Issue #279          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES     September 5th, 2005

Chicken and Duck Talk
(1988; Hui's Film Production Co.)

Cantonese: Gai tung aap gong
Mandarin: Ji tong ya jiang
English: Chicken With Duck Talk

  RATING: 8/10


One of Michael Hui Koon-man's best outings, CHICKEN AND DUCK TALK is a witty and thoroughly engaging send-up of both the fast food business and the cutthroat techniques often employed by conglomerates to crush independent competition. Hui plays a like-named everyman who runs an absolutely filthy, hole-in-the-wall restaurant. A notorious skinflint who regularly cheats his staff, he also happens to be a world class chef who makes the most exquisite Cantonese BBQ duck around. However, things are looking grim for Hui: his sarcastic mother-in-law has just arrived, one of the employees (Lowell Lo Kwun-ting) wants to steal his secret duck recipe, and multi-millionaire Danny Poon (Lawrence Ng Kai-wah) has just opened up an ultra-modern fried chicken outlet across the street. Using strict Japanese management techniques, Danny's Chicken is a force to be reckoned with and, on opening day, Poon is already planning on bankrupting Hui and demolishing his restaurant. Desperate to save his floundering business, Hui tries to modernize his approach by transforming the establishment into the world's first karaoke "B.B.Q. Duck Lounge" (!) and even introduces a homemade store mascot. However, Poon's assistant (Ku Feng) arranges for the health inspector to show up on Hui's doorstep, just after he has infested the building with rats! Facing ruin, Hui resorts to emergency measures.

Michael Hui Koon-man Ricky Hui Koon-ying

The storyline provides the perfect set-up for Hui to work his magic as the struggling little guy who just cannot get ahead, and Sylvia Chang Ai-chia is charming as his patient wife. Ricky Hui Koon-ying also provides fine support as sadsack waiter Cuttlefish, who is fired by Hui and defects to the enemy, working as their mascot. The sequence where Ricky (clad in the store's chicken suit) and Michael (wearing his ratty duck costume) get into a street fight is the film's oft-acknowledged highlight. Sam Hui Koon-kit has an amusing cameo as himself, and director Clifton Ko Chi-sum (as one of Hui's new employees), producer Ronny Yu Yan-tai (as a construction worker), Yip Wing-cho, and Paula Tsui Siu-fung also appear. Parts of Richard Yuen Cheuk-fan's score are very reminiscent of tracks from BEVERLY HILLS COP and STREETS OF FIRE.

Sylvia Chang Ai-chia (left), Michael Hui Koon-man L to R: Ku Feng, Lawrence Ng Kai-wah, Sam Hui Koon-kit


Michael Hui fans have been waiting a long time for CHICKEN AND DUCK TALK to finally get a DVD release and they certainly deserved a better presentation than this. Customers limited to NTSC playback will be out-of-luck as the DVD is actually PAL format, despite claims to the contrary on the packaging. Forget about re-mastering: the transfer is ancient and taken from a worn theatrical print. There are no supplementary materials of any kind. The image and audio quality are bearable, and the entertainment value of the film makes the DVD worth considering anyway, but if you already have the Mei Ah laserdisc, there is no reason to buy the movie again.

Lowell Lo Kwun-ting Michael Hui Koon-man (center)

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Hui's Film Production Co./New Century Workshop. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.


- Hong Kong Release

PAL – Region 0

Hui’s Film Production Co./New Century Workshop #HF0501D

Dolby Digital 2.0

Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language

Subtitles (Permanent): English, Traditional Chinese

6 Chapters

4:3 Letterbox (1.85:1)

95 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)


- Hong Kong: I

Quebec: G

Singapore: PG

Sweden: 7

Contains some coarse language and mild racial humor

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