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Louis Koo, Jackie Chan, and Gao Yuanyuan attend to Matthew Medvedev.
AKA: Robin-B-Hood (US Title)
Chinese: 寶貝計劃  
Year: 2006
Director: Benny Chan Muk-Sing
Producer: Jackie Chan, Willie Chan, Solon So, Wang Zhonglei, Benny Chan Muk-Sing
Writer: Jackie Chan, Alan Yuen Kam-Lun, Benny Chan Muk-Sing
Action: Jackie Chan,Li Chung-Chi
Cast: Jackie Chan, Louis Koo Tin-Lok, Michael Hui Koon-Man, Matthew Medvedev, Gao Yuanyuan, Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin, Chen Baoguo, Yuen Biao, Teresa Carpio, Candace Yu On-On, Cherrie Ying Choi-Yi, Terence Yin, Conroy Chan Chi-Chung, Andrew Lin Hoi, Ken Lo Wai-Kwong, Hiro Hayama, Guk Fung, Ken Wong Hap-Hei, Tony Ho Wah-Chiu, Winnie Leung Man-Yi, Don Li Yat-Long, Mandy Chiang Nga-Man, Gill Mohindepaul Singh, Bonnie Wong Man-Wai, Daniel Wu, Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung, Asuka Higuchi, Gordon Lam Ka-Tung, Joe Cheung Tung-Cho, Hui Siu-Hung, Jason Tobin, Sarika Choy
The Skinny: A painfully overdone climax hurts matters, but Rob-B-Hood is entertaining commercial stuff that demonstrates that Jackie Chan still has the ability to delight and surprise like few screen entertainers do. The cast of familiar and sometimes long-missed stars helps matters considerably. And man, that is one cute baby.
by Kozo:

If you can't beat them, join them - or, in this case, hire them. Any discussion of a new Jackie Chan film must reference the action actor's advancing age, and that isn't meant to be a slight to Chan at all. Let's face it, the man isn't as spry or durable as he was back in the days of Project A, and departing youth also means fewer of the crazy stunts and action antics that Chan is known for. Well, for Rob-B-Hood, Chan has hired youth - and we're not talking about younger actors like co-stars Louis Koo or Charlene Choi. Chan has gone and hired a complete infant for his latest action-comedy: baby Matthew Medvedev is the selling point for Rob-B-Hood, and his oversized noggin gets more acreage on the movie's poster than either Chan or his costars. In hiring a tyke, Chan has gone blindingly commercial - but hey, it works! Rob-B-Hood is pandering and obvious, but also fun, unexpected, and a swell time at the movies. At least until the ending. We'll get to that.

Chan is Thongs, who partners with Octopus (Louis Koo) and Landlord (Michael Hui) to form a trio of safecracking cat burglars. The three regularly get together to relieve wealthy citizens of their valuables, which range from cash to jewelry to even gourmet shark fin. Thongs and Octopus have been taught by Landlord that thieves still have scruples; the trio may rob, but they don't rape, murder, or kidnap. That is, not until tonight. When Landlord's retirement stash gets pilfered, he willingly takes on a big assignment that involves the kidnapping of an adorable baby (Matthew Medvedev). Octopus and Thongs would never go for it, but by the time they catch on, the baby is in their bag and they're already fleeing the crime scene. The hand-off collapses, however. Landlord crashes the getaway van, but Thongs and Octopus manage to escape with the baby. When Landlord checks in with them from the slammer, he reveals that the kid is the offspring of an insanely rich tycoon. Instead of the expected $7 million payday, the payoff could be much, much more.

But Octopus and Thongs must first take care of the kid for the 1-2 weeks needed for Landlord to get released from jail. Not surprisingly, this is a bit of a chore for a couple of blokes like Thongs and Octopus, especially when you consider just how selfish they are. Thongs consistently gambles his money away, and is deep in debt, much to the shame of his family, who get harassed by loan sharks in his stead. Meanwhile, Octopus tries to seduce rich young women to snag a share of their family fortunes, while badgering his pregnant wife Yan (Charlene Choi) to get an abortion in Shenzen right away. Yeah, both guys kind of suck, but once they're charged with caring for the kid, everything changes. The emasculating situations and poop jokes start flying fast and furiously, and the two are forced out of their me-first comfort zones. The first evening, the baby can't stop crying so Thongs and Octopus have to charm him with their questionable singing skills and games of peek-a-boo. It's still not enough, so they enlist the aid of comely young nurse (Mainland actress Gao Yuanyuan), who teaches them the ins and outs of baby care. Cue a five-minute montage where Thongs and Octopus go from accidental baby-sitters to full-fledged parents. Man, that was quick.

But not unexpected. Rob-B-Hood possesses a very common formula, about a bunch of selfish masculine types who get softened by the goo-goo eyes of an adorable little kid. The script is as original as as your average Wong Jing flick, and leans on several clichés to wring the expected tears and laughs from a presumably family-filled audience. It's all very calculated and even crass, but hey, it's also very effective. Rob-B-Hood may be retread stuff, but it hits its marks well, and does what it should with credible commercial efficiency. Benny Chan directs the film smartly, mixing the jokes, the "aw shucks" baby moments, and Jackie Chan's trademark creative action into a well-rounded, entertaining whole. There are the occasional detours into the maudlin, and most of the lead characters' personal issues aren't terribly inspiring. Still, the conflicts are resolved in ways that seem to strike the correct emotional chords. Thongs may be a bad son, but hanging with the baby makes him a good father. Octopus wants Yan to get an abortion, but the baby makes him change his mind. Landlord's wife (Teresa Carpio) once had a miscarriage, so he cheers her up by introducing her to the baby. It's not surprising stuff, but at least it doesn't embarrass or offend.

A lot of this is due to the cast, which mixes rising stars with old faves, character actors, and even a couple of surprise cameos. Jackie Chan and Louis Koo are far from the most subtle of actors, but both are willing to put their manhood on the line in order to score some laughs. Koo, in particular, lampoons his lady-killer image with an amusing, almost nauseating glee. Michael Hui is still an ace at both comedy and drama, and Yuen Biao, who has a supporting role as Thongs' police officer pal Mok, is still able to hold his own during Chan's creatively choreographed action sequences. The supporting players are used effectively too. Charlene Choi is refreshingly moody as Yan, and Gao Yuanyuan gives her too-angelic character a sincere appeal. A minor surprise occurs thanks to Nicholas Tse, who is shockingly funny in a brief cameo as an armored car driver. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Daniel Wu, who plays Tse's partner and delivers the movie's worst line, a colossal groaner that suffers from a too-obvious setup.

But the most pivotal actor in the entire film may be little Matthew Medvedev, who has more screen charisma in his oversized head than most screen actors could probably ever hope to possess. Considering just how much peril the baby is put in - which includes getting put in washing machines, almost getting crushed in traffic, or being dangled from the window of a Lan Kwai Fong apartment building - it's helpful that the kid they cast is so damn cute. Eventually it's revealed that a crimeboss (Chen Baoguo) wants the baby to prove his family lineage, and when the baby cries after being separated from kidnappers/adopted parents Thongs and Octopus, it's hard not to feel something for the little guy. It's supreme manipulation on the filmmakers' part, but thanks to the baby, it works. Frankly, the baby is so cute and expressive that one wonders if he's not some sort of robot. If so, sign him up for Rob-B-Hood 2 and 3.

Rob-B-Hood has received some nominal press coverage because it presents a "bad" Jackie Chan who's not a cop or a do-gooder, but instead a thief and a gambler. The claims are a bit overstated; the character of Thongs is really not that bad. He may be robbing a hospital of its chemotherapy medicine when he first appears, but before long he's demonstrated a conscience, and the film's climax hinges on him sacrificing himself to save a vulnerable child. Honestly, it may nearly be impossible to ever see Chan as a full-fledged baddie unless he's playing the Asian version of Hannibal Lecter, and even then the reaction would probably be, "Hey look, it's Jackie Chan trying to act like Hannibal Lecter!" Chan's screen persona is so affable and genuine-seeming that it's easy to root for him, and adding the baby and the eclectic cast to the mix gives Chan enough new tools to play with such that this latest screen outing doesn't feel as stale as some of his previous ones. Rob-B-Hood is fun because it allows Chan to play to his current strengths - comedy and inventive action sequences - and does so in an efficient, entertaining manner.

That is, up until the film's climax, which reintroduces us to Jackie Chan, the sweaty overactor. Rob-B-Hood frequently puts Thongs and the baby in over-the-top peril (much of it CGI-assisted), and while most of the sequences are entertaining, it is possible to go too far. The filmmakers do so in their overdone climax, which pairs Chan with another sweaty overactor in Louis Koo. Seeing the two wig out while desperately trying to save the baby can be affecting at first, but as the minutes tick by and their acting grows egregiously sweaty and twitchy, it all starts to feel uncomfortable and even a little creepy. Their method of saving the baby is also incredibly ridiculous, such that it's possible to be taken completely out of the movie by the time the familiar outtakes-over-the-credits begin to play. To make matters worse, the overlong ending pads the film to over 2 hours, plus it seems suspiciously designed to please Mainland censors. Still, these quibbles are aimed only at the last twenty or so minutes of the film, and anyway, the concessions are made in order to earn mass audience appeal, which the film handily does. For the majority of its running time, Rob-B-Hood is amusing commercial stuff that should be fun for nearly the whole family. However, if you have your own kids at home, please take better care of them than these guys do. (Kozo 2006)

Notes: • The Cantonese title for Rob-B-Hood is Bo Bui Gai Wak, which recalls another film called A Gai Wak, or Project A. Trivia: it's exciting.
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Joy Sales Film and Video Distributors
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Various Extras
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen