of itself, but rather that at least three of the things I've described have the potential to develop into a very funny scene. If you can find all three places exhibiting the potential for comedy this movie will be absolutely hilarious. If you can find two, this movie might be pretty funny, but nothing special. If you can find one, don't expect too much. If you cannot find any, then move along--this movie isn't for you.