Three of a Kind
Year of release: 2011
Director: Joe Ma
Action director: Ailen Sit
Producers: Joe Ma, Ivy Kong, Cao Biao
Writers: Joe Ma, Matt Chow, Sunny Chan, Lung Man-Hong, Lee Chun-Fai
Cinematography: Ko Chiu-Lam
Editing: Angie Lam
Music: Lincoln Lo
Stars: Michael Hui, Miriam Yeung, Lau Ching-Wan, Elaine Kam, Hui Siu-Hung, Lo Meng
Rated IIA for language and mild violence
Movie Review Index
After an absence for several years from Hong Kong movie screens, Michael Hui, one of the legends of Cantonese cinematic comedy, made his return with 2004's Three of a Kind. Also starring Miriam Yeung and Lau Ching-Wan, this film doesn't stray too far from the usual Hong Kong comedy playbook, so it's not going to win any points for originality. However, it does provide enough genuinely funny enough moments during its' running time to make this release warrant at least a mild recommendation.
In the movie, Hui plays Dragon Lone, a wuxia novelist who has been going through a long spell of writer's block. One night, his daughter, Sophia's (Miriam Yeung), playboy boss Frankie (Lau Ching-Wan) comes to their home looking for a place to stay. At first, the overly protective Dragon doesn't trust Frankie around his daughter, but once Frankie shows Dragon how to let loose and party, which helps alleviate the writer's block, he changes his tune -- at least until Frankie announces his intention to marry Sophia.
Michael Hui, along with his brothers Ricky and Sam, are known as the godfathers of what would become known as moy len tau, or "nonsense comedy". This style, which is heavy on Cantonese wordplay and pop culture references, reinvigorated the local industry in the 1970's, and would become the face of Hong Kong comedy worldwide during the 1990's due to the output of Stephen Chow, whose antics led him to become one of Asia's biggest stars. So, by this portion of his career, Hui could really just go on autopilot and do these sorts of roles in his sleep, which one gets the feeling he is doing here.
This is not a knock on Hui -- no one should realistically expect a sixty-two year old to give the same level of manic energy he displayed in roles some thirty years prior. However, the laughs here come in spurts, rather than the steady stream which characterized Hui's classic films such as The Private Eyes. Also, and this is probably more of a personal slant, but I have never really gotten the appeal of Miriam Yeung, as she often (at least to these admittedly grizzled and jaded eyes) comes off as loud and grating. Though, thankfully, director Joe Ma seemed to be able to restrain her performance in a bit, a fact which benefits this movie greatly.