Review: LAUGHING GOR: TURNING POINT 之變節 (2009) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Review: LAUGHING GOR: TURNING POINT 之變節 (2009)

Review: LAUGHING GOR: TURNING POINT 之變節 (2009)

Set before the event of E.U., the story begins with Laughing (Michael Tse) was already working as an undercover cop under Inspector Xian (Yuen Biao), the only man in the police force who knows his true identity. Laughing has been long deep undercover to get close with glam-rocking triad boss Brother One (Anthony Wong), who was himself once an undercover cop who forced to become a triad after finding himself unable to return to police life. During a possible bust, Xian suffers from a car accident and falls into a coma, leaving Laughing with no backup at all. Soon he finds himself on the run from both the police, lead by Poon (Felix Wong) and other triad bosses, Zatoi (Francis Ng) and Big Brother Fook (Eric Tsang). As the film progresses, we are treated to a series of flashbacks where Laughing was first a lowly convenience store clerk being mentored by Brother One. He was then later enrolled into police force by Brother One so he will become a mole there. On the other side, we also learned that Laughing is dating Zatoi's sister Karen (TVB starlet Fala Chen).


REVIEW: Rarely there is a Hong Kong movie spinoff that pays grand tribute to a certain character of a TV series but LAUGHING GOR: TURNING POINT did just that -- a big-screen version based on the enormously popular character of Michael Tse's Laughing Gor from TVB's extremely successful E.U. series which premiered back in February 2009. That E.U. series proved to be such a phenomenon that when the wisecracking triad boss/undercover cop Laughing Gor died, the "Laughing Gor" group on Facebook immediately mushroomed to 150,000-plus members and instantly turning him into one of the most popular characters in Hong Kong TV ever seen in years.

Seizing that particular golden opportunity, TVB quickly merged their first movie deal with Shaw Brothers to come up with a prequel to E.U. that's completely dedicated to the origin of Laughing Gor. The result that LAUGHING GOR: TURNING POINT has, is fairly admirable. It's not a masterpiece by any means but surprisingly above-average crime picture, especially given its relatively low-budget production to shoot on the quick. 

If the premise sounds awfully familiar, that is because director Herman Yau and screenwriters Poon Man-Hung, Wong Yeung-Tat and Yip Tin-Shing ape the same old INFERNAL AFFAIRS cliches. In fact, there are shades of Yau's own ON THE EDGE-vibe as well, and basically, the story here fares nothing new we haven't seen before.

But since this movie is actually dedicated to telling an origin story of Laughing Gor, it's rather surprising that Michael Tse's character is much of an afterthought other than paving the way for actors like Anthony Wong and Francis Ng dominating the screen instead. With so many characters pinned here and there, and given the limited constraint of the budget, the movie loses a lot of primary focus to concentrate more on Laughing Gor. It doesn't help either as Michael Tse spends most of the time looking nothing but nervy and glum without giving an extra spark to make his supposedly legendary character all the more interesting reason to watch for. 

Instead, it was the supporting actors that manage to live up most of the sparks, if not entirely. Anthony Wong and Francis Ng are no strangers to flamboyant roles especially tackling triad role with relative ease. But there's something about Anthony Wong kind of hard to digest -- let's just say his constant silly wardrobe changes like some glam rock star is such a turn-off for a guy who has been aged a lot.

While the overall story is rather mediocre, Herman Yau manages to make amend by filling up the screen with lots of action scenarios. Thanks to Yau's effective and often economical direction, LAUGHING GOR: TURNING POINT does succeed to deliver some worthy exciting moments here -- especially those involving foot and car chases. Fans of Yau's work will be slightly rejoiced with his trademark of violence here, though not as excessive as the one he has previously helmed in the past.

Do stay tuned for the ending, in which there is a winking nod related to E.U. series.

Herman Yau's big screen adaptation of the hugely popular TVB series is familiar but fairly effective INFERNAL AFFAIRS-like star-studded crime drama.

1 comment:

blah said...

Be fair, Michael Tse was hardly given a chance in this sorry excuse of an origin story. We're talking about an actor who'd definitely proven his capability in EU, no reason to think that he couldn't have delivered just as well if the film's script had allowed him to do so. However Turning Point's scriptwriters clearly had no love for Laughing Gor and zero respect for the original creators and the fans -- they completely rewrote his personality and backstory, from a brilliant police academy student and a dedicated cop who never wavered from his duties, to a simple-minded store clerk who started as a triad member in the first place and became another of those same tired old angsty undercovers torn between divided loyalties! Anthony Wong and Francis Ng are obviously the main actors here and not merely supporting actors, with the script clearly focussed on their characters while having Laughing spend the whole movie running from both sides of the law with absolutely nothing allowing him to show any spark to challenge the other two. If EU's version of Laughing had been retained in the movie, the result would have been another story entirely.