Leave Me Alone

Reviewed by Lee Alon

Perhaps drawing on their own life experiences as identical twins and seasoned pranksters, the Pang Brothers proceed to convey these sentiments through the venerable medium of cinema, at which they quite often excel. Readers probably recall the astonishingly well-made The Eye, starring Angelica Lee, and with Leave Me Alone the siblings return yet again to Thailand, apparently a land of great mystique and allure to the aforementioned filmmakers who had moved there to direct their first films in the late 1990’s.

For this outing they selected one of yours truly's favorite actors, Ekin Cheng. Unarguably HK's premier on-screen entertainment powerhouse, Ekin here does double duty as twins Man and Kit.  As you ponder Cheng's colossal stamina (he's been in like a million movies over the last two-three years), you also can't help but begin to question his judgment in choosing roles. Or, more like it, lack of prejudice, for the man clearly does whatever his bank managers suggest. Leave Me Alone, despite its potentially intriguing twin element, stands as one of the briefest, worst movies the celebrated city of Hong Kong has churned out recently. The movie's noxious runtime can only be matched by its exceedingly basic story and pathetically staged action segments, but we'll get to these in a bit.

Suffice to say Ekin's lost considerable merit points for taking this on and for teaming one time too many with the undisputed Queen of Annoyance, Charlene Choi, who here (ironically enough) appears without her "twin", Gillian Chung (who's sorely missed). Although not as irritating as in previous debacles “Summer Breeze of Love” or “My Wife is 18”, Choi nonetheless still has a long way to go before being able to appear on film without inducing bouts of agitation among audiences. Ekin, although technically competent in delivering his twins routine, again comes across as feebly apathetic and strictly in it for the moola. One could argue Leave Me Alone thus ends up as a wasted opportunity, squandered by uncaring or inept thespians, but, alas, that's miles from being the case, for right off the bat the project offers its cast members neither challenge nor incentive to bother with.

Now back to the so-called plot. Twins Kit and Man, separated for some time, at long last reunite in Hong Kong, as the former arrives to pay his brother a visit. While physically alike, naturally their personalities diverge. Kit's a wild child, all about fast cars, women and being an undercover cop for narcotics in Thailand. Conversely, Man has yuppified himself beyond description, encumbered by a mortgage and car loans. When Kit asks for a spin in Man's roadster, the twins return to playing identity switch, with the urbanite gladly handing over the keys. Of course, something has to go wrong, and Kit promptly gets his sorry behind into a car wreck that leaves him in a coma. Therefore, Man has to assume his brother's persona once again, taking on narc duties and heading out to Thailand.

There, he joins forces reluctantly (can you blame him) with Kit's partner-girlfriend (Choi), battling drug cartel buffoons hindered by a penchant for hurting themselves (headed by Dayo Wong), while evading the girlfriend's suspiciously comical dad (usually good Kenny Bee, but here, again, too brief). Via several obvious conflict resolutions and some of the most ludicrously incapable firefights spotted on the silver screen since who knows when, Leave Me Alone reaches yet another yawnsome conclusion and releases its victimized viewers, letting them wash it down with a good few sobering DVD's. At least it ain't even feature-length, clocking in at a meager 80 minutes. Ekin addicts may find some value in holding on to this movie just for bragging rights, albeit even they may feel queasy at seeing him portray dudes supposedly in their late twenties. Give us a break!

Beyond that, we have on hand absolutely no suspense, no female hotties (and what's an action flick without beautiful ladies?), lukewarm characters you can't help but forget, and pervasively ho-hum acting. Tragically enough, the best thing one can say about this latest Pang Bros product sums it up quite aptly: Charlene Choi seems marginally less infuriating than beforehand. Bottom line, this one's definitely best left alone.

Rating: 3/10

Directed by Danny Pang
Starring Ekin Cheng, Charlene Choi, Dayo Wong, Kenny Bee
2004, Cantonese/Putonghua, 80 minutes

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