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Golden Chicken 2
   |     review    |     awards     |     availability     |   
"Don't worry, they won't dare make another sequel."

Jacky Cheung and Sandra Ng co-star in Golden Chicken 2.
Chinese: 金雞 2  
Year: 2003
Director: Samson Chiu Leung-Chun
Producer: Peter Chan Ho-Sun, Jojo Hui
Writer: James Yuen Sai-Sang, Aubrey Lam Oi-Wah, Mark Cheung Yiu-Fai
Cast: Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Leon Lai Ming, Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Chapman To Man-Chat, Crystal Tin Yui-Lei, Angelica Lee Sum-Kit, Dicky Cheung Wai-Kin, Lawrence Cheng Tan-Shui, Felix Wong Yat-Wah, Andy Lau Tak-Wah, Fire Lee, Kenneth Ng, Wancy Dai
The Skinny: Entertaining and even touching performances from Sandra Ng and Jacky Cheung lift Golden Chicken 2, as does the distilled view of the 2003 SARS epidemic. While questionably significant and a bit uneven, GC2 earns points as a winning valentine to Hong Kong which proves entertaining and even affecting.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Back in Christmas 2002, Sandra Ng scored at the box-office—and with critics—with Golden Chicken, a well-produced comedy-drama from producer Peter Chan and director Samson Chiu. Ng played Kum, a happy prostitute (or "chicken" in Cantonese slang) whose career mirrored and complemented the successes and setbacks of recent Hong Kong history. Golden Chicken tackled the recent difficulties of the territory, and wished for hope and promise in Hong Kong's future. But that was at the end of 2002, and since 2003 brought about one of Hong Kong's most difficult trials yet—Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)—Golden Chicken's happy messages would seem to have been plucked. Not to worry, but the same filmmakers returned in Christmas 2003 with Golden Chicken 2, a film that tackles SARS along with whatever hell and happiness 2003 had to offer. The initiative of the filmmakers is to be commended; if 2004 stinks, maybe there'll be a Golden Chicken 3.

Golden Chicken 2 picks up in the year 2046. No, you did not read that incorrectly. Now advanced in age, Kum still looks remarkably good thanks to the quantum leaps in plastic surgery technology. With the anniversary of Hong Kong's 50th year under Mainland rule hanging over the territory's head, Kum takes the time to reflect and impart her generous wisdom upon a young fellow (Chapman To, appearing in his 12th film of 2003, and as a completely different character than the one he played in GC1) who's despondent over heartbreak. He wants to swallow some memory-forgetting pills to ease his personal pains, but Kum tells him that bad memories are necessary, if only to make to make the good times better.

To illustrate her point, Kum recalls Hong Kong's worst year: 2003, which is appropriate since the film could never hope to predict the woes of 2004, 2005 or any other year in the far-flung future. Kum receives a New Year fortune saying that she will be married that year, and to facilitate the fortune she tries to divest herself from her sordid occupation. That doesn't happen right away, but Kum does inherit a small diner from Chow (Anthony Wong), a customer who perishes in the throes of passion. Then SARS rears its ugly head. Business drops through the floor, but in the meantime there are big name guest stars to attend to. Aside from Anthony Wong, Ronald Cheng shows up as a mentally-deranged john who attaches himself a little too closely to Kum's life and her body hair. There's also a hunky doctor (Leon Lai), who's battling SARS and his own fatigue. Dicky Cheung appears as a wacky doctor who makes inappropriate housecalls, and Angelica Lee brings touching gravity in a small cameo. Meanwhile Kum puts a tough, chipper face on everything and resolves to carry on.

What does all this mean? Hard to say. Like the first film, Golden Chicken 2 puts Kum's cheerful, hard-working attitude to the test by throwing her into tough times and tougher circumstances. SARS is certainly among the toughest times, and a lot of good humor and heartbreak is wrung from the situations that occur. Some over-the-top raunch, witty observations on the day-to-day reality of SARS, and some touching moments all occur during the film's first hour. Some of the sequences are hard to pin down; Ronald Cheng's situation, while amusing and even ultimately poignant, is questionably fitting next to the SARS satire and melodrama, and Kum really doesn't do much more than witness and comment. Like the first film, the fun is in the details and performances, and the ever-present panorama of Hong Kong history. Those who were there for 2003's tragedies—or those that just paid attention—might find some insight and appropriate pathos amidst the randy humor.

However, the second half of the film takes a dramatic turn. Instead of delving deeper into 2003's woes (the July 1st demonstrations get only cursory coverage, and the shocking death of Leslie Cheung goes unmentioned), Golden Chicken 2 goes directly into a decades-spanning romance between Kum and her cousin Quincy (Jacky Cheung). The two first met when Kum was still working in schoolgirl cosplay clubs. Quincy came over from the Mainland to earn a fortune, which is about all he tries to do. From minute one, the guy is clearly a gold-digging capitalist who would sell his family to earn a buck. He and Kum share an obvious connection, and time and circumstances draw them apart and then back together, but Quincy's obvious selfishness eventually alienates Kum. It's only during the latter half of 2003, when Quincy returns after a ten-year absence, that his purpose is revealed: he wants to marry Kum. Why? Well, that would probably be telling.

The second half of Golden Chicken 2 is both the film's downfall and subtle triumph. On a storytelling level, the shift from Hong Kong's woes to Kum's soap opera story is a bothersome one. After the first film and most of the second film spent time telling history and her (i.e., Kum's) story, this concentration on Kum's lovelife is remarkably bland and even hackneyed. The Golden Chicken series seems to be about one woman's life reflecting Hong Kong's ups and downs. Going into this romance feels beneath the filmmakers, and indeed the film slows down to crawl during these sequences. If it weren't for the constant of Kum, as well as the intersplicing of scenes from the first Golden Chicken, this would almost seem like a different movie.

But some good does occur in GC2's second half: it gives Jacky Cheung and Sandra Ng a chance to share the screen. Despite the relative familiarity of their romance, the actors work remarkably well together, and their banter yields some worthwhile, if not overt, emotional payoffs. Maybe the writing doesn't seem particularly noteworthy, but Ng and Cheung bring out the best in it. There are times when actors and the lives they create do more than the script justifies; this would seem to be one of those times. That, and Golden Chicken 2's humorous 2046 wrap-up, redeems whatever uneven or ill-fitting stuff occurs in the previous 100 minutes. At times the filmmakers try to be too smart, or too coy (the big surprise at the end is no big surprise), but there is an obvious wit and an admirable love for Hong Kong and its people that shines through whatever mixed messages occur. Like the first Golden Chicken, there is humor and heart to spare in Golden Chicken 2, and though the sum of the parts may not be all that, the parts themselves feel more than worthwhile. (Kozo 2004)

 
Awards: 23rd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
Nomination - Best Actor (Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau)
Nomination - Best Actress (Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu)
Nomination - Best Art Direction (Yee Chung-Man and Mak Kwok-Keung)
Nomination - Best Costume Design and Make-Up (Yee Chung-Man and Cheung Sai-Kit)
41st Golden Horse Awards
• Nomination - Best Actor (Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau)
 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mega Star/Media Asia
2-Disc Set
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
"Making of" featurette, Music Video, Trailer, Photo Gallery

image courtesy of Mega Star Home Video Distribution, Ltd.

   
 
 
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