Monday, December 29, 2008

Prince Charming

It's weird reviewing a film that neither Kozo or Brian has already reviewed.

1984's Prince Charming is a pretty weird and sometimes dreadful Wong Jing feature that has the distinction of being -- correct me if I'm wrong here -- Maggie Cheung's first feature.

The film is a kind of mistaken identity romp reminiscent of 1930's screwball comedies in America -- but I think I'm being too kind!

Kenny Bee and Nat Chan are two young guys in Hawaii looking for love. Kenny's father is a big businessman and Nat is from a poorer background. Kenny is unlucky with girls, getting the hiccups when he is around them, and Nat is such an expert that he is going to help Kenny find a woman, get married, and thus please his family.

There are some Benny Hill-style shenanigans on the beach and the two fellows meet Cherie Chung and Maggie Cheung.

The plot abruptly shifts back to Hong Kong where Kenny is now set to investigate one of his father's shady business underlings who is apparently embezzling or something. In a lot of nonsensical zaniness, Nat is somehow mistaken for Kenny's character and Kenny is left to pretend to be Nat's chauffeur.

What follows is probably the most enjoyable part of the film with Kenny trying to woo Cherie and Nat trying to woo Maggie. Kenny and Cherie's date at the movies is cute in a kind of slapstick way, bringing to mind similar very low budget comedies from the same era in America.

Rosamund Kwan shows up with a very 1980's hairdo -- I think she actually got better looking as she got older -- as a woman hired to seduce and marry Kenny, I think.

The ending of the film dissolves into the typical Wong Jing mindlessness -- it's almost like they ran out of money and had to figure out a way to wrap up the plot. The end bits of action are so out of place and odd and nonsensical that comparing them to the Benny Hill Show would be a major compliment.

Look for Wong Jing himself in a small cameo as well.

For fans of the Hong Kong actors involved, this film is probably an essential viewing experience; Maggie Cheung in her first role, Cherie Chung looking impossibly gorgeous in just about every shot of film, and even Kenny Bee managing to make the pastel fashions of the 1980's look good.

And Cherie's brother-in-law in the film is played by Hong Kong film veteran, Chan Wai-Man.

And Kenny Bee's mother is played by HK veteran actress Ouyang Sha-fei.

The DVD

The Celestial Region 3 DVD is anamorphic widescreen -- a nice touch -- with a pretty good picture that looked just a trifle grainy in some scenes. It has both Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks -- I'm guessing by this era that most films shot in Hong Kong were released in Cantonese. Additional extras include the original trailer and some stills.

You can order the DVD from YesAsia here.