Friday, January 9, 2009

Papa Loves You (Hong Kong 2004)

The movie poster for Papa Loves You (這個阿爸真爆炸) should have been a dead give-away that below-average quality was rearing it's ugly head. Surprisingly, there are some slightly entertaining and even heart-warming moments to be found here. However, don't let those few moments fool you into thinking this is a great movie, cause boy howdy it ain't!

Yam (Tony Leung Ka Fai), is an over-protective single father to his teenage daughter Ellen (Charlene Choi), who happens to be at that age where she wants nothing more than to resist her obsessive fathers ways. Having to come to terms with the fact that his daughter is growing up, Yam continues to grow concerned about Ellen's behaviour and begins following her around to see just what it is she's up to. While dining in a cafe, Yam just happens to stop an attempted hit on Triad boss leader Hung (Eric Tsang), with his "shadowless hands" technique, a move that he only seems to use in cleaning up around the house. This fateful turn of events changes Yam's life considerably. Not only is Hung indebted to Yam, but Yam also develops a reputation around town as being the legendary Mo Ye Fei Ying, an assassin who supposedly took out over 100 men during a knife fight. The boys at Ellen's school, Orange (Kenny Kwan), and Fung (Steven Cheung), become obsessed with Yam, thinking he's a hardcore assassin, and want to learn how to fight from him. Of course, Yam has nothing to teach these boys, but he makes them believe he does and will teach them everything if they promise to keep an eye on Ellen to make sure she stays out of trouble. Things don't end up going so well when Ellen actually does get involved with the real Triads and Yam has to face their leader down, fronting as the legendary assassin. It's definitely not a good thing to be known as an exceptional fighter and triad member, when in reality you just teach piano. That type of reputation eventually creates a problem when Yam is forced into having a showdown with the real Triads in order to protect his daughter.

Let me be as frank as possible by saying that Papa Loves You is a ridiculous film. I know it's meant to be a comedy, and there are a few scenes where that genre label actually seems to fit. However, most of the film is so absurd and even downright cheesy, that you feel embarrassed to be watching it at all. This movie came out when popstars were still running rampant throughout every movie in Hong Kong, so the overall feel of the film has that artificial, childish vibe to it that only those who are familiar with the EEG films will know what I'm talking about. Tony Leung, as many know, is a more than adequate actor and his role here seems shockingly out of place, but he pulls it off to some charming extent. Eric Tsang, who I hold in pretty high esteem in the HK cinema ranks, turns in a "what was he thinking" cameo as triad leader Hung. Honestly, the whole movie will leave you scratching your head with it's questionably entertaining content.

I know my words seem incredibly harsh, but Papa Loves You is mostly deserving of those words. It's complete throw-away, teeny-bopper entertainment that really only serves that one specific demographic. Everyone else should probably steer clear, because calling the movie cute is about the best compliment I can muster. (Lee)

Grade: D


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