20 February 2012 | andrewcong
Stephen Chow's 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' meets 'The Mask'
Sing (Stephen Chow) is a spoilt snotty nosed brat living in Hawaii. He spends his time pulling pranks on hapless friend Siu-Fu (Lee Kin-yan) and his butler Tat (Ng Man-Tat). The arrogant, egotistical jerk is one of Chow's stock characters (see also 'The God of Cookery' (1996)) who experiences a tragic downfall and is humbled by his experience. Sing is pursued by the Triads, blown up and reconstituted as a cyborg by mad scientist Chang (Elvis Tsui). Conveniently, Chang's niece Chung-Chung (Gigi Leung) is the ugly duckling that flowers into Sing's love interest.
Expect the same Stephen Chow brand of slapstick comedy, puns and wordplay, caricature and vulgarity that define his unique sense of Hong Kong humour. But the film is less an original film than Stephen Chow's parody of contemporaneous Western films ('Terminator 2: Judgment Day' (1991), 'The Mask' (1994), 'Pulp Fiction' (1994)). Chow really plays his own version of 'The Mask' half fused with the Terminator. But unlike the veritable walking weapon T-1000, Chow is something more of a George Foreman grill. The gag is that he can only change his cyborg form to household appliances. Much to my delight, about halfway into the film there is even an almost shot-by-shot remake of the dance number in 'Pulp Fiction', with hilarious results. Although, given the fact that Hong Kong audiences watched very few Hollywood films during the 90s, one wonders how much of this film can be legitimately called parody and how much is simply Chow's gratuitous repackaging of Hollywood for Hong Kong audiences. Nonetheless, the Hong Kong centric focus of the film reveals itself in the final showdown at the end, with Chow playing up an in-joke that few audiences outside of Hong Kong would fully appreciate.
The film is awfully dated when it comes to special effects. One gets the sense that many of the situations in the plot were contrived to show off those special effects. These kinds of special effects were awfully dated even for the 90s - when one recalls the kinds of special effects wonders that were being weaved on screen by Hollywood - what was director Raymond Yip thinking? Nonetheless, if you can ignore the campy special effects, there are enough laughs here to warrant a viewing.