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January 21st, 2002 Issue #92a

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.

United We Stand, and Swim
(2001; Mei Ah Film Production Co. / Brilliant Idea Group / hongkongmovie.com)

Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: 4 x 100 siu jeuk fun ji
Mandarin: 4 x 100 shui zhu fen zi
English: 4 x 100 Water Team


Yu Kam-kei (Sam Mei / Sammy Leung), aka Little Fish, is not having a good day. First, he gets dumped by his girlfriend when she discovers his inability to swim. Then, he discovers that the hot girl he's been communicating with on ICQ is actually his mother, "Queen Victoria" (Helena Law Lan). Embarrassed by Fish's lack of aquatic prowess, mom enrols him in a class taught by Mao (Anthony Wong Chau-sang), an unconventional coach who has his own line of bathing suits. The decidedly motley class also includes deranged triad Fat Dice (Wyman Wong Wai-man, sporting a ridiculous toupee), deluded alcoholic Man-keung (Joe Lee Yiu-ming), a cloyingly cutesy couple, and the beautiful Audrey (Pace Wu Pei-chi, looped by someone else), who gives Fish the proverbial nosebleed. A team of stuck-up pro swimmers picks on Fat Dice's little boy, leading to a scuffle and a vow by all involved to settle their differences in the pool via a 4 x 100 relay race. The beginners only have a month to, not only, learn how to swim but also do it well enough to beat their challengers.

Anthony Wong. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Writer / director Matt Chow Hoi-kwong tries to keep UNITED WE STAND, AND SWIM loose and amiable but it merely comes across as lumbering and unfocussed. The sports movie formula has its built-in limitations from a story standpoint but this particular one barely even offers the basics, with characters overcoming their limitations and phobias in thoroughly unbelievable fashion. Attempts at character development are as half-hearted and ineffectual as everything else and come across merely as padding in a film that is already about 90% fat. Completed in 2000, the movie sat on the shelf for some time before finally surfacing towards the end of last year. Trivia note: Leung and co-star Kitty Yuen (Siu Yee) are both DJs for HK Commercial Radio.

DVD Specs:

Mei Ah #DVD-457
Dolby Digital 2.1
Sync Sound Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Letterboxed (1.74:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
90 Minutes
Contains some off-colour humour

DVD menu courtesy Mei Ah.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Hong Kong: IIB (though nothing here strays outside the usual parameters of IIA)


This is a decent presentation, with robust hues and a sharp image. The sync sound Cantonese track is passable but the Mandarin dub is tinny and compressed. A trailer for GLASS TEARS in the Best Buy section is the only extra and there is no time coding.


UNITED WE STAND AND SWIM is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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