HKMDB Daily News

July 1, 2013

Badges of Fury (Variety review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , , — dleedlee @ 8:53 pm

Badges of Fury

JUNE 28, 2013
Maggie Lee

As a vehicle for Jet Li and rising Chinese thesp Wen Zhang to show off their kung fu and comedy chops, respectively, “Badges of Fury” narrowly passes muster as a silly time-killer, souped up with some wackily conceived action. Mainland-produced but helmed by Hong Kong newcomer Wong Tsz-ming, the film — pairing Li and Wen as bickering cops cracking a serial murder case — coasts along on gags and slapstick, with multiple star cameos the icing on this unnourishing cake. Pic opened strong domestically before being overshadowed by “Man of Steel,” and should have ancillary legs in genre markets.

“Badges” has all the trappings of a film typically released over a Chinese holiday period: a rambling hodgepodge of genres and movie parodies featuring dozens of stars in blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em cameos. Produced by Beijing Enlight Pictures, the company that released China’s biggest domestic hit, “Lost in Thailand,” the film may be dominated by mainland stars, but its style and sensibility are informed by ’80s Hong Kong kitsch and the sort of head-scratching ’90s humor influenced by H.K. multihyphenate Stephen Chow. Curiously, however, neither the setting nor the art direction seems consciously retro.

Li and Wen (“Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons,” “Love Is Not Blind”) have teamed up twice before to convivial effect, first as a father-and-autistic-son duo in “Ocean Heaven” (2010), then as a demon-slaying Buddhist monk and his daffy disciple in “The Sorcerer and the White Snake” (2011). Here, Li plays Huang Feihong, a seasoned detective with brains and brawn, and a tribute to his same-named role in Tsui Hark’s “Once Upon a Time in China” series. Wen is Wang Bu’er, a blundering cop who suffers from delusions of genius. They’re ordered by senior officer Angela Chan (Michelle Chen, “You Are the Apple of My Eye”) to solve the serial “Smile Murders,” so named because the victims are all found with mysterious smiles on their faces.

The first 30 minutes offer a brazenly artificial setup designed to bring on a roster of star cameos: An actor (TV thesp Cheng Kar-wing), a diver (former Olympic diver Tian Liang), a dancer (TV actor and dance-contest champion Tse Tin-wah) and a property developer (Tong Dawei) all fall victim to the killer. One thing the victims have in common is that they all dated and dumped B-list actress Liu Jingshui (Cecilia Liu Shishi).

After a few dumb good-cop-bad-cop hijinks, the story finally gets juicy with the appearance of Liu’s prodigiously busty half-sister, Dai Yiyi (Liu Yan); she’s dating Liu’s old flame, Gao Min (Raymond Lam), and does some rather creepy things with a voodoo doll. Alas, that’s only half of the madcap plot, which continues to pile on wacko characters like grizzled gangster Tiger Crane Lucky (Leung Kar-yan), Liu’s paralyzed uncle (Leung Siu-lung) and his peeping-Tom son (Stephen Fung).

Whenever the comedy starts to sag, the film injects a fight scene (reliably staged by Corey Yuen), which generally does the trick. The 50-ish Li still possesses plenty of stamina, as is clear whether he’s making daring leaps or matching national martial-arts champ Wu Jing punch for punch. The bigger setpieces, such as a group rumble or a showdown at a Chinese opera house, have a nostalgic feel but are no less robustly lensed (by Kenny Tse) and edited (by Angie Lam), although they rely rather excessively on slo-mo and jump cuts.

While the shambolic narrative offers less drama or spectacle than Li and Wen’s previous collaborations, the actors’ chemistry remains intact, thanks to Wen’s unique brand of cluelessness, which helps bring out Li’s snarky side (absent from his straight heroic roles). Taiwanese thesp Chen spends most of the time looking annoyed or stumped, but her vivaciousness meshes well with Wen’s over-the-top clowning. Lee is purely functional and so bland that it’s understandable why so many men would want to ditch her.

Tech credits are average, with sets on the shoddy side. Wardrobe by Shirley Chan is in line with the Wong Jing and Raymond Wong school of costume design, predicated on the notion that no skirt can be too short and no cleavage too visible.

Reviewed at Shanghai Film Art Center, July 24, 2013. Running time: 97 MIN. Original title: “Bu’er shentan”

Production
(China-Hong Kong) A Beijing Enlight Pictures (in China)/Newport Entertainment Co. (in Hong Kong) release of a Beijing Enlight Pictures, Hong Kong Pictures Intl. presentation, Beijing Enlight Pictures, Hong Kong Pictures Intl., My Way Film Co., Intrend Entertainment Co. production in association with China Film Co-Prod. (International sales: Easternlight Films, Los Angeles.) Produced by Chui Po-chu, Abe Kwong, Chan Chi-leung. Executive producers, Wang Changtian, Li Xiaoping.

Crew
Directed by Wong Tsz-ming. Screenplay, Carbon Cheung. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Kenny Tse; editor, Angie Lam; music, Raymond Wong Ying-wah; production designer, Alex Mok; costume designer, Shirley Chan; sound (Dolby Digital), Tam Tak-wing, Ken Wong, Phyllis Cheng; special effects, H.K. Screen Art; visual effects supervisor, Li Jinhua; visual effects, Different Digital Design, Digital Intermediate; action director, Corey Yuen; second unit camera, Fu Ga-yu.

With
Jet Li, Wen Zhang, Michelle Chen, Cecilia Liu Shishi, Liu Yan, Raymond Lam, Stephen Fung, Leung Siu-lung, Wu Jing, Leung Kar-yan, Collin Chou, Cheng Kar-wing, Tse Tin-wah, Tian Liang, Tong Dawei, Huang Xiaoming, Ma Yili, Alex Fong, Stephy Tang, Lam Suet, Josie Ho. (Mandarin dialogue)

Variety

June 25, 2013

Badges of Fury (Hollywood Reporter review)

Filed under: Reprints — Tags: , , — dleedlee @ 12:44 pm

Badges of Fury
6/24/2013 by Deborah Young

Hong Kong action star Jet Li takes a backseat to young co-star Wen Zhang in a local cop spoof featuring a pantheon of star cameos.

From the first scene with an antsy young Hong Kong cop hopping around in a kilt disguised as part of a Scottish dance group, followed by a raucous free-for-all in which his man gets away, Badges of Fury stakes out its territory as broad laughs dressed up with some watchable if not remarkable fight sequences. What’s hot here is the cast and a shower of star cameos that should boost local box office in Hong Kong and China. Though top billing goes to Hong Kong action idol Jet Li as an aging cop who’s tired of the routine and longs for retirement, the story centers around youngsters Wen Zhang as a hot-shot rookie and Michelle Chen as his relatively straight superior. Outside Asia it is unlikely to roll far.

In a lot of ways, the well-paced script by Carbon Cheung (A Chinese Ghost Story) seems aimed at spoofing a lost bumbling cop genre, updated to the bare minimum with modern car chases and policewomen in shorts. Making his directing bow, Wong Tsz-ming brings real affection to his silly detectives, who are on the trail of a serial killer who leaves all his victims smiling. The “Smile Murders” turn out to be linked by an unhappy young actress (China’s Cecilia Liu): all the victims are her ex-boyfriends. But wait! They’ve all been stolen by her sexy, envious, unscrupulous sister (Ada Liu), who likes to stick pins in a voodoo doll representing her famous sister. In the end, it hardly matters who killed the guys, as long as the action keeps coming.

Jet Li fans may be disappointed to see him warming the bench so often in favor of the irritating but more energetic young Wen, but Li does come to the rescue of his cocky teammate in several well-staged scenes, spritely edited by Angie Lam. Another surprise is Michelle Chen, the disturbing romantic lead of Ripples of Desire, in a comic sidekick role that proves her versatility. A dozen famous faces from Hong Kong and mainland cinema turn up in walk-on roles, including luminaries like Josie Ho, Wu Jing and Tong Dawei, who plays the Japanese arch-villain in Switch.

Venue: Shanghai Film Arts Center, June 23, 2012
Production companies: Beijing Enlight Pictures, Hong Kong Pictures International
Cast: Wen Zhang, Jet Li, Cecilia Liu, Michelle Chen, Ada Liu, Wu Jing, Tong Dawei
Director: Wong Tsz-ming
Screenwriter: Carbon Cheung
Producers: Chui Po-chu, Abe Kwong, Chan Chi-leung
Executive producers: Wang Changtian, Li Xiaoping
Director of photography: Kenny Tse
Production designer: Alex Mok
Music: Raymond Wong Ying-wah
Costume designer: Shirley Chan
Editor: Angie Lam
Sales: Easternlight Films
No rating, 98 minutes
THR

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