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Ah Fai the Dumb
Year: 1997
Eric Kot is the mentally-challenged Ah Fai
Director: Derek Chiu Sung-Kei
Writer: Raymond To Kwok-Wai
Cast: Eric Kot Man-Fai, Andy Hui Chi-On, Athena Chu Yan, Ada Choi Siu-Fun, Law Kar-Ying, Law Koon-Lan, Almen Wong Pui-Ha, Joe Junior
The Skinny: Interesting drama cum existential satire crumbles beneath the weight of Raymond To's heavy-handed script and Derek Chiu's sledgehammer direction.
by Kozo:
     This well-meaning drama from director Derek Chiu (The Log, Final Justice) is the dark side of Lee Chi-Ngaiís Heaven Canít Wait. Once again a slow-witted idiot is exploited, but instead of cynicism and satire, we get an earnest exploration of manís need to be loved. Fai (Eric Kot) is an idiot since birth whose doting mother (Law Koon-Lan) abandons him when a rich gentleman from Hawaii wants to marry her.
     Ericís left with Law Kar-Ying and his son Andy Hui, whoís been a friend since childhood. Also helping out is another childhood friend, Athena Chu. Things arenít totally rosy, as everyone has their problems: Athena loves Andy, but he thinks sheís a go-nowhere who wonít improve herself. Andy is in love with dancer Ada Choi, and longs to disappear from his chosen job as a Taoist priest who performs for funerals.
     Things go overboard when Fai takes a header off the roof while Andy and Athena are arguing. However, instead of dying he ceases to be an idiot and gains powers of clairvoyance allowing him to become a prophet.
     All is not well, though, because his change doesnít necessarily mean the best for everyone. In gaining himself, he finds that he loses the people around him. This seems to be a central message of the film: that looking out for yourself may lead you away from whatís truly important, like the people who love and care for you. We get the message, but the ham-handedness in which director Chiu and writer Raymond To Kwok-Wai get it across is tiring. Eric Kot can be an interesting performer, but asking him to layer his performances would be like asking Gandhi to
eat once in a while. The supporting performers are fine, but without any sort of spark from either director or actors, the whole production just hangs limply. This can be an affecting film, but it's arguably a successful one. (Kozo 1997)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
English and Chinese Subtitles
image courtesy of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen