Papa Loves You


One has to wonder what is going through the mind of Tony Leung Ka-fai – one of the best actors from Hong Kong over the past twenty-years – when he is playing Dad to the Twins – in “The Spy Dad” to Gillian Chung and here to the other one, Charlene Choi. I can imagine a few things that must float around in there such as: “Is this why I went to acting school?”, “Will I have to return my Best Actor Award?”, “It pays the bills”, “How come the other Tony works with Wong Kar-wai and I work with the Twins?”, “Even De Niro was in a film called Meet the Fockers”  - though chances are he is thinking the same as many of us “I wonder if they would be willing to have a threesome with me”.  At least I was thinking these things as I watched poor Tony frantically trying to keep this film going like a mouse getting electric shocks every time it paused. I don’t know about Tony, but I sure felt embarrassed for him.
Tony plays a prissy piano teaching dad to Charlene – who isn’t perhaps “addicted” to her as the DVD states, but he certainly is overly protective since his wife died many years back. He constantly worries about her  - having nightmares that she has been run over, become a hooker or been in a triad machete gang bang – typical dad stuff. Almost daily he gets calls from the school principal (Paul Chun Pui) to come down to the school because his daughter is in trouble – beating up someone or coercing a heavy girl to commit suicide – and he madly runs down – his palms stretched outwards as if he is drying his nail polish or auditioning for a local production of “The Birdcage”. He begins to follow her around and spots her shoplifting one day and he intervenes to save her – all this is more than annoying to his daughter not to mention to the audience – but then this all changes.
While in a restaurant Tony accidentally saves the life of Father Hung (Eric Tsang) who is a top triad big shot and this is witnessed by four male classmates of Charlene (Marco Lok, Steven Cheung, Kenny Kwan and Johnny Lu) who jump to the conclusion that Tony is actually Misty Hawkins. Hawkins was the bodyguard to Hung eighteen years ago, but disappeared after killing 108 men single-handedly – and is famous for his incredibly speedy Shadowless Hands. This rumor comes in handy as Charlene finds herself in trouble with a few underworld figures – one played by Charles Heung (who also produced this film) and Blackie Ko (in one of his last roles) – and they tremble in the presence of the legendary killer. Of course, the family of the 108 dead men haven’t forgotten Hawkins either and come looking for revenge.
Most of this film is simply annoying – other parts are just aggravating – none of it is worth a moment of anyone’s time unless they have to see Charlene in everything – in other words they are addicted to her! She actually tones down her typical over the top cuteness but I am not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. The final ten minutes of the film decides to get overly melodramatic and soppy – almost painfully so – you want to shout – please stop Tony – lets start a collection to pay his bills so that he doesn't have to take work like this. Even worse, perhaps exemplifying the artistically downward spiral of Hong Kong film is the fact that the director of this tedious fluff is none other than Herman Yau. Yes, Herman Yau – the director of “The Untold Story” and “From the Queen to the Chief Executive”. Between this film and his earlier 2004 effort “Dating Death” which stars some of the Cookies one has to wonder if he is in hock to the triad or going through a second adolescence.

My rating for this film: 4.0