An Involving Story Can Not Offset Ever-Present Hong Kong Cinematic Fatuity.
When portly Smart (Kent Cheng), so named by others because he quaintly believes that he is the most intelligent person in Hong Kong, returns to his mother's, and his former, home in the New Territories following a three year stint as merchant seaman, he discovers that his former room has been rented to another man, a teacher, partly due to his mother's displeasure at her son's sudden decision to take maritime employment, resulting in Smart's homecoming being less than the pleasant one he had imagined, partly again because, although he had sent half of his wages home, he had not enclosed a letter with them during his absence, and only his sister shows him a welcoming attitude. She, played by Jaime Chik, reconciles mother and son, and before long energetic and outspoken Smart, whose own life now seems purposeless, interjects himself into the lives of others, notably their romantic relationships, but when the local council condemns his mother's home for its illegally constructed shop/café annex, the little family faces the necessity of erecting a new residence within an ordained six month period, yet without funds to do so. Mr. Hwang (Cheung Kwok Keung) the tenant, who has been befriended by Smart, proposes that the family convert their little shack into a short order restaurant, and Smart agrees, directing his initiative toward this transformation to raise an amount of money sufficient to build a new house at the same site, but difficulties appear when Smart's self-proclaimed expertise with matters of the heart is tested as he falls in love, while at the same time unwittingly offending their new restaurant's primary customers, students from a nearby school, thereby hindering progress for the family's economic recovery. Cheng, who also directs, effectively creates his role, causing a viewer to sympathise with his character despite his customary irascibility and, when the film avoids that abundance of silly physical humour that marks too many Hong Kong productions, it also benefits from emphasis upon detail. Unfortunately, the single takes required by a low budget result in many sequences being taken up with antic behaviour although there are as well some genuinely funny moments. Chiao Chiao, cast as Smart's opinionated mother, gives a nicely personalised performance as does Chik. Dubbing and synching from the spoken Mandarin are unevenly accomplished and often distractive, but available English language subtitles for the DVD version are above the Hong Kong standard, especially so for a film such as this with its prevalence of dialogue.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?