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Goodbye Mr. Cool
Year: 2001 "Are you making fun of my acting?"
Ekin Cheng
Director: Jingle Ma Chor-Sing
Cast: Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin, Karen Mok Man-Wai, Rain Li Choi-Wah, Stephanie Che Yuen-Yuen, Jackie Lui Chung-Yin, Chapman To Man-Chat, Lam Suet, Wong Bun-Yuen, Tam Wai-Ho
The Skinny: Competent and entertaining triad drama that never rises above its genre because of the routine handling from director Jingle Ma. This is a decent outing with an effective central performance by Ekin Cheng, but it's ultimately only slightly above average.
by Kozo:
     Ekin Cheng makes his bid for Andy Lau-like status with this ambitious triad movie that's interesting but questionably staged. Director Jingle Ma does a credible job with the actors, but his storytelling choices leave a little to be desired. Cheng plays Dragon, an ex-convict who works at the Kowloon Cafe after his release from prison. He spends his days with ex-triad pal Lam Suet while making small change as a busboy. However, Dragon isn't just your standard ex-con ex-triad. No, he's a legendary ex-triad who was famed for his ability to kick ass like you wouldn't believe. Though he wants nothing from that world anymore, he can't exactly escape it. That's because "every time he tries go get out, they pull him back in."
     The triad-lobby has numerous people attempting to hook Dragon back in. Chief among them is ex-girlfriend Helen (ably played by Karen Mok), who still remembers the passionate nights spent in Dragon's triad embrace. She's now a ranking triad officer, and though he says he wants no part of her life, she just won't give up. Also, various triads (including Chapman To and Jackie Lui) show up and treat Dragon like a ranking triad official - even though he insists he's just a waiter.
     Dragon has another reason to stay straight: he discovers he has a six year-old son who's never known his father. Also, his son's teacher Miss Mon (new idol singer Rain Li) shows up now and again to lend Dragon some moral (and possible romantic) support. Yep, everything's just great for Dragon. That is, until he get dragged back into the triads.
     Ekin Cheng does a credible job with the role of Dragon, but that may be because Dragon seems like an older Chan Ho-Nam than anything else. At the very least, he demonstrates a better emotional range than he previously has, and seeing him play a father is surprisingly effective. This is a good movie for him, and hopefully a sign that he can graduate to better roles.
     If anything brings the film down, it's not Cheng, it's director Jingle Ma and his overwritten script. The story of Dragon is a decent one with all the primary traits of the triad genre, but too often it verbalizes what it shouldn't. It's like the filmmakers think the audience won't get it, so just in case they have a character explain what's going on.
     Also, Ma's use of style is sometimes inappropriate. He's a competent director, but his films carry little weight because any and all style serves no narrative purpose. It's just there to make things look flashier. That may work for Hot War or Tokyo Raiders, but Goodbye Mr. Cool tries to tell a meaningful story. It succeeds partway, but only because the situations and actors help us along. Ma's inexperience with subtext and the unspoken only makes things less affecting than they could be. (Kozo 2001)
Note: • The Mei Ah DVD possesses excellent picture and sound quality, but unfortunately it's a DVD-10 that requires flipping halfway through the film to complete the picture. Didn't Laserdisc die for expressly that reason?
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS
Removable English and Chinese subtitles

image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser Disc Co., Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen