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Princess and Seven
Kung Fu Masters
Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters

Sandra Ng, Eric Tsang and Ronald Cheng in Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters.
Chinese:

笑功震武林

Year: 2013
Director: Wong Jing, Keung Kwok-Man
Producer: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Action: Phillip Kwok Chun-Fung
Cast: Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Eric Tsang Chi-Wai, Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, Wong Cho-Lam, Xie Na, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Yuen Wah, Natalie Meng Yao, Kimmy Tong Fei, Rose Chan Ka-Woon, Philip Ng Won-Lung, Dennis To Yue-Hong, Jo Koo, Timmy Hung Tin-Ming, Xing Yu, Jiang Lu-Xia, Wen Chao, Lee Kin-Yan, Du Yi-Heng, Mo Meilin, Xu Mingzhu
The Skinny:

Wong Jing comes through with a solid effort, meaning it's funny and futile filmmaking that entertains more than it bores. This all-star wackfest is nothing to write home about but that's just fine. With ninjas.

 
Review
by Kozo:
After his period gangster epic The Last Tycoon, Wong Jing returns to crappy comedy with Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters. Wong and co-director Keung Kwok-Man (Bullet and Brain) helm this star-jammed laffer about a bunch of hidden martial arts experts who band together to beat up some generic bad guys and take on a sexy female ninja played by Jo Koo. While the story (aside from the inclusion of ninjas) is no great shakes, the film itself is a pleasant and even surprising success, managing decent laughs, solid action and a few inspired moments. Nothing here is noteworthy, but would this film be awesome Sunday afternoon viewing when your cousins are visiting and you’re forced to spend time with them in front of the television? Absolutely! Wong Jing, you’re the man! Or at least the equivalent of such if we lower our expectations accordingly.

In early 1900s China, political and personal intrigue is afoot. Kuomingtang-affiliated General Lin (Sammo Hung) lords over the local area, while the thuggish denizens of Tiger Den (led by Xing Yu and Jiang Luxia) remain in uneasy opposition. Contrasting with both is Lucky Star Town, a happy little hamlet where nothing bad happens, and it’s all thanks to the seven wacky kung-fu masters hidden throughout the burg. Manysons (Eric Tsang) roams about carrying his many motherless children, while the loud and sassy Madonna (Sandra Ng) runs local restaurant McShop. Madonna wields the eardrum-bursting “Life-Taking Annoying Sound”, which she uses to terrorize Little Trumpet (Ronald Cheng), who has designs on her sister Mademoiselle Hong (Xie Na). There’s a romantic rectangle going on between the four, a plot development that’s as original as it is compelling. Basically, the romance is there as fodder for jokes, so don’t expect anything approaching actual emotion.

That’s four of Lucky Star Town’s martial artists. The other three are Taoist priest Chanting Bing (Yuen Wah); Miss Manuelle (Natalie Meng), a brothel madam with high-kicking skills; and whiny dressmaker Little Tailor (Wong Cho-Lam). Chanting Bing desperately loves Miss Manuelle but she doesn’t notice, while Little Tailor pines after Cheryl Lin (Kimmy Tong), General Lin’s daughter and the film’s eponymous “princess”. Cheryl is super nice but questionably intelligent; she falls instantly for revolutionary Janice (Rose Chan), thinking that she’s a he. Janice and her three compatriots (Dennis To, Timmy Hung, Xu Mingzhu) get routed early on by the Tiger Den inhabitants, who are in cahoots with Kiyoko Kurosawa (Jo Koo) and her Japanese ninja platoon. Ninjas + Tiger Den equals a troubling alliance for patriotic Chinese everywhere. Will General Lin and the seven kung fu masters of Lucky Star Town man up to defend their country?

There’s nationalism in Princess and Seven Kung Fu Masters but it’s benign and barely worth mention. This is a generic, unremarkable story that’s told in equally unremarkable style. Wong Jing goes for drawn-out gag sequences carried by slapstick and banter, followed by equally long scenes of snooze-inducing intrigue. The main comedy cast is fine but the actors brought in for dramatic purposes, including Rose Chan and Philip Ng as badass martial artist Tony Luo, are numbingly serious. Occasional scenes feature the two acting with stone-faced gravity – a marked contrast to Wong Cho-Lam’s and Ronald Cheng’s constant mugging. There’s minor darkness; the film features a few deaths, including one that’s quite sad, considering the character’s genial personality. That’s as much weight as the film achieves, however, as the cast is too big and many of the subplots are useless if not ultimately forgotten. Wong Jing is not a detail-oriented filmmaker, though that’s hardly a news flash.

The giggles compensate. The drawn-out jokes can elicit groans but there are some – namely the off-color or dirtier gags – that earn bigger laughs. The actors deliver the expected, meaning if you think Ronald Cheng, Sandra Ng or Wong Cho-Lam are annoying then this film won’t change your opinion. If you like these comedians then you’re in luck as their chemistry and timing frequently offsets the listless staging. The action by Philip Kwok (of Shaw Brothers “Venoms” fame) is sometimes wacky, but it features enough quick-hitting impact delivered by real martial artists to provide a minor kung-fu fix. Unfortunately, handheld camera and rapid editing muddle the action and make it look cheap. Still, this messy mix possesses old school Hong Kong Cinema charm – and how can you completely dislike a film with flying ninjas and a climactic action scene that resembles Whack-a-Mole? Well, you can dislike Princess and the Seven Kung Fu Masters but it does its job so you really shouldn’t. (Kozo, 3/2013)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Y2K Vision Limited
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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