Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Fortune Buddies (勁抽福祿壽)

Real BFF Do This Together

Fortune Buddies star the trio of Louis Yuen, Wong Cho Lam and Johnson Lee as down and out friends Fook, Luk and Sau respectively, in a comedy that contain the usual self-deprecating jokes played on the main cast as well as the cameos (Michael Tse of Laughing Gor bearing the brunt of most slapstick), but surprisingly is stinging and barbed in its veiled criticism about Hong Kong society, that I think hey, something similar could also be made here that is equally critical of our own. After all, it'll be something to laugh at ourselves, especially when we step back and realize that our ugly behaviour can make for some good comedy.

What I had enjoyed about Fortune Buddies isn't its rather absurd storyline, but the various disparate scenes crafted and then glued together to form a narrative of sorts that reflects some quirky societal ills, issues and the state of affairs, played for laughs naturally since this is a comedy after all. For instance, there's the crazy spiralling property prices that Hong Kongers have to deal with, and an apartment is something Luk has to provide for his girlfriend (Fiona Sit) as a condition laid out by her dad (Eric Tsang) before he can marry her, but this spells a tall (pardon the pun) for Luk as he can't hold down a regular job given the relative high unemployment rate.

Even more no holds barred statements got made more than once about how societal has degraded and people falling into idiocy, that mirrors ironically how badly crafted films can find box office success easily as compared to more serious fare. But I digress, though it was tempting to reflect upon how this was somewhat a self fulfilling prophecy especially when film financing doesn't come easy these days, and films as these still continue to get funding to be made.

The film heavily relies on the leading trio to bring about the laughs as they lampoon various situations and dress up, in drag even, to elicit a chuckle from the audience. Each character they play come with baggage and an objective to achieve before the film ends, such as Fook needing to gain some self-respect from his estranged gangster chief wife, Sau trying to tackle his dream girl (Samantha Ko), and Luk needing plenty of cash to finally get parental consent for his girl to marry him. These monetary and self-respecting requirements all get worked into an Ip Man 2 parallel spoof, where the trio encounters kung fu masters, and getting into the fighting ring with some Caucasian wrestlers.

As always, a number of jokes seemed to have lost their flavour and punchlines given the unnatural translation from Cantonese to Mandarin, which is a pity because it made the entire film look quite dull. Take for instance Johnson Lee's mimicry of the four heavenly kings, where in the Cantonese trailer you'd appreciate the very accurate attempts both in mannerisms and voice quality, but in the Chinese dubbed film, made it look extremely artificial. I'd say it's about time Hong Kong films are given back some respect in being allowed to screen in their original language track here.

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