Year of release: 2007
Directors: Francis Ng, Marco Mak
Action director: Ma Yuk-Sing
Producer: Ng Kin-Hung
Writers: Lam Chiu-Wing, Lau Ka-Ming
Cinematography: Herman Yau, Dick Tung
Editor: Azrael Chung
Music: Marco Wan
Stars: Anthony Wong, Francis Ng, Teresa Mo, Lam Tze-Chung, Lin Yuan, Hins Cheung, Lam Suet, Ronald Cheng, Crystal Tin, Sammy Leung, Chin Kar-Lok
Rated IIA for mild language
DVD available for purchase at www.sensasian.com
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Francis Ng has always been known for being one of most outspoken actors working in Hong Kong; he's never been one to censor himself in interviews, especially when hit comes to the local movie industry. So it should come as no surprise that his third directorial effort, Dancing Lion, (which he helms along with Marco Mak) is a biting take on the notion of celebrity in Hong Kong. The end result is certainly entertaining -- that is, if the viewer is well-versed in the world of HK movies and pop culture.
The film tells the story of two office workers (Ng and Lam Tze-Chung) who are forced to pariticpate in a talent show to save their jobs. Their lion dancing fails to keep their employment, but they become famous after a video of them dancing is posted on the internet. After getting training from their uncle (Anthony Wong) in dancing and their aunt (Teresa Mo) in business, the duo spin their fifteen minutes of fame into a lion dancing empire.
Like I said before, how much enjoyment you get out of Dancing Lion is equal to how well-versed you are about Hong Kong. Sure, there's the requisite toliet humor and physical comedy, but most of the jokes featured here have several layers.
It doesn't help matters for the non-Cantonese speakers that the DVD and VCD have terrible subtitles. Most viewers will be able to follow the story and get most of the jokes, but there's a huge level beneath the surface that a lot of westerners will probably miss.
And that's a shame, because Dancing Lion is one of the best comedies to come out of Hong Kong in some time. What really sets it apart is that it trusts the viewer actually has a positive IQ, and doesn't insult them by dumbing down everything. The last scene in particular really brings this home. Breaking the fourth wall, the main actors talk about making NGs (no goods, aka out-takes).
It's a very funny run of banter -- the actors are having a ball here and seem confident taking the gloves off -- and then there is a huge payoff when a joke is leveled against one of Hong Kong's most popular actresses. I won't spoil the gag for you, but in the few seconds it takes to say her name, the whole intent of Dancing Lion becomes clear, and it becomes much more than just another dopey Hong Kong comedy and something well worth your time.