Crazy N the City (a.k.a.
Crazy and the City)
Reviewed by Lee Alon
We shuddered at the ridiculous title and cringed
with horror upon first seeing the generic cover shot gracing this underdog
of a winner release. Not another bubble-headed police caper, we hoped with
uninitiated innocence. After all, love Hong Kong we may, but as true believers
in the city's movie making potential we have also suffered over the last
few decades from more than our fair share of dumb storylines and semi-moronic
affronts to perfectly usable celluloid, often endorsed or inspired by HK's
ubiquitous police force.
But with James Yuen's unexpected angle on the
brave boys and girls in olive theme, we have formally received a superb
opening shot for 2005, as the movie brings to the fore a unique treatment
of a subject matter flogged so badly in the past, it has practically become
dead horse pulp. Besides, you better start your praying and counting your
Hail Mary's, coz if the guy responsible for the cataclysmically retarded
“My Wife is Eighteen” can be behind such a marvelous flick, judgment day
can't be too far behind.
Likewise, one of Asia's biggest teen throbs in
recent years, Eason Chan, manages to do the unthinkable and actually act
like his life depended on it, once again deviating from his usual hip-hop
comic routine, and is even more impressive than in 2002's similarly unexpected
“If U Care”. Chan seems stronger than ever in Crazy, conducting himself
with sheer professionalism as he depicts beat cop Jack Chan, an experienced
malcontent serving in HK's uniformed cadres with almost no passion for
the job. After seven years on Wan Chai's rather boring streets, Chan has
yet to even come close to using his weapon in the line of duty. When his
longtime partner leaves, Chan lands a new colleague, Man Liu, played by
Joey Yung, who remains just as formulaic in this outing as she was in vapid
entries like Feel 100% 2 and My Schoolmate the Barbarian.
Chan soon grows frustrated with the idealist newbie,
as she goes around trying to rescue stray cats and help senior citizens
push overburdened carts uphill. Of course, Chan's jaded nature allows him
to refrain from getting overly invested in neighborhood goings on, even
when a poverty-stricken local beatnik (Lam Suet) throws himself off a building
to gruesome results.
The story's third main protagonist, Cheng Wang
(Francis Ng), a complete loon residing in Chan and Liu's designated area,
enters the fray in a parallel plot. His life went to the cleaners and never
came back following a series of personal traumas, with the guy left in
ruins as a consequence, constantly mumbling to himself, talking on a long-defunct
cell phone and holding on to memories of owning a bra and lingerie boutique.
Ng does a good job showcasing Cheng's troubled personality, and at times
we felt tears welling up as the tragic basket case interacted
with his ever-loyal sister and newly found
love interest Fei Fei (Zhang Yao), a gorgeous young lady masseuse emblazoned
with some of the most perfect hair seen on screen lately. However, Ng's
performance felt too much like a remake of his appearance in late last
year's White Dragon, where he delivered an impressive impression of eccentric,
sight-impaired martial arts legend Chicken Feathers.
We therefore concluded that, while all involved
did at least a plausible job, Crazy belongs almost entirely to Yuen's competent
direction, Eason Chan's wholesome contribution and to a genuinely effective
story. It all comes together when Jack Chan begins to see the point in
being a cop after a group of high school girls practically fall in love
with him and his allure as a law enforcement officer, and ask him to help
them in picking up Judo classes at school. This injected some acceptable
humor into the film, but was soon usurped by tension. Wan Chai finds itself
at the hands of a murderous sex offender,
which of course immediately touches on everyone's lives, including Jack's
protégés and Cheng's attractive upstairs neighbor, Fei Fei.
Galvanized into action, Jack and Cheng both find their respective bearings,
coming out stronger. Man Liu, in keeping with Joey Yung's somewhat neutral
input into this project, experiences little evolution, save for getting
all worked up over a hunky traffic cop (special appearance by Alex Fong).
Via aids like clever editing, nifty camera use
and driving music, Crazy N the City comes up roses, fortified further with
cameos courtesy of Sam Lee (Made in Hong Kong) and Hui Siu Hong (Love Undercover
among dozens more).
A total surprise from way out in leftfield,
this picture proved that even the most seemingly mainstream film could
defy classification and gives credence to the old adage about not judging
books by their cover. An excellently touching as well as gripping package
you'd be utterly mental to miss out on.
Directed by James Yuen
Starring Eason Chan, Joey Yung, Francis Ng
2005, Cantonese, 100 minutes
Contact Lee Alon here