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Leave Me Alone

     

Ekin Cheng and Charlene Choi run and gun in Leave Me Alone.

Chinese: 阿孖有難  
Year: 2004
Director: Danny Pang Fat
Producer: Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang Fat
Cast: Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin, Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin, Dayo Wong Chi-Wah, Jan Lam Hoi-Fung, Kenny Bee, Lawrence Chou Chun-Wai
The Skinny: While ridiculous and sometimes bombastic, Danny Pang's Leave Me Alone also manages to be clever and entertaining—and is nearly the perfect anti-star vehicle for Hong Kong Cinema's greatest accidental superstar: Ekin Cheng. Though most Young and Dangerous fans will likely not agree, this could be the greatest Ekin Cheng movie ever.
 
  Review
by Kozo:

At some point, most Hong Kong Cinema fans will realize that film quality doesn't always make or break a Hong Kong movie. Sure, we'd like our movies to be well-balanced films with good stories, good acting, and hopefully a low level of suckage, but sometimes you should just be happy if your favorite stars look good—or manage to look good despite appearing in a questionable motion picture. That thinking could be the primary reason that Leave Me Alone, the new action comedy from Danny Pang (of The Pang Brothers), manages to succeed. While not really a great film, this uneven hodgepodge of over-the-top action, dark comedy, strange sexual politics, and unexpected weirdness manages to entertain. Plus, it features Ekin Cheng as a homosexual fashion designer. How could this not be an entertaining film?

Ekin Cheng is Yiu Chun-Man, a gay fashion designer in Hong Kong who gets a visit from twin brother Yiu Chun-Kit (duh, also Ekin Cheng). Kit is visiting from Thailand, and after haranguing his bro for his fey ways, promptly takes his expensive car out for a spin and gets into a horrendous accident. The kicker: a woman dies in the accident, and Kit was driving with Man's license. Since the revelation of Kit's true identity would be a real legal tangle, Kit is forced to assume Man's identity and vice-versa. Even worse, Kit is now in a coma, meaning Man has to hang out at his bro's bedside hoping that he can clue him into the switcheroo as soon as he wakes up. If Kit wakes up and blabs his true identity, it could be bad news for both of the well-coiffed brothers.

Enter the inevitable romantic complications—two of them. On one hand, Kit's girlfriend Jane (taller Twin Charlene Choi) needs Man to fly to Thailand to pretend to be Kit. A bank deal needs closing and Kit's presence is required, so Man must hop a flight to Thailand and pretend to be a straight badass mofo. Meanwhile, back in Hong Kong, the real Kit is about to wake up to Man's ex-boyfriend (Jan Lam), who thinks the comatose hottie is his ex. Even worse, Kit's dealings in Thailand are about go to Hell. Kit owes money to bizarre loan shark King (Dayo Wong), and Man's attempts at proving his usefulness (both Kit and Jane judge Man to be a waste of space) seem to be going nowhere. Jane isn't doing so hot herself; her efforts at dealing with King are more bloody than beneficial. But Man does show a glimmer of competence that causes Jane to turn her head. Will she fall for Kit's homosexual twin? Will gay Man go straight? Will straight Kit go gay? And will Jane's father (Kenny Bee) finally realize that Man's fashion advice is primo stuff that will help him score with the ladies...or any homosexual males in the area?

Yes, Leave Me Alone sounds and is rather bizarre. Aside from the stunningly weird plot, director Danny Pang (who co-directed The Eye) throws in plenty of comedy lampooning sexual politics, homophobia, and Thai gang types. The gangsters in Leave Me Alone are sunglasses-wearing bohunks who dress like extras from a Robert Rodriguez film—when they're wearing clothes. In one bizarre sequence, Man (pretending to be Kit) and Jane enter a spa to negotiate with a tough gangster, whereupon all the guys jump up and display their privates to a non-reacting Jane and a struggling-to-not-react Man. The sequence gets punctuated by wannabe John Woo action, featuring Charlene Choi brandishing a firearm like a classic "girl with gun" from eighties Hong Kong Cinema. There's also slow motion—which miraculously makes the heroes impossible to hit—and some high-speed racing action that would put Ekin Cheng's Legend of Speed character to shame. The over-the-top action is actually somewhat entertaining, though ridiculously staged. While it's fun to check out some new attempts at two-gun Asian action, the sheer silliness of these actors pretending to be kickass action heroes is guaranteed to overload the believability meter of anyone with even an ounce of common sense.

Not that common sense or reality is a factor here, because it isn't. Danny Pang goes ultra-stylish in an uneven manner, crisscrossing slow-motion glamour shots with over-the-top comic music cues, some of which occur during the Jan Lam/Ekin Cheng scenes. Watching the straight Kit attempt to fend off the advances of Man's ex-boyfriend—who just so happens to be a high-ranking policeman—actually proves to be funny stuff. Much of that is due to Lam, who's deadpan amusing in his role, but if one person must get credit, it's Ekin Cheng. The former man called Hero earns big points in his double duty role, especially since he actually seems to create subtle differences between his two characters that aren't limited to hairstyle (Man's hair is slightly more "frilly" than Kit's) or posture (Man doesn't walk as "cooly" as Kit does). Kit and Man aren't outwardly very different, but Cheng manages to make the two seem like different guys. Charlene Choi fares worse, as it's really hard to imagine the diminutive pop queen as a dangerous woman in the Anita Mui mold. She manages decent emotions, and is much better here than in her dumber comedies (i.e., Hidden Heroes), but Choi is tough to buy as a kickass femme fatale.

Still, that's ultimately what makes Leave Me Alone a surprisingly satisfying pop-culture send-up. Nobody here is really playing a role that one would expect, except Ekin Cheng—and that's only half the time. Kit is a supercool Chan Ho-Nam type that one expects Cheng to play, but add that to his surprisingly sympathetic turn as Man, and you have a weird, strangely entertaining amalgamation of the Ekin Cheng you expect—and also the one you don't. Dayo Wong makes a hilariously oddball gang boss, Kenny Bee is amusing as Jane's dad, and even the film's bombastic emotions have an edge. During one sequence, Danny Pang goes psycho-syrupy with each character's memories of love, and the result is more laughable than touching. Still, when the relationships get tied up, it almost seems like something actually happened. The characters are supposed to have grown, or realized a part of themselves through this comic-violent ordeal, and Pang handles things with enough style and tongue-in-cheek humor that whatever emotions he creates are vaguely felt.

Leave Me Alone is far from a great movie, and is even questionably good, but it does possess a satiric edge that's quite entertaining, especially when you consider who's playing who in this movie. Maybe the acolytes of Ekin Cheng's Young and Dangerous days will find the very idea to be blasphemous, but seeing the actor in this dual role seems to be the perfect commentary on his iconic and sometimes questionable career. In Leave Me Alone, Ekin Cheng is simultaneously an awesome, too-cool action hero AND a preening pretty boy who's more concerned with cool hair and good clothes than kicking some ass. The fact that he plays both roles, acts against himself (via doubles and visual effects), and even forms two love triangles with BOTH a male and female co-star should get this movie points for its sheer chutzpah alone. For anyone who's watched a lot of Ekin Cheng films (and most fans of Hong Kong Cinema have) Leave Me Alone could prove quite entertaining—even if you don't think the movie is really very good. (Kozo 2004)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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