1 July 2016 | chrichtonsworld
Sammo Hung coming to terms with old age and dementia.
Let me start this review with a translated quote used in the film: The old man is like Kung Fu Panda I have no clue if they truly said that originally. Despite, this quote does sum up the abilities of Sammo Hung's character Ding. Ding is a retired Central Security Bureau officer from Beijing who is in the early stages of dementia. He is a man full of regret and remorse but chooses to seclude himself rather than confront the issues that are plaguing him. One big strain on him is the fact that his granddaughter got missing while he was watching over her. But then at one point in time Cherry Li , a little girl from next door sneaks into his apartment to hide there after fighting with her father. Which is the start of an unique friendship.
One thing you will have to understand that this Sammo Hung vehicle isn't the typical martial arts film he used to make. Sammo has gotten old and apparently he wanted to address this. So most of the focus is on Ding being an old man. He receives some backup from old friends to make this statement. People like Yuen Baio, Dean Shek, Yuen Wah, and Tsui Hark to name but a few. These are nothing but glorified cameo's. But since I had not read anything about the film in advance I was pleasantly surprised to see them. For me it wasn't a disappointment like some reviewers have stated. More so because they had been given the impression to come into action as well. Now that would have been something I must admit so I do understand the criticism. Although it did not hurt what they were going for in the film. At it's core this film is about Ding coming to terms with old age, dementia and guilt. The action is just in service of this.
This explains the fact that there is not that much action. And while I also was expecting more I understand that somehow this would not be fitting regarding the theme. Or even would destroy the message that Sammo Hung wants to make clear to the audience. But don't despair the little action that is present is more than satisfying. Especially in the finale where Sammo goes Steven Seagal on the bad guys. Mainly using his arms and where he is using his opponents power against them. It makes sense to me that on old man would be limited in his move set so that was a nice touch.
Andy Lau also is involved in this film as an actor and producer. He plays the low life father of Cherry and basically is the reason why trouble starts in the first place. His role while significant is small and just right as he manages to evoke enough emotions. Another thing you have to understand is that this film doesn't go that deep into issues like dementia or bad parenting. Instead it tries to appeal to your emotions about these issues. And this is something that Sammo Hung does real well.
So for me this film was well worth the watch and while I was expecting a more action packed adventure I got something just as good in return. We all become old one day and then we can't do the things we used to do. You have to be prepared for that.