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Wai Man Yip
Anthony Chau-Sang Wong
A thoroughly entertaining and uproariously funny superhero action-comedy that is a genuine comedic treat this Chinese New Year
Clearly inspired by the Disney/ Pixar animation "The Incredibles", Hong Kong funnyman Vincent Kok's latest film "Mr and Mrs Incredible" follows a similar story arc in sketching the ordinary lives of two extraordinary people- or retired superheroes, to be more precise. They are the debonair Gazer Warrior (Louis Koo), whose superpower as his name suggests is his laser-like gaze, and the delightful Aroma Warrior (Sandra Ng), whose superpower as her name suggests is her beguiling aroma.
Married for close to ten years now, Gazer and Aroma Warrior are now enjoying anonymity as Huan and Red respectively in the secluded Rainbow Village. How secluded is it really? Well, an utterly hilarious opening sequence tells of how it takes one month for the newspaper to be delivered from the capital to the village- by then even "new news" is already "old news", Huan remarks.
While Huan spends his time reading the "old newspaper" for his fellow illiterate villagers, Red runs a humble restaurant where a trio of plump middle-aged gossip-monger ladies spend their time extolling their plus- sizes and criticising Red's svelte figure. The monotony of their lives has taken its toll on their marriage, most prominently their sexual drive and by extension their ability to conceive- despite their best attempts at trying to inject passion and excitement into their lives.
Like the husband-wife couple in "The Incredibles" therefore, Huan and Red continue to look back with fond memories on the extraordinary crime- fighting days. Life hasn't been much of a kick (pun intended) anymore compared to the past, the latter of which we get a glimpse of through an extended flashback. This consists of an OTT but laugh-out-loud sequence where Gazer takes out four bank-robbing pest-robbers (I kid you not)- namely Ant, Cockroach, Devil Scorpion and Toad- and another amusing sequence where Aroma punishes an abusive husband (Chapman To in a cameo). Vincent Kok's script also takes the opportunity to poke fun at Hollywood's masked vigilante, Batman, by having Gazer adopt a deep, growling voice, a la Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne.
While the flashback boasts the kind of exaggerated slapstick which is signature of many Hong Kong's 'mo lei tau' comedies, Kok adopts a surprisingly low-key approach for most of the movie- whether in terms of physical or verbal comedy- when finding humour in the tedium of his characters' seemingly ordinary lives. Kok also eschews the frenetic pace often associated with his movies in favour of a more relaxed, easygoing and spontaneous style here- perhaps a deliberate influence of producer Peter Chan.
One good example of this is Huan and Red's visit with a real estate agent to a prospective house beside a picturesque lake. Rather than simply dash to the comedic punchlines, Kok spends more time on the buildup as Huan and Red devise methods to depreciate the price of the house- including pulling off a chunk of wall and crushing it to bits to deceive the agent into thinking that the house is made of inferior materials, and purposely causing a crack in the fireplace that runs right up to the chimney. While many Hong Kong comedies have tended to hurl its barrage of jokes relentlessly at its audience to largely hit- and-miss results, there is a distinct sense that the gags are much more calculated here, and indeed most of them are genuinely funny.
It's a pity then that less thought has been put into the story which largely remains stagnant until the last third of the movie, when a martial arts competition held in their village that turns out to be a sinister power-grabbing (literally) attempt forces Gazer and Aroma out of retirement mode. For a movie that's been relatively light on CGI for the most of its duration, its CG-packed finale may come as a bit of a surprise, but kudos to Vincent Kok for not over-doing the special effects, employing it judiciously enough for the dramatic climax.
Despite its shortcomings, "Mr and Mrs Incredible" remains an thoroughly entertaining, and uproariously funny superhero action-comedy. Louis Koo reveals a hidden gift for deadpan humour here as Gazer, and he shares a nice rapport with the ever-amusing Sandra Ng throughout the film. Of course, one may easily find fault for how derivative this may be of "The Incredibles" or even "Mr and Mrs Smith", but what it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for with a generous helping of wit and humour.
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