New Year’s Day 2006
There’s a superstition in my family that says that whatever you do during New Year’s Day is what you’ll be doing all year round. Because of this, we were always told to keep money on our persons the whole day, and not to spend it until the 2nd, and then, only if we really, really had to.
I took this superstition to the test last year when I spent New Year’s Day writing for the TV show I worked for. Not only was it a waste of a perfectly good holiday, my 2005 was also spent working, and not in a good way.
This year, I decided to relax and research on my roots, which in this case means holing up with a bunch of Hong Kong comedies and watching them until my eyes got red and puffy.
Not the best thing for my beauty, but it did wonders for my sprit! What sparked this Chinese videofest was my watching Stephen Chow‘s Shaolin Soccer in Tagaytay with college friends. For some reason, we couldn’t get the DVD’s subtitles to come out so we had to watch the whole thing in Mandarin. There is nothing as pathetic as a bunch of Chinese people watching a Chinese movie and not being able to understand any of it. Aside from shaming all my ancestors, it got me in the mood for Chinese comedies. I don’t think I learned any Chinese during the movie marathon, but I did have lots of fun.
My New Year’s Weekend List:
God of Gamblers
Du Shen (1989), starring Chow Yun Fat and Andy Lau
This movie dispelled all my doubts of Chow Yun Fat’s reach and ability as an actor. When an actor who gets pegged as a gun-toting tough guy has to spend a third of the movie acting like a spoiled child (and doing a good job of it), you have to admit that he’s a genius!
God of Gamblers 2
Dou Hap (1991), starring Andy Lau and Stephen Chow
The movie focuses on Andy Lau, who, from being a small-time hustler in the first movie has graduated to being the “Knight of Gamblers.” He is forced to join forces with the supernaturally gifted Stephen Chow in order to defeat the bad guys. I love the scene in the gambling ship where Lau and Chow try to outwit the “supernatural powers master” by splitting up and hypnotising him. I guess a tradition of kung fu and Buddhism makes almost anything plausible.
Hail the Judge
Jiu Pin Zhi MaGguan Bai Mian Bao Qing Tian (1994), starring Stephen Chow
I wonder how the Chinese-speaking audience said that name in a hurry. Though still funny, Hail the Judge isn’t as fast or as hilarious as the more recent Stephen Chow flicks. It starts off fine, lags in the middle, and ends in a not-so-bad way. The special effects are outdated, but they’re still fun to watch because they’re so crude. It’s like a feel-good kung-fu sports flick for lawyers.
Dances with Dragon
Yu Long Gong Wu (1991), starring Andy Lau
Andy Lau used to be a big thing in high school, and now I understand why. Here, he is a Hong Kong billionaire who pretends to be an illegal refugee from Mainland China to get close to the girl of his dreams and to escape the girl his mother keeps pressing on him. It’s a romantic comedy in the traditional sense, complete with testosterone-fuled showdowns and a big romantic climax that involves roses and dancing. This is also the only movie I’ve seen where a girl with glasses gets the leading man, and for that alone, I approve.
Truant Heroes or Tao Xue Ging Xiong Zhuan (1992), starring Aaron Kwok
Aaron actually isn’t present half the time, but the film does revolve around his character, who has a birthmark in the shape of a scottish terrier on his butt.