Sunday, August 2, 2020

Movie Review - A Choo (打喷嚏/不倒侠) (2020)


It’s hard to talk about A Choo without mentioning about the film’s 6-year release date delay. Originally this movie was about to be released in 2014, but was held back because of lead actor Kai Ko’s drug bust. Then it was announced to be released in 2017, but was delayed again, and it’s final 2020 release date had some minor hiccups again because of the recent pandemic. So now, we are at a time where movie theatres around the world are slowly re-opening, and we finally have some theatrical releases to look forward to, and it’s remarkable that this film, having been 6 years in limbo, is finally being released at all. Unfortunately, although there’s some fun to be had with this eastern comic book-esque rom-com, there’s not a lot that is very memorable in this film that will satisfy everyone’s expectations after this very long wait.

The movie’s backstory revolves around a superhero Flash (Louis Koo) whose attempt to save the world from the big baddie Dr Cube (Vanness Wu) caused a disastrous explosion that orphaned our main leads EJ (Kai Ko) and Hsin Hsin (Ariel Lin). The two get infatuated with each other in an orphanage. The film’s name actually comes from the fact that Hsin Hsin will sneeze when she misses EJ (or the other way round, it’s kinda unclear), which the film likes to think of as her……superpower?

Hsin Hsin remarks one day that she like “brave men” which was EJ’s motivation to be a mixed martial arts fighter years later when he and his friend finally come out of the orphanage. Unfortunately, by this time Hsin Hsin already has a boyfriend, whom we later find out is also secretly a superhero, whom Dr Cube would later also have a beef with.

This film was based on a novel by Giddens Ko, who also produced this film, and also written and directed the popular 2011 rom-com You Are the Apple of My Eye (那些年,我們一起追的女孩). For me, other than the fact that this was another Giddens Ko story which also stars Kai Ko, and I enjoyed Apple quite a bit despite rom-coms not being my favourite genre, I’m not a large follower of many of the main cast, which, in a weird way, allows me to look at the film without much preconceived notions about the main cast, like the fact that Wang Ta Lu, who plays as EJ’s friend, apparently has large breakout roles with shows after he made this then-unreleased movie, or the fact that Kate Tsui, who has a small role in this, has recently retired from showbiz. And on its own, this movie was fairly entertaining, and I did enjoy it while I was watching it. Kai Ko and Ariel Lin had good, if not outstanding chemistry throughout the film, and I did laugh at some of the humour it was going for. Louis Koo’s supporting role as the shamed superhero who is unwilling to save the world again because of his guilt is surprisingly more sympathetic that I expected.

However, if you’re a fan of Giddens Ko’s work, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that a lot of the things this movie does, especially the romance elements, has been done better in Apple. This movie also doesn’t really have much surprises other than the very end, which I will talk a little bit about later. The core of the romance between EJ and Hsin Hsin, is actually kinda shallow if you think about it. EJ is trying so hard to be “brave” to win Hsin Hsin over just because of something that Hsin Hsin said when they were childhood friends. The thing is, this child-like concept of romance is relatable when they were kids, but we all know that in real life they would grow out of it when they are older, even in this superhero world. But they don’t, which really strains the believability of all of it, and makes the romance much less interesting for older audiences.

Wang Ta Lu’s character as EJ’s friend also doesn’t have much to do throughout the film, and you kinda forgot about him until the film’s climax. Vanness Wu as the main supervillain is kinda one-dimensional and barely even focused on at all. But when he does actually show up on screen, his overacting really grates on my nerves. I’m just glad that I didn’t have to watch a lot of it. Or maybe you do want to watch more of it, depending on your point of view, to have at least something to stick with you, as the film really doesn’t have much else that’s memorable. In fact, writing this review about two days after watching it, I am struggling to even remember what was the actual plot of the movie, or even having seen it.

So this being a comic book action flick mixed with a fighting movie in the vein of Rocky Balboa, we gotta talk about the action scenes. When it comes to the scenes with EJ in the ring, I guess they’re ok, with some rather amusing shots of EJ getting punched in the face again and again, to show his tolerance of pain, which the film apparently depicts as his “superpower”. I don’t know, it’s just as confusing as Hsin Hsin’s sneezing superpower. However, when it comes to the superhero battle scenes, of which there are maybe like two, they are so choppily shot and edited that it’s hard to follow the action. The CG effects are nowhere near great, but they are serviceable, and it’s what you would expect for a film of this budget (and age).

The following paragraph will talk about the ending vaguely, but if you are sensitive to spoilers feel free to skip ahead.

When it all comes down to the climatic conclusion, I’m actually pleasantly surprised that the film went with a sombre ending that I feel fits with the story arc of EJ. My real complaint is that the film does this ham-fisted voice-over/montage to make it seem that every tiny little event leading up to this conclusion is tied to fate, which just felt forced. I also wished that there was a little short epilogue to follow up with it as the ending felt a little rushed and abrupt, and so it feels a little unsatisfying as a result.


From my perspective, even with its unusual protracted release date in mind, this may not be the movie to rush out to see after so many months of movie theatre closure. But let’s face the facts, no review is really going to stop Gidden Ko fans from watching this movie, as they have understandably waited a very long time for it. But if you’re going in expecting the same exciting feeling you got after watching Apple, then you will leave the theatre very disappointed. So you really have to manage your expectations before going in. For me, the movie had problems with its story as well as it’s execution of its comic book action scenes, and overall, it just isn’t very memorable. But at the same time, I did enjoy and had fun with it while I was watching it. So hardcore Gidden Ko fans will definitely watch this in cinemas regardless of reviews, but for everyone else, it would probably be a better recommendation to rent it later or wait for it to come to streaming and VOD.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.