What a Hero!
AKA: What a Hero
Year of release: 1992
Director: Benny Chan
Action directors: Mak Fei-Hung, Benz Kong, Poon Kin-Gwan
Producer: Yuen Gam-Lun
Writers: Hoh Dun
Cinematography: Cheng Siu-Keung, Wong Bo-Man, Patrick Jim
Editor: Ma Chung-Yiu
Music: William Hu
Stars: Andy Lau, Roy Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Anthony Wong, Michael Chan, Nick Cheung, Paul Chun Pui, Meg Lam, Shing Fui-On
Rated II for violence and language
Movie Review Index
In What a Hero, Andy Lau plays Hwa, a cop who is promoted from his hometown beat on Lantau Island to a prestigious assignment in the big city. However, upon his arrival, Hwa finds himself placed with a group of losers led by the scatter-brained Uncle Yi (Michael Chan). Yi's team is ridiculed by the other teams in the department, most notably one led by the cocky Yeung (Roy Cheung).
Hwa's team manages to crack a major case, but Yeung takes the credit, which leads Hwa to become disillusioned and go back home. Wanting to prove his worth to his childhood love, Nan (Maggie Cheung) and his mother (Meg Lam), Hwa heads back to the city to take on Yeung in a taekwando tournament.
It's no secret that many Hong Kong comedies don't translate very well to western audiences. Whether it's pop-culture references or Cantonese puns, a lot of these types of movies simply don't work for English speakers. But the better films in the genre (most notably those starring Stephen Chow) can overcome cultural differences and provide entertainment no matter the viewer's native language.
What a Hero is not a movie like that -- but it's not due to any sort of cultural barrier. It's just simply not a very good movie. The jokes are extremely dopey, even by Hong Kong comedy standards, where the realm of the scatalogical is considered hallowed ground. The proceedings generate a few chuckles along the way, but finding any true laughs here is an exercise in futility.
Director Benny Chan tries to liven things up with some action sequences. You might think that these might help matters, especially since Chan has done some solid action work in movies like Big Bullet. Sadly, that's not the case. The action is exaggerated to the point of being utterly ridiculous. Can the audience really be made to believe that Andy Lau can do 720 degree spinning kicks? Since Lau is so heavily doubled, the film-makers obviously didn't think so, and their attempts at illusion are completely transparent.
What a Hero isn't a total stiff, but it is extremely disappointing, especially considering the cast involved. Star power is sometimes enough to save a movie and make it into something worth watching. But, in this case, it only make this production's shortcomings all that more glaring.