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Bheja Fry August 3, 2007

Posted by Sai in Cantonese, Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Ranjeet Thadani (Rajat Kapoor) is the owner of a music company who does not mind laughing at the cost of others. He attends a dinner with his friends where each one brings his “idiot” who amuses them with his antics without really knowing it. He finds Bharat Bhushan (Vinay Pathak), a wannabe singer who works as a tax accountant to be perfect for this dinner. Unfortunately, Ranjeet hurts his back and ends up meeting Bhushan in his house. Due to his insufferable behavior, his wife (Sarika) walks out on him. Now, Bhushan tries to help him out despite Ranjeet’s protests with disastrous and hilarious consequences.

This low-budget film has been a big success at the box office. However, it seems that not many are aware that the film is lifted completely from the French film, Le Dîner de cons (The Dinner Game) and director Sagar Ballary seems to be taking credit for it in interviews as if it were his original work. The writers (Sagar Ballary, Arpita Chatterjee) have added very few scenes (the additional scenes between the husband and wife only confuse the narrative as everything seems fine between them) and the major task has been to change the hobby of the idiot from the exotic matchstick-monument-maker to that of a singer (which actually works well). The good thing though is that they keep the film short (95 minutes) without adding much extraneous material and that is really necessary for this film. Since this is a faithful ripoff, it is hard to identify whether Sagar has talent worth rooting for but he is talking of sequels to this film.

Vinay Pathak is very good and is at the center of most of the hilarious moments in the film. Though he doesn’t come close to matching Jacques Villeret in the original, he doesn’t attempt to ape him and adds his own flavor to the role. Ranvir Shorey comes up with another admirable comic cameo which is very different in terms of expressions, diction and body language to some of his other popular performances. Rajat Kapoor and Milind Soman do fine while the rest of the cast gets limited scope.

Watch the side-splitting original if you don’t mind watching a subtitled film from a foreign language. If that seems bothersome, then watch this ripoff that works quite well too.

Kung Fu Hustle (Kung Fu) (Gong Fu) February 7, 2007

Posted by Sai in Cantonese, English, Mandarin, Movies, Reviews.
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Ever laughed till your stomach hurt? That was exactly what happened to me when I saw this satirical take on the martial arts genre that was co-written (with Xin Huo, Chan Man Keung and Kan-Cheung Tsang) and directed by Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer), who also stars in it (apart from co-producing and scoring part of the music).

The film tells you the story of Sing, who wants to be a gangster and a member of the dreaded Axe Gang. In one attempt to gain some credibility as a gangster, he pretends to be a member of the Axe Gang and tries to intimidate members of a colony called Pig Sty Alley (a poor colony that has been neglected by the gang). Unfortunately for him real members of the Axe Gang show up and in the melee that follows, they realise that the members of the colony have a past and they aren’t going to back away from a fight.

With this basic premise, Chow manages to dream up extremely imaginative and outrageously funny sequences that will have you laughing your guts out. He manages to spoof/reference a whole bunch of stuff including Hollywood movies like The Matrix and Spiderman and even the Road Runner cartoon. Though I probably didn’t get a large number of the references in this film, that still didn’t hamper the laughter. Though Chow parodies the genre, the audience can feel his reverence for the genre. In that sense, the film reminds you of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, which was also born out of his love for the same genre and has a ton of references.

This cartoonish fest features a mélange of kooky characters, each specializing in a preposterous martial arts technique. The funniest character is undoubtedly that of the landlady, played by Qiu Yuen, who stands out in the cast filled with martial arts veterans. The supporting cast does a good job of maintaining the exaggerated comic tone of the film. Yuen Woo-ping’s (The Matrix, Kill Bill) action choreography is another asset.

Despite all this, the movie might still work as a straight action comedy film for those who are used to campy, over the top fare. Others wouldn’t want to miss this exceedingly funny flick.

Shuang long hui (The Twin Dragons) November 8, 2006

Posted by Sai in Cantonese, English, Movies, Reviews.
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The movie also apparently goes by Brother vs. Brother, Double Dragon, Duel of Dragons, Seung lung kooi and When Dragons Collide and was made as a benefit film for the Hong Kong Directors Guild (according to IMDB). This film stars Jackie Chan in a dual role as twins separated at birth. One of them grows up into a musician while the other becomes a rogue. As promising as the premise sounds for a Jackie Chan action comedy, this one sucks!

The film tries to run (quite predictably) on the mistaken identity of these characters. Though it has been done before, with some good action and comedy, this movie would have worked. The movie has some gags that make you laugh a bit but it isn’t as funny as it needs to be. The action scenes are good, as you expect with Chan flicks, but they weren’t enough to satiate me. Except for the comedy in the tub and the climax, most of the movie is forgettable. Uninspired writing (Barry Wong, Hark Tsui, Tung Cho ‘Joe’ Cheung, Yik Wong) and direction (Ringo Lam, Hark Tsui) mar this film. Chan is good but that isn’t enough to save the film. On the whole, this is a disappointing Jackie Chan flick that only fans might want to watch.

The interesting thing though is that E.V.V. Satyanarayana was inspired by this film to make Hello Brother in telugu (starring Nagarjuna) that was later remade in hindi by David Dhawan as Judwaa (starring Salman Khan). Both of the movies worked at the Box Office and were liked by the audience. I quite enjoyed Hello Brother and still remember some of its crazy characters and weird but witty dialogue. It just goes to show that remakes aren’t a bad idea, especially when the original wastes a promising premise.