Friday, March 25, 2005

House of Fury

(This review is brought to you courtesy of MovieXclusive's lucky-draw invitation, without which it won't be out today, and I wouldn't have as much fun at the gala premiere - gala premiere observations will be published separately)

The overall narrative feel of House of Fury, is a mixture of Tim Burton's Big Fish, and Pixar's The Incredibles (with super powers replaced by kungfu prowess), but the delivery is not as well polished.

Simply put, it's a story about a single father (Anthony Wong) family (with Stephen Fung, the director, and Gillian Chung, one half of HK pop duo Twins, as his children), whose secret agent past catches up with him and threatens his family. Like Big Fish, while dramatizing his colourful past in delightful unbeatable-secret-agent-kung-fu-prowess stories, his children outgrows them and their disbelief causes their relationship with their father to be distant at best. Until somewhere along the way when they discover that those stories have some element of truth behind them.

Like The Incredibles, we are shown the potential of his kids, who naturally have learned kung fu, in a similar dining table setting, and when daddy's threatened, we also know that it is up to family to bail him out, and in the process, improving their family ties.

With a title (in mandarin) containing "Jing Wu", one cannot help but expect comparisons, references and the paying of homage to Bruce Lee and his film "Fists of Fury", and yes, this film does too. The name of Anthony Wong's shop contains the letters "Jing Wu", and during his fight with Japanese ninja type adversaries, we see the slow break up of the shop's name ("zhao pai") to not-so-subtly emphasize "Jing Wu", and the very hilarious and creative use of make-shift nanchakus. There is also the obligatory fights with "Ang Mos" (Westerners), and in this show, the Ang Mo is reduced to a teenage sensation whose expertise is with the staff. (We can't expect Chuck Norris now can we?)

The artistes are no real life exponents, and it is left up to Yuen Wo Ping to fashion the martial arts scenes. I applaud the film-makers deliberate crafting of various martial arts for the lead actors - Anthony Wong's style is subtle yet forceful (funny at times), Stephen Fung's direct and in-your-face, while Gillian Chung's is graceful, elegant, yet packs a punch (I like hers best).

However, the wire-work seems to be out of place in a movie like this, and somehow isn't as disciplined, so the audience can tell when it was used, as it's not well-executed to perfection. While we can suspend our belief in martial arts shows set in pugilistic worlds, where exponents can fly from tree to tree, or in unreal worlds like The Matrix where the laws of physics do not apply to those who are "free", having a film set in a real world scenario, and yet having people float around, somehow doesn't cut it. My personal opinion is if the kung fu was more grounded (pardon the pun) then it'll be perfect. And yes, wire-work with wires digitally removed doesn't mean one should opt shoddy work - watch and you'll see what I mean.

The good looking cast does compensate somewhat though, with special appearances by Daniel Wu and Charlene Choi, but it is the veterans like Anthony Wong and Wu Ma who lent some acting weight to this otherwise fluffy teenybopper show. The villains, led by Michael Wong, a cross between Austin Power's Dr Evil and James Bond's Blofeld on a wheelchair, are one-dimensional, and most prefer to let their fighting do the talking.

Like most HK contemporary movies, it is peppered with comedic moments throughout the film, very simple romances, a predictable plot cum ending without much emotional depth or theme. During the interview before the show, Stephen Fung was asked the message this film is bringing across, but sidestepped with an answer asking the audience to watch and decide for themeselves. Not a very good sign, but enjoyable as a popcorn movie.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...