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The Spy Dad

The cast of The Spy Dad attempt to sucker unwitting audiences out of their cash.
Chinese: 絕種鐵金剛  
Year: 2003
Director: Wong Jing
Producer: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Cast: Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Candace Yu On-On, Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Gillian Chung Yun-Tung, Chapman To Man-Chat, Teresa Mo Sun-Kwan, Eric Kot Man-Fai, Tsui Kam-Kong, Edison Chen, Jim Chim Sui-Man, Chan Wai-Man, Tommy Yuen Man-On, Rosemary, Pak Suet, Tats Lau Yi-Tat, Perrie Lai Hoi-San, Lau Ho-Wai, Joe Cheng Cho, Tin Cheuk-Kwan, Harwick Lau Hau-Wai
The Skinny: An astounding creative achievement from Wong Jing, which takes the spy genre and skewers it in a mercilessly funny, offbeat manner which can best be described as "award worthy." Ummm...yeah. Actually, this is a sophomoric, largely unfunny movie which can best be described as "lazy." Looking for real moviemaking? Don't go here.
by Kozo:

One step forward, two steps back. Earlier this year, Wong Jing brought us The Colour of Truth, which was an interesting and entertaining cop thriller that actually qualified as a good movie. It was probably not an award-worthy exercise, but the cinematic tension and rare attention to story seemed to indicate that maybe Wong isn't always reading racing papers when directing his films. Well, when shooting The Spy Dad, it seems as though his nose was back in those racing papers again. If he expended any effort during the shooting of The Spy Dad, it was probably at the Hong Kong Jockey Club AND NOT on the set of the film. The film's lazy storyline, sophomoric comedy, and interminable series of unfunny jokes signals the return of the Wong Jing we all know and loathe.

Tony Leung Ka-Fai stars as Jimmie Bon, a movie actor who plays a James Bond-like hero in a popular series of big screen adventures. However, despite his suave and debonair onscreen presence, he's a total wuss of a man, and actually lost his wife Isabel (Candy Yu On-On) because of his inability to stand up and fight like the movie hero he plays. He's still loved by his two daughters Cream (adorable Gillian Chung of Twins) and Ice-Cream (Winnie Chan), who nevertheless diss him every so often. He's even hen-pecked by his assistant/agent Barbara (Teresa Mo), and puts up with his layabout brother-in-law Love Kwan (Chapman To, who is attempting a world record for highest percentage of Hong Kong features made in a year). Bon could use some toughening-up, or at least the chance to prove he can stand up to something.

Bon does get his chance to strut his stuff, and it's thanks to a manufactured series of events that could only happen in a Hong Kong comedy. Isabel returns from her US movie career to offer Bon a part in a new movie, but simulataneously, Interpol agent Tienan (Jordan Chan) arrives on the scene on a top secret mission. He's after a pair of viruses cooked up by the evil doctor Donno (Eric Kot with bad hair). One of the viruses is an intelligence dengenerating virus which makes the victim act like an incontinent four year-old. The other virus is SUPER SARS, which apparently means that Hong Kong can now take jokes about the deadly virus which created big problems for the Special Administration Region this past spring. Tienan tries to secure the virus while Donno is dealing with the evil Lungyi (Tsui Kam-Kong, returning from unknown cinema exile), but things go weird and the container of Super SARS ends up in Bon's garage. Tienan ends up a dopey incontinent four year-old thanks to exposure to the other virus (You getting this so far?), and soon invades the lives of Bon and his family. Then...wackiness ensues!

Only Wong Jing could have cooked up this mess of a plotline, which is as logical as letting Michael Jackson babysit your kids. Basically, all this randomly plotted crap falls into the lap of Bon, who now gets to stand up and show he's a man. Along the way, he has to deal with other stuff, including Ronald (Edison Chen), who threatens to date Cream, and various compromising positions which make him look like a sexual deviant in front of his ex-wife (don't ask). There's also some weird virtual reality PDA which teaches Gillian Chung how to fight like Jet Li, and parodies of The Matrix, Enter the Dragon, and probably Wong Jing's home movies. Also, Chapman To loses his memory, goes to get deflowered at a massage parlor, and walks around thinking Bon is not his brother-in-law, but in fact his father. Plus there's bad-looking CGI, various cameos by such cinema luminaries as Jim Chim Sui-Man, Rosemary and Tats Lau, and probably a brain hemorrhage if you're paying too close attention. Ladies and gentlemen: this is not filmmaking.

Then again, this obviously wasn't supposed to be. Wong Jing's work here is reminiscent of not only his own work from the early nineties, but nearly every other silly Hong Kong comedy released during that time. Lazy filmmaking like this was standard operating procedure back then, and scripts were usually written on the spot with no attention paid to storyline, pacing or even the caliber of jokes being cracked. The Spy Dad wears those traits like a badge of pride, and follows through with ninety minutes of inane comedy and uninteresting hijinks which is guaranteed to entertain those who want exactly what this film promises: absolutely nothing of any value. Chances are, those who saw this film thought, "Oh my god! Gillian Chung in a movie! She's so cute! And hey, Chapman To! He's a funny guy! What the hell, I'll go see The Spy Dad, even if it stars the OTHER Tony Leung." There you go: fifty-five wasted Hong Kong dollars.

Not that such lazy Hong Kong hilarity was always a bad thing. Wong Jing also put together Boys Are Easy, a 1993 lazy comedy-fest chockful of parodies and silliness and hey, it was fun stuff. You'd think Wong Jing would try to at least match his earlier work, but Boys Are Easy would seem to be the exception and not the rule. When you take random plotting, unrelated movie parodies, actors of varying skill (Tony Leung Ka-Fai is funny, Edison Chen is just there), and put them together with no clue what to do, chances are you'll end up with a total mess. Which is just what The Spy Dad is, a total mess. Granted, there are occasional fun jokes, but when only 1 out of every 10 jokes is any good, that means the movie is 10% funny and 90% not. Fans of Gillian Chung or Edison Chen may want to check the film out anyway because hey, they're in the movie! But everyone else, you are hereby warned: stay away from The Spy Dad. Bottom line, this movie wastes your time and takes your money, which are two things we all probably could use a little more of. (Kozo 2003)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC (Marked as Region 3)
Panorama Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
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image courtesy of Chinastar Entertainment Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen