Hong Kong Cinema hits a new low with the largely average
costume action comedy Where is Mama's Boy?
By largely average, we mean
the film is a random mishmash of typical costume comedy
elements, i.e. musical numbers, swordplay, assorted
bathroom humor, movie parodies, half-baked romantic
storylines, and general silliness. Normally this type
of filmmaking would get an "ehhh" as its
official evaluation, as it's complete fluff that's
likely charming to undemanding audiences or people
who simply don't know better. The straw that breaks
this camel's back: William Hung. The "popular"
UC Berkeley engineering student who rose to "fame"
on American Idol shows up in a pivotal role.
It's official: Armageddon is upon us.
Nancy Sit stars as Aunt
Huan, the proprietor of the massage-and-song Music
Fantasy. While decked out like your standard costume
comedy brothel, the Music Fantasy is a strictly no
nookie zone. Guys get smacked and thrown out by kung-fu
kicking girls if they ever get fresh - an understandable
offense when girls like Belinda Hamnett and Yoyo Mung
are on the staff. Aunt Huan has other issues: she's
looking for her long-lost son, who's supposed to have
a mole on his foot. Huan's sister (Tien Niu) has it
in for her, and hires a group of losers (Shaolin
Soccer vets Tin Kai-Man, Lam Chi-Chung, and Chan
Kwok-Kwan) to sow discord at Music Palace. Plus there's
an idiotic dope out there called Ma Chongyang (William
Hung), who also goes by the name Siu Bang (or "Little
Cake"). Siu Bang could also be Huan's son. Or
maybe not - but since he's such a sweet, positive
fellow, Aunt Huan begs him to be her son anyway. If
you must retch, now's the time.
There are two parts
of Where is Mama's Boy to look at. The first
part is the standard costume comedy stuff, which is
loaded with the typical signifiers, i.e. parodies
of popular films (the lawyers of Hero, House
of Flying Daggers, and Kill Bill are officially
on notice), questionably interesting comedy, and by-the-numbers
swordplay. The total package is pretty tepid stuff,
and the performers are either slumming (Yoyo Mung,
please go back to television or Johnnie To), uninteresting
(most of the other girls), past their prime (old school
martial arts stars Chen Kuan-Tai and Lau Wing show
up), or wasting their energy (Nancy Sit actually appears
to act, and Tien Niu is amusingly evil). If this movie
had been released during the early nineties, it could
have received a quick shrug before fading into obscurity.
As a standard genre entry, Where is Mama's Boy?
is not a good film, but it's also not the worst thing
you'll ever find. It's lame stuff, but so inconsequential
that getting angry would probably require too much
Ah, but then there's
the second part of Where is Mama's Boy?: William
Hung. Just casting the astoundingly untalented Hung
should guarantee the filmmakers a spot in the Hong
Kong Cinema Hall of Shame, but Hung's performance
and character make a case for capital punishment.
Not only is Siu Bang the nicest, most generous fellow
around, but his goodness is actually supposed to be
an inspiration to people. Siu Bang can also talk to
the animals ala Dr. Doolittle, and everywhere
he goes people clap at his crappy Cantonese singing.
Siu Bang's signature song is about little cakes, so
the lyrics include a chorus of "Siu Bang, Siu
Bang", which sounds like Ricky Martin's "She
Bangs". That song and its fallout were the official
start of this nightmare of American pop culture, which
is more than enough reason to snatch this DVD out
of your player, break it across your knee, then pay
the replacement cost from Blockbuster Video. To take
it a step further, you should simply pirate this film.
That's right: I'm urging you to break the law. If
the producers of Where is Mama's Boy? take
a bath on this one, then there could be justice in
Oddly, the worst thing about
Where is Mama's Boy? is it's simply not bad
enough. Had this been a totally craptacular film,
one could almost justify having it on the shelf as
kind of a trophy of the truly terrible. But Where
is Mama's Boy? is just boring and bad, and is
rendered unwatchable by William Hung's not-ready-for-summer-camp-skit
acting. If you thought Hung couldn't sing, then wait
until you get a load of his acting. The Hungmeister's
wooden delivery, obvious double takes, and "get
him off the screen" charisma all add up to a
movie that could cause untold emotional stress, and
possible recurring nightmares. It's also stuff that
should never be seen again, and if you decide to whip
out the DVD at a party to amuse your friends, they
better be A) hellaciously drunk, B) people you wish
to alienate, or C) the most forgiving people on the
planet. Really, this whole thing is just a waste of
time and energy, because ripping on Wililam Hung is
like picking on the slowest kid in class. Hung is
probably a nice guy, and if his "inspirational"
messages are to be believed, he has the character
of Buddha to go along with the same chubby cheeks.
However, Hung has also set back the cause of Asians
in American by about forty years, and if this film
ever goes stateside, he may bring Hong Kong down with
him. Where is Mama's Boy? tanked at the box
office, but that's not good enough. Hong Kong Cinema
needs a do over. Now. (Kozo 2005)