Monday, August 25, 2008

Rob-B-Hood (Hong Kong 2006)

After Jackie Chan had seemingly returned to Hong Kong to show us what he's made of (see: New Police Story), I was starting to wonder if he would continue giving us that brand of comedic-action that he's known for. With Rob-B-Hood (寶貝計劃), not only does Jackie give us the stunts and action that we've come to love from him, but the slap-stick antics as well. Still, the film as a whole is far from perfect.

Thongs (Jackie Chan) and Octopus (Louis Koo) are two burglars under the direction of Landlord (Michael Hui) who find themselves in a hairy situation while trying to steal prescription medication from the hospital. Security finally catches on to their thievery, but before they can do anything about it, they're distracted by some madman (Terence Yin) trying to steal a woman's newborn baby. During the ruckus, the kidnapper falls to his death with Thongs coming to the rescue of the newborn. As we learn more about our thieving trio, we see that Thongs, even with a very large family, is really all alone. They obviously don't approve of his questionable lifestyle, and with a major gambling problem, he still tries to win them over with lavish gifts. Octopus can't stop spending his money on expensive clothes, cars, and women that he takes out on the town...even though his wife Yan (Charlene Choi) is working as hard as she can to keep his attention. Landlord has been saving his cut of the money over the years and is planning his retirement with his wife (Teresa Carpio). She seems to have lost her mind due to a miscarriage from years earlier that left her mentally scarred and desiring a baby, which her husband can no longer provide. Things seem to be completely normal in their world until someone robs Landlord of his millions in savings. Desperate, he tries to convince Thongs and Octopus to take on one last job which will result in a massive payday for the three of them. Little do Thongs and Octopus realize, Landlord plans to kidnap a baby (unbeknownst to his understudies), the same baby (Matthew Medvedev) caught up in the ruckus at the hospital, which goes against everything Landlord has taught the two. However, as the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. During the escape, Thongs and Octopus (with baby in tow) are separated from Landlord who was captured by the police. Now the two thieves are stuck with a baby and neither of them have any idea how to take care of one. Let the hilarity ensue!

Thongs and Octopus struggle with buying the right type of diapers, changing those diapers, feeding the baby with the proper food and so on. A cute, friendly nurse (Gao Yuanyuan) assists the two in taking care of the child and possibly even crushes on Thongs in the process. All the while, Landlord is working on a deal with a crime boss (Chen Baoguo) who wants the baby in order to find out if it's a party of family. See, the son of the crime boss was the madman trying to steal the baby from the hospital, claiming he was the father. Needless to say, Thongs and Octopus grow increasingly affectionate towards the baby are not exactly thrilled in handing him over to the baddies. When they do, they realize the mistake they've made and storm through the front gates to get him back.

What can you say about Jackie Chan, who despite his age, still manages to muster up enough inspiration to amuse and entertain his audience in creative new ways. Sure the addition of a baby thrown into the mix makes for more CGI moments than I care to see, but I don't expect to see the child really hanging off the side of a building so it's easy to let moments like this slide. Jackie's performance is amusing as always, but even next to the man with the tan, you can't help but feel like Louis Koo is the real comic relief here. Basically, both actors do a great job at providing the laughs. Michael Hui rides that fine line between being someone you can sympathize with and someone who's just a complete weasel. Teresa Carpio as his mentally distraught wife, while at times portraying someone quite pitiful, comes across more as over-the-top to me. The action scenes are great to watch, and the inclusion of Yuen Baio as Officer Mok amps up a cleverly choreographed apartment scene. The action scene in the final act, against the men in white, is the true stand-out of the film and props are cleverly used in true Jackie Chan fashion. The only real trouble with Rob-B-Hood is the ending. I know, I know...the ending is so important to the film in the grand scheme of things, but the insanely dramatic and wholly unnecessary manner in which things are played out (cars, batteries, babies!), while somewhat emotion-inducing, was also enough to make me scratch my head.

Rob-B-Hood is a good movie, not great, but definitely entertaining and innocent enough to please the young ones. It isn't without it's flaws, and few movies are, but in the grand scheme of things, they can be overlooked due to having far more good parts than bad. A worth-while viewing and a must for Jackie Chan fans. (Lee)

Grade: B


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