Review: MRS K (2017) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Review: MRS K (2017)

Kara Wai and Faizal Hussein engage in a fight in the middle of the traffic in MRS K (2017)

Mrs  K (Kara Wai) is a suburban housewife who lives a quiet life with her obstetrician husband (Wu Bai) and their teenage daughter (Siow Li Xuan). When her daughter is kidnapped by her former associates led by Simon Yam, she is forced to drag back into her criminal past and save her loved one at all cost.

REVIEW: Kara Wai's career resurgence from a former Shaw Brothers martial arts star in the 1970s and 80s to an acclaimed dramatic actress owed a lot to director Ho Yuhang. It was Yuhang who helped Wai revived her career when they worked together in 2009's award-winning drama, AT THE END OF DAYBREAK. Eight years later since their last collaboration, Wai and Yuhang reunite with a genre piece that pays tribute to the Hong Kong action movie of the yesteryear as well as the Sergio Leone-like spaghetti western theme.

Kara Wai plays the title role in MRS K (2017)

But those who are expecting an action-packed movie should look away since MRS K is pretty much a low-key drama. The action in question is more like an afterthought, as the fight scenes are kept to a minimum level. Still, even a minimal action set-piece can leave a lasting impression if the scene is well-choreographed and memorable enough to keep the genre fans happy. Although the set-pieces involving Wai's first encounter with Faizal Hussein in the middle of the traffic on a broad daylight and another one set in a food stall during the night did draw some potential, the execution is mostly hampered by quick cuts and tight close-ups. Sure, the fight scenes are both gritty and violent, while the fiftysomething Wai still impresses with her martial arts move in some ways. Unfortunately, the cinematic impact that Yuhang tries to achieve here is shortlived and doesn't exactly live up to its expectation. As an action movie, MRS K feels like a missed opportunity.

Fruit Chan, Kirk Wong and Dain Iskandar Said all appear in memorable cameo performances in MRS K (2017)

Whereas the action scenes in MRS K are largely unsatisfying, Yuhang excels better in terms of developing characters as well as the storyline, particularly in the earlier scenes. The movie opens promisingly with a violent montage of three men (Hong Kong directors Kirk Wong and Fruit Chan alongside our very own acclaimed filmmaker Dain Iskandar Said, all delivered excellent cameo appearances) each met their respective dooms on separate occasions. Shortly after, Yuhang manages to make a seamless tonal shift from the grisly opening scene to a lightweight moment that introduces the titular Mrs K as a housewife, who is first seen baking a tray of curry buns in her kitchen. Then comes the hilarious home invasion scene when a pair of wannabe thieves disguised as deliverymen trying to rob her. The introduction of Mrs K is no doubt one of the notable highlights in the movie. This is, of course, largely attributed to Kara Wai's appealing turn as the title role.

Simon Yam and Kara Wai in a scene from MRS K (2017)

Speaking of Wai, she is clearly the heart of the movie. Forget about the fact this is her last action movie. It was her performance that matters the most. She can comfortably shift from a seemingly ordinary housewife to a tough individual with a violent past. When the movie's tone switches gear again, it becomes a harrowing drama that perfectly reflects Wai's increasingly depressed and grim character.

Wu Bai and Siow Li Xuan in MRS K (2017)

Apart from Wai, Yuhang extends his well-written characters to Simon Yam, who gives a strong support as the movie's vengeful and stoic antagonist. Newcomer Siow Li Xuan, who plays Mrs K's teenage daughter, is equally praiseworthy and so does Tony Liu as the sleazy private eye. Although renowned local actor Faizal Hussein plays a minor role in this movie, he does a commendable job playing a near-silent performance as Simon Yam's scar-faced right-hand man. However, Taiwanese rock star Wu Bai fares less convincing as an obstetrician, even though he is fine as a loving family man to both Wai's character and their daughter.

Tony Liu and Kara Wai in a scene from MRS K (2017)

The 80s electronic score alongside some of the spaghetti western-like themes can be heard throughout the movie, thanks to Fugu's mesmerising musical composition. Despite the disappointing action scenes and some wobbly storyline in the second half, MRS K remains a worthy addition to both Yuhang and Wai's filmography.

Kara Wai's engaging performance alongside Ho Yuhang's deft skill in shifting tone and style helps elevate MRS K in this otherwise inconsistent action drama.

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