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Magic Boy

(left) Anjo Leung delivers food, and (right) Kate Yeung in Magic Boy.
Chinese: 魔術男
Year: 2007
Director: Adam Wong Sau-Ping
Producer: Eric Tsang Chi-Wai
Writer: Adam Wong Sau-Ping, Cheung Ka-Lam
Cast: Anjo Leung Hiu-Fung, Kate Yeung, Tsui Tin-Yau, Siu Yee, Asuka Higuchi, Gloria Yip Wan-Yi, Wong Yau-Nam, Wing Cheung Wing-Yin, Harry Wong, Kelvin Kwan Chor-Yiu, Michelle Loo
The Skinny: Nothing truly new occurs here, but this unassuming youth romance from director Adam Wong possesses an energy, sincerity and local flavor that make it winning and quite enjoyable. One of the Hong Kong Cinema's more pleasant surprises in 2007.
by Kozo:

An unassuming youth romance, Magic Boy is a fine antidote to the over-calculated excesses of such audience-favorite relationship movies as Love is Not All Around. Director Adam Wong (When Beckham Met Owen) directs this Mongkok-set tale, which stars newcomer Anjo Leung as Leggo, an amateur magician and food deliveryman whose positive attitude can be seen in the carefree way in which he approaches his daily life. His friend and partner, Hei (Tsui Tin-Yau) is much more serious, striving to become a stage magician while honing his craft as a performer on the Mongkok streets.

It's during a performance in Mongkok that Leggo first spies Wing (Kate Yeung), and he becomes immediately smitten with her pretty face and modest décolletage. His new goal in life is to woo her, which he does by showing up at her workplace, a second-hand designer bag shop, to mistakenly deliver food. When she calls him on his mistakes, he usually performs a magic trick, leading to a daily ritual that's as entertaining as it is sometimes overplayed. Leggo is not traditionally handsome and is a bit of a spaz, but he's a likable fellow whose earnest desire for Wing's attention is not without its charm.

Eventually, Leggo's perseverance pays off and Wing agrees to date him, but not before hidden details quietly surface. Wing secretly holds a torch for Hei, which first developed when he performed a trick for her in a local café. On his part, Hei isn't completely blind to Wing's obvious girlish charms, but Leggo is his pal, so Hei mopes quietly in the background. Meanwhile, Leggo is so enraptured with his new girlfriend that he never seems to calm down. He squires Wing enthusiastically, but also seems too satisfied with his attainment of her company, which he describes as the only goal he has in his life. Before long, this status quo begs a reevaluation, and Wing resorts to asking Leggo the point blank question, "Why can't you grow up?"

Magic Boy touches upon many familiar themes and conflicts common to Hong Kong youth films, using occasional voiceover and colorful local details to explore the push and pull of young adults as they struggle with dating and maturity. There's really not much new in Adam Wong's "time-to-come-of-age" film, but the film possesses a fun energy and a generous portrait of local Hong Kong life, and seems to accurately convey both the precious and perishable qualities of young love in affecting and lovely style. Some events seemingly have no cause or effect, but there's rhyme, if not reason to what occurs onscreen. When the film doesn't follow expected narrative convention, the winning energy and upbeat pace take over.

Part of the fun is in the film's use of magic. Most of the tricks are real, and are performed live by Anjo Leung, a real-life apprentice of Hong Kong magic guru Harry Wong, who has a funny and very Hong Kong-centric cameo. Much of Magic Boy plays towards local Hong Kong residents, from the cameos to the street-level scenes, to even the numerous uniformed schoolgirls wandering about, getting inspired by Leggo's magic. Leggo's magic creates wannabe magicians, and the device is a bit cloying. However, the whole moves by so breezily that it's easy to buy, and also enjoy. The tricks are also fun, and the film effectively conveys their charm and sometimes their wonder.

As Leggo, Anjo Leung sometimes overplays, betraying his status as an acting newcomer. Still, once one gets accustomed to his initial manic energy, he becomes likable and even identifiable. Kate Yeung is very winning as the local girl of every Mongkok boy's dreams, possessing strong character and a photogenic presence that enlivens the screen. Tsui Tin-Yau is the weakest of the three, his character's stoic cool sometimes coming off as inert aloofness. Tsui doesn't make a very compelling third point of this potential love triangle, though he has a few amusing moments that poke fun at his character's omnipresent stoicism.

When Magic Boy ends, it doesn't feel like much actually happened. Some characters move forward with what they have, while others don't, but somehow it feels that some change, however slight, has occurred. One minor joy in Magic Boy is that each main character actually gets to make a decision about their immediate future, and whatever progression occurs feels natural and earned, and not like the lip service so commonly associated with a youth film. Whether or not the decisions are the correct ones is irrelevant; it's merely another stop on the road to maturity. Again, not a very new or inspired theme, but Magic Boy gives new life to old tricks. In magic and in film, it's sometimes effort, showmanship, and sleight of hand that make all the difference. (Kozo 2007)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Panorama Entertainment
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

images courtesy of Golden Scene Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen