Year of release: 2004
Director: Wai Ka-Fai
Action director: Yuen Bun
Stars: Cecilia Cheung, Lau Ching-Wan, Louis Koo, Jordan Chan, Francis Ng, Christy Chung, Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung, Max Chan Long, Johnny Lu, Ronnie Cheung, Eric Kot, Tats Lau, Michael Hui
Rated IIA for mild language and toilet humor
Version reviewed: Mei Ah DVD
If you're a fan of 60's and 70's Hong Kong movies, then Fantasia is a movie that's right up your alley. Even if you haven't seen many films from that era, it's still a very funny movie that'll appeal to most any fan of Hong Kong comedy. At the very least, it's a refreshing change of pace from the dopey teeny-bopper romantic comedies that have been coming out as of late. Fantasia proves that you don't need a huge budget, lots of blood and boobs, or big special effects to make an good picture.
This film is a homage to earler Hong Kong movies, in particular the films of the Hui brothers. Lau Ching-Wan, Louis Koo and Jordan Chan (playing the Michael, Sam and Ricky Hui-based characters) are a trio of bumbling private investigators who are assigned to guard an antique shop. After they botch the job, the gang only has a few broken trinkets to show for their troubles. One of the items is a lamp that ends up producing a wizard (Cecilia Cheung, whose character is a combonation of Harry Potter and Josephine Siao's "Plain Jane") that says she can grant wishes.
However, her powers are delayed, so the detectives don't believe her, instead taking her for Jordan's crazy cousin (Christy Chung). After a while, the wizard's powers do kick in, which allows Louis to fight like Bruce Lee and Ching-Wan to always win at mahjong, which infuriates a local gang boss (Francis Ng, doing his best Shek Kin impression) who swears revenge. The detectives have to try and tie everything up and get their wishes without getting killed or going crazy. Complicating matters are Cecilia's "cousins", which include a loose-boweled creature (taken from the star of '60s anti-litter public service ads) and a pair of mischevious twins (played by, of course, Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung, who base their performance on the popular "Chopstick Twins" of the 60's).
To be honest, I haven't seen too many of the films referenced in here, so I probably lost some of the jokes. But Fantasia is still a very entertaining movie. Perhaps more importantly, it's smart as well. Instead of yet another Matrix parody, we have some brilliant stuff like a scene that manages to blend Jurassic Park and the Hui brothers classic Private Eyes. It looks like the cast really had a fun time making this movie, and that feeling transfers on to the viewer. Hell, I even enjoyed the Twins (who have been starting to wear thin lately) in this picture, and Lau Ching-Wan and Francis Ng are absolutely priceless. Their performances alone are worth the price of admission. When you add in a whole mess of other stars (the "man" himself, Michael Hui, has a small role, and even Andy Lau makes a semi-cameo) and some truly funny dialogue and physical antics, you have the makings of an outstanding comedy.
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