Hong Kong Digital
is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- associate
editor / film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author
of The Hong Kong Filmography.
Despite being less than a master chef and far from flush with cash, Kuk (Eric Tsang Chi-wai) decides to open a noodle restaurant, with the help of his teenage son, Kuk-fung (Laurence Chou Chun-wai), and grade school age daughter Cocoa (Yuki Lai Yuen-tung). Soon after, they are joined by adorable Carlily Pang (Rainie Yang Cheng-lin) and her tomboy sister, Heman (GLASS TEARS' Zeny Kwok Sin-yu), who are related to the previous tenant. Fung is instantly attracted to Carlily and the two start dating, while Cocoa finds her own companion in Locust (Darren Cheng Dao-lam), an impoverished orphan, whose grandmother (Helena Law Lan) supports them by rooting through garbage every day. Heman is a major detriment to Kuk-fung's love life but, after some prodding from Carlily, the enemies go on the "King of the Street" game show together and end up becoming much closer than anyone would ever have expected.
From left to right: Laurence Chou, Rainie Yang and Zeny Kwok. Image courtesy Deltamac.
Director Thomas Chow Wai-kwan and screenwriter / DJ GC Goo-bi have fashioned a predictable but sweet and disarming coming-of-age story, while also daring to assert that money is not the key to happiness (not exactly the axiom HK cinema is built upon). The cinematography and settings are consistently attractive (and, at times, almost as idealized as the story) but likeable performances are the main draw here, with the young cast members consistently hitting the right notes. The attack on Eric Tsang in July of 2001 occurred before MERRY-GO-ROUND had wrapped, so there are a few shots here where his face looks rather battered. Normally, a continuity flaw like this would not be overly detrimental but his character is so happy-go-lucky that it is mildly distressing to see prominent bruises materializing from time-to-time. Vincent Kuk Tak-chiu and Ann Hui On-wah appear briefly, and Kelly Chan Wai-lam has a brash, not-very-funny cameo as the geeky "Lady Brace."
MERRY-GO-ROUND is available at Poker Industries.