Issue #225           HOME          E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com        BACK ISSUES            August 16th, 2004

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Enter The Phoenix
(2004; Emperor Motion Pictures/JCE Movies Ltd/Homfaith Limited Production)

Cantonese: Dai lo oi mei lai
Mandarin: Da lao ai mei li
English: Big Brother Loves Beauty

RATING: 5/10

REVIEW:

Stephen Fung Tak-lun stepped behind the camera to helm this gangster comedy which offers a few smiles but fails to make much of an impression. Twenty-five years after his rival, Boss Lui Fai (Michael Chan Wai-man), swore a truce between their factions, Red Honor triad leader Hung (Yuen Biao) lies near death in his lush villa. Underling Cheung (Law Kar-ying) and his dimwitted son, Kin (Chapman To Man-chat), are dispatched to Bangkok with orders to locate their leader’s wayward son, Georgie (Daniel Wu Yan-zu). The idiots mistakenly believe roommate Sam (Eason Chan Yik-shun) to be Hung’s heir apparent but Sam is thrilled: he has always dreamed of being a triad boss! After some pleading, Georgie (who is gay) reluctantly agrees to go along with the ruse for his old friend, who has no trouble enjoying all of the perks that come with being number one. However, he cannot hope to successfully pass for a gei lo, given his obvious lust for Lui’s spunky daughter, Julie (Karen Mok Man-wai), who only has eyes for the more handsome and cultured Georgie. Though he does his best to dissuade her first via subtle hints and then a flat out confession of his preference for men, Julie will not rest until Georgie agrees to be her boyfriend. While he may not want to be a dai lo, Georgie has clearly inherited his father’s leadership qualities, and Sam is very lucky to have him by his side, as a violent confrontation with Cheng Chow (Fung) is brewing. One of Lui’s underlings, the fierce young hood has pledged to eliminate Sam, as retribution for a perceived slight dealt to him by Georgie’s deceased father.

Yuen Biao (left), Michael Chan Law Kar-ying (left), Chapman To Eason Chan

ENTER THE PHOENIX (a misleading title if there ever was one) is a reasonably promising start for its young director but, like most first-timers, Fung overdoes it with the technical flourishes (split screen, overly elaborate camera set-ups, etc) to the point of viewer distraction. It is a shame that he did not lavish a commensurate amount of attention and care on his flimsy script (co-authored by Lo Yiu-fai). The abundant low humor is undeniably effective on occasion (a surprising number of solid laughs can be had from hearing the ever-flustered Law Kar-ying cursing in English and there are some inspired celebrity cameos) but ultimately undercuts the film’s accomplishments. Georgie is the most respectable and intelligent character here but his sexual orientation is nothing more than a springboard for the kind of lame gay jokes and broad characterizations (with Stephen Chiau regular Lee Kin-yan being the worst offender) found in far too many HK movies. An abundance of overly flashy, wire-enhanced combat during the finale is at odds with most everything preceding it, the considerable appeal of Karen Mok is largely squandered, and Eason Chan’s mugging does little to make his dubious character any more appealing. On the other hand, the pairing of Law and To is comic gold, even with this material, the terminally blank Daniel Wu is a bit more dashing than usual, and Yuen Biao comes off quite well in a role that relies solely on his histrionic talents.

Daniel Wu Karen Mok Stephen Fung


PRESENTATION:

Mild smearing can be detected, colors are a little pasty in spots, and contrasts tend to be flat. It is not a bad presentation but not on par with what one might expect, given the "HD" notation on the cover. The audio is effectively mixed and balanced (a 2.0 Mandarin dub is also included). The 12 Minute "Making of..." program (in Cantonese with permanent Traditional subs) includes brief interviews and some behind-the-scenes footage. Also on hand are Star Files for the four leads, a photo gallery, the theatrical trailer, and trailers for three other Universe titles. Note: the pan&scan option has been activated on this DVD, so it will playback at a cropped ratio of 1.80:1, if your player is not at the "widescreen" or "letterbox" setting.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Universe. To read captions, hover mouse over image.


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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Universe Laser & Video Co. Ltd. #6590-9
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0/DTS
  • Sync Sound Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese
  • 8 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.39:1)
  • 105 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Hong Kong: IIB
  • Quebec: G
  • Singapore: NC16
  • Contains coarse language, mild violence, and some crude content

FILM REVIEW RATINGS KEY:

  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful