Vancouver Film Festival
Directed by Jeffrey Lau
A hilarious slapstick spoof of Crouching Tiger
by Jeffrey Lau
Starring Tony Leung, Chiu Wai, Faye Wong, Vicki Zhao, Chen Chang,
Eric Kot, Roy Cheung, Jing Ning and Rebecca Pan
Produced by Wong Kai Wai
Hong Kong -2002
Chinese Odyssey is a welcome surprise and well received
film shown in a new cut by the directorJeffrey Lau who was present
at the screening. He must have been happy to hear the laughter and
its well deserved. Conceived as a send up to Journey
to the West it is much more.
Wong Kai Wai is the producer of this film and this film should not
be confused with two other Chinese Odyssey films, although the story
is similar. This version is a spoof of the Crouching Tiger genre
and with some affectionate side swipes at Chunking Express on the
way. If you have seen Chunking then youll know it starts Tony
Leung and Chiu Wai Chiu Wai is a waitress who is obsessed by Tony
Leung a cop, who in turn doesnt notice her until too late.
This film stars Tony Leung and Faye Wong as brother and sister King
Bully and Phoenix, who will fall for the royal prince and princess played
by Chiu Wai and Chen Chang who escape the Imperial Palace to go south
and experience life. As is the tradition of these films the girl travel
as a boy and the prince seems well just so slightly gay. Chiu Wai as the
princess is enigmatic and curiously entrancing, an absolutely modern woman
enjoying this clever situation and her relationship with Tony Leung. She
is wonderfully aloof, bewilderingly enigmatic and asexual, her eyes reveal
so much and are worth watching in every scene. The pleasure of the film
is in the sight gags, the word play, the sex role reversals and the exuberant
fun that the actors have in subverting their roles in previous movies.
All the main actors are immensely watchable, have excellent timing and
good comic skills.
Tony Leung a leading man in Wong Kai Wai films such as the elegant and
poetic In the Mood for Love clearly enjoys having fun here
and mocking his other roles. Faye Wong, easily one of the most beautiful
women in film must fall for the princess as a boy, as does her brother.
The Royal Prince
well no need to spoil things here. No matter the
confusion and the sacred legends this film is made to get a laugh and
Jeffrey Lau told the Vancouver audience that there is, as yet, no distribution
deal for this film. Handled as well as Crouching Tiger was, anyone who
saw that would doubly enjoy this and I hope it finds a way out to the
There are folks and critics who quibble over Chinese comedy. Some say
it is too slapstick and lacks subtly but I beg to differ, the comedy here
is quite stylised and refined and any film that makes us laugh so hard
in these times can't be bad.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film and the references to other films that have
escaped out to the West and I hope, so will you.
© Sam North October 2002
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