The second film from Riley Yip is a pleasing enough diversion
thatís buoyed by exceptional style and cinematography. As
Yip showed in Love is not a game, but a joke, he has
a definite handle on quirkiness and how it can endear characters
to an audience.
The story concerns Mountain Lion
(Eric Tsang), an aging triad hitman who returns to HK to settle
a score with old nemesis Nine Dragons (Chan Wai-Man). He enlists
young Smokey (Nicholas Tse) to help him, but instead of a
revenge flick we get an intriguing buddy flick about memory,
brotherhood, and the illusion of love.
Mountain Lion is actually
searching for Nine Dragons because some years ago they fought
over a mysterious woman (Shu Qi) who caught Lionís eye. Now
all these years later, Lion wants to find her again and he
needs Smokey to guide him through the new triad underworld,
filled with wacky triads (Terence Yin and Sandra Ng), unstable
girlfriends (Jo Kuk), overly quirky mothers (Elaine Kam),
and a young female policewoman (Kelly Chan) who is Smokeyís
own secret object of desire.
This is a worthy little film that falters
only in its utter abstraction. Yip gives too much weight to
everything, and the aim of the film becomes garbled underneath
too much quirkiness. In his previous film, he was able to
bring everything to a definite point, but in Metade Fumaca
it seems the ride is more important than the result.
However, that ride happens to be
an excellent one. Metade Fumaca is full of many little
joys, from a wonderful soundtrack to excellent performances
(Nic Tse has a real future) to some terrific set pieces. The
most entertaining bit is a flashback to Mountain Lion and
Nine Dragons as youngsters, which features Stephen Fung and
Sam Lee as younger versions of Eric Tsang and Chan Wai-Man.
It's a wildly entertaining sequence which is simultaneously
absurd, charming and cinematically cool. The scene is worth
the price of admission, though it's not the only reason to
check out the film. Metade Fumaca provides more than
most other films ever aspire to. (Kozo