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No Problem 2
Year: 2002
The strange cast of No Problem 2.
Director: Chin Kar-Lok
Producer: Sam Leung Tak-Sum
Cast: Takashi Okamura, Wakana Sakai, Yuen Biao, Candy Lo Hau-Yam, Sam Lee Chan-Sam, Won Jin, Lai Yiu-Cheung, Collin Chow Siu-Lung (Ngai Sing), Shun Sugata, Law Kar-Ying, Tats Lau Yi-Tat, Johnny Tang Siu-Cheun, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Jerry Lamb Hoi-Fung, Chin Kar-Lok, Lee San-San, Taguchi Hiromasa
The Skinny: Despite being a completely disposable experience, this Japanese-made valentine to Hong Kong Cinema is actually a strangely fun time. It's nice to see Yuen Biao again, and the various HK Cinema parodies are good fun. No one will ever confuse this with a good film, but longtime HK Cinema fans might experience some welcome nostalgia.
Review:      Because nobody in Hong Kong will make a Hong Kong film, it falls upon foreign stars and their heavy pocketbooks to bring the goods. No Problem 2 is the sequel to (duh) No Problem 1, which was a comedy vehicle for Japanese comedian Takashi Okamura. This new film brings back Okamura as Kensuke Kimura, a screwy waiter who loves HK movies and visits Hong Kong to check out his beloved cinematic mecca. Then, in true action-comedy style, he gets embroiled in a crime-syndicate kidnapping of a beautiful heiress named Yumiko (Wakana Sakai). This is undoubtedly a common occurence for most HK Cinema fans when they visit Hong Kong.
     Kensuke (or Ken for short) gets embroiled in this mess thusly: he accidentally happens across a hired killer named Invincible, who's scheduled to take care of Yumiko at a jewelery show. Invincible was hired by evil bastards Ngai Sing (AKA: Collin Chow) and Lai Yiu-Cheung at the behest of their boss Kazuo Ota (Sugata Shun), who also happens to be Yumiko's uncle. Thanks to a mistaken identity plot device, Ken is mistaken for Invincible and is sent in his place. Instead of killing Yumiko, he accidentally saves her, and is assigned (along with cop Sam Lee) to safeguard Yumiko while she's in Hong Kong.
     However, Ken is more of an idiot savant than a bodyguard, and as such is a bad choice for a protector. Before you know it Yumiko has been taken by the bad guys, and Ken is framed for crime. Thankfully, there's Lam Gao (Yuen Biao) and his sister Lam Doi (Candy Lo), two wacky martial artists who've been charged with finding and subduing Invincible. They attempt to use Ken as bait to lure out Invincible, but Ken just wants Yumiko back.
     Meanwhile, Lam Doi gets the hots for Ken, which may seem unbelievable to most HK Cinema fans since comedian Okamura resembles a lower primate. Lam Doi isn't such a prize herself since she has really bad teeth. Portrayed by Candy Lo with prosthetic choppers, Lam Doi is your standard "ugly girl in love" cliché. Thankfully, Lo makes her both sympathetic and even winning, which adds some weight to her otherwise uninteresting problem of being an ugly girl in love with a guy who's in love with someone else. Lo doesn't do much kung-fu (her stunt doubles take care of that), but she's an engaging presence, and she makes the part work.
     Takashi Okamura's work is probably foreign to most HK Cinema fans (this reviewer included), but he's an amusing enough comedian. Sam Lee and a large contingent of HK Cinema actors turn in standard support, with Collin Chow (AKA: Ngai Sing) turning in a remarkably effective performance as the evil bad guy du jour. Lead actress Wakana Sakai is equally remarkable - except her performance is remarkably bad. Not that it really matters, as this film was not intended to be an acting showcase of any sort. It's just your typical action-comedy filled with overacting and mugging for an indiscriminate camera and/or audience.
      So who cares about the acting? Let's get right to the point: how's the action, and how's Yuen Biao, dammit? The third "brother" of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung never reached the post-eighties heights of the other two, but he's still a fun, engaging performer who deserved far better than the Philippines-produced dreck he was relegated to during the nineties. Here he turns in an agile, funny performance as Lam Gao, who's been chasing Invincible for years simply because his master asked him to. Yuen has always possessed a fine comic charm, and he uses it to good effect here. And despite being older, he handles his fight sequences well.
     The fighting itself isn't truly awe-inspiring, but it isn't meant to be (this is a comedy, after all). HK Cinema fans will probably be mildly satisfied by the fisticuffs, but they should be delighted with the numerous movie parodies. Asides to The Killer, Police Story, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Storm Riders and even The Karate Kid (among others) litter the film, and the multitude of HK actor cameos helps, too. Actor/director Chin Kar-Lok (of the egregious '97 Aces Go Places) doesn't create anything truly amazing or interesting here, but he does reference enough old-time HK Cinema charm to make this a pleasant enough time killer. Get this straight: this is not a good movie. However, given the chance it can be an occasionally entertaining bit of nostalgia. (Kozo 2002)
Notes: • This is not a Hong Kong film. It's a Japanese film. Despite taking place in Hong Kong and featuring a largely Hong Kong cast and crew (including producer Sam Leung of The Stewardess), it's obvious that Japanese wallets bankrolled this picture. Besides, the Japanese are practically the only people left on this planet who generally appreciate the wit and wisdom of Yuen Biao.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Universe Laser
Cantonese/Japananese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen