Jun 30, 2014

Review: Hei kek ji wong [King of Comedy] (1999)

Stephen Chow has a pretty unique brand of comedy that he's used in his films. I think the easiest way to sum it up is a combination of ridiculous imagery and slapstick comedy. On the surface it might seem crude but Chow's films have a way of charming the audience with just how well this mix goes. It's a successful marriage once again in King of Comedy except that this time, Chow adds a bit of drama and romance to the equation.

Chow co-directs, is part of the writing team and stars in King of Comedy. He's the kind of actor who's just naturally funny and his character in this film is put into all sorts of ridiculous situations like lampooning Hong Kong action movies, coaching would be Triads or fighting over lunch boxes for cast members at a shoot. You can find Stephen Chow's fingerprints all over King of Comedy and I mean that in the best possible way.


Genre: comedy, drama, romance
Directed by: Stephen Chow, Lik-Chi Lee
Produced by: Kwok-fai Yeung
Written by: Stephen Chow, Min Hun Fung, Erica Lee, etc.
Music by: Daisuke Hinata, Ying-Wah Wong
Running time: 85 minutes
Production company: Star Overseas
Distributed by: Newport Entertaiment, Art Port, Long Shong Entertainment Group
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese, Mandarin
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Stephen Chow, Karen Mok, Cecilia Cheung, Min Hun Fung, Ng Man-Tat, Jackie Chan, Lee Siu-kei, Joe Cheng, Cheng Man-Fai, Clarence Hui, Johnson Lee, Robert Sparks, Kai Man Tin




Wan Tin-sau (Stephen Chow) runs a community center but aspires to much more. He's huge into acting, knows a ton of theory about it but he can't get anything better than being a lowly extra in films. His attempts at spicing up his performances to catch the eye of people of importance never seem to work and just get him in trouble. Lau Piu-Piu (Cecilia Cheung) who is a local club girl believes in him though after he gives her a couple tips. Can Tin-Sau actually break through or is he doomed to asking grannies to come see his play?


Chow's character never lets up an opportunity to display his acting talent. Everything in the world to him involves acting and that puts him in a few questionable positions. He's all the same a stand up guy and he does want to do the right thing. He's a bit of a buffoon but totally likeable and easy to root for. 

The laughs in King of Comedy are well spread out with a few instances of drama and romance. The slapstick never goes overboard  and Chow's skill at injecting that ridiculous, unexpected imagery is well showcased. Chow mixes it up with either what could just be a run-of-the-mill scene that has something silly happening in the background or else it's an in-your-face kind of thing going on so the comedy is definitely varied. 

I indeed laughed out loud on a couple of occasions during King of Comedy. On maybe two or three occasions though, I did feel like there was some sort of cultural barrier that prevented me from finding some things funny but that was pretty rare. Definitely nothing that ruined the experience. There's just a whole bunch of gags that anyone can appreciate like blatant product placement and the use of ridiculous arc shots. Pigeons too! For the mood you know. 

It is said that King of Comedy is slightly based off of Stephen Chow's early struggles to get into cinema. He himself was a temporary actor until he broke into Hong Kong cinema. An amusing Jackie Chan cameo highlights this as he himself was a stuntman to start off his career. There's just lots to like about KoC. If you feel like seeing the sheer ridiculousness of Chow poking the genitals of a young naked boy, I really do recommend this title. 



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