Hail the Judge
Reviewed by Caroline Chai
Starring Stephen Chow, Ng Man Tat, Cheung Man,
Christy Chung, Ada Choi, Lawrence Ng, Elvis Tsui Kam-kong, Joey Leung,
Ha Ping, Yuen King Tan, Ngai Sing, Gabriel Wong, Lau Shun, Ku Feng, Lui
Iíve never been a big Stephen Chow movie fan
although Iíve enjoyed a few of his movies. So I was a little nervous
about getting the vcd. However, since I quite happily admit to being
an Ada Choi fan, I decided that any movie with Ada in it is worth at least
Chowís Bao Lung Sing is the descendent of the
legendary Chinese magistrate Justice Bao Qing Tian. However, Bao
Lung Sing isn't quite as upright or as smart as his more famous predecessor.
The whole town hates him because he is corrupt. However, he's such
a loser that he can't even make money from being corrupt and he's constantly
being made a fool of by a cunning and unscrupulous lawyer (Lawrence Ng.)
After a series of events Bao Lung Sing is mistaken
as a good official and he decides he likes the way people treat him. Also
by that time heís met Cheung Man whom he finds very attractive. So
when Cheung Man is framed for the murder of the entire Chi family, he decides
to be a good magistrate. However, the real culprit is the son (Ngai
Sing) of a powerful man (Ku Feng) with many powerful connections and our
hero and his trusty sidekick, his nephew (Ng Man Tat,) must go through
much to save her. On the way, he picks up a wife (Christy Chung)
and meets the delightful Ada Choi. Ada is a pleasure to watch as usual.
Unfortunately, she doesnít get much screen time, although what she has
she makes use of effectively and memorably.
Like most Stephen Chow films, itís all very silly
fun and fairly quickly paced. The first half of the movie is enjoyable
although it loses it's way a little when it takes a little detour to the
circus... literally. The film really picks up steam again in the
latter half when Bao Lung Sing ends up working at a brothel after his scheme
to get a free meal is exposed by Ada Choi.
While there he observes how the shrewish mistress
of the brothel (the wonderfully funny Yuen King Tan) defeats her opponents
by out-talking them. Bao Lung Sing is impressed and decides to train
so that he can pick up this skill too. These are actually some of
the funniest scenes in the movie as it takes typical training and fighting
scenes from martial arts films and spoofs them.
All in all, Hail the Judge is quite enjoyable
and while The Chinese Odyssey 1 & 2 still retain their position as
my favourite Stephen Chow films, Hail the Judge isn't far behind.
Distributed by Mei Ah
The transfer is very spotty - at times fairly
decent and at other times blanched out. The night scenes are quite soft
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
The subtitles are burnt on Chinese and English
There is no menu - and so no extras
There is a five minute stretch near the end
in which the sound gets all muffled and the subs disappear.
Another version has been released by Universe
which I imagine is much better.