Tuesday, February 16, 2010

King of Comedy

It's been awhile since I saw a Stephen Chow movie, so I threw this one on last night. It's also been awhile since I burst forth with barking blasts of uncontrollable laughter -- what a great feeling. Chow is funny on his own, but what really knocks his comedy out of the park is a combo of the people he surrounds himself with, comedic compatriots like Ng Man Tat and Tin Kai Man who form a loose troupe from film to film, and the broad nature of the gags, bordering on, if not spilling wholly over into, outrageous gross-out humor. A bar hostess forced to entertain a particularly repellent male customer is a funny pretense; ah! He's got roaches in his hair and a worm crawling out his ear! Or how about the tender love scene between Chow and Karen Mok wherein a big glob of runny snot hangs perilously out of his nose over her face? OK, it's puerile, but nobody laughs more deliriously than an 8-year-old, and sometimes a fella needs to laugh like that. Sue me.

Also on hand is smoking hot Celia Cheung. More recently, Ms. Cheung found unwanted publicity when "candid" photos of her and a number of other HK actresses made their way from singer/actor Edison Chen's hard drive to the internet. Oh, and don't blink or you'll miss a walk-on cameo from Jackie Chan. He plays a stuntman (ha ha). The premise of the movie is that Chow is a "background artist" trying to worm his way into a more substantive role on a film shoot (a la Ricky Gervais in Extras).

If you're new to Stephen Chow, I recommend starting with Shaolin Soccer, his masterpiece. Then move on to The God of Cookery, King of Comedy and From Beijing With Love. Only then check out the somewhat more jaded Kung Fu Hustle. Then you can move on to the 50+ films he's been in since the early 80s (like Royal Tramp and God of Gamblers 2). Chow is one of a kind, a national treasure, and everyone should have at least a couple of his films in their collection.

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