Golden Chicken 2
Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei
Chinese Title: Gam gai 2
Director: Samson Chiu Leong Chun
Writing Credits: Samson Chiu Leong Chun, Matt Chow
Cast: Sandra Ng Kwan Yue, Jacky Cheung, Leon Lai, Andy Lau, Ronald Cheng, Dicky Cheung, Angelica Lee
Country: Hong Kong
Year Released: 2003
Runtime: 102 min
Rating: ** ½ (out of four stars)
The Hong Kong film industry has never been able to exercise restraint, particularly to cash in on box office successes. Little wonder, then, that a sequel to one of the best HK movies of last year, Golden Chicken, was churned out in less than twelve months. To say that Golden Chicken 2 is a superfluous sequel is merely stating the obvious, but even such a film can be good, as long as its entertaining enough. However, Golden Chicken 2 barely passes muster Eits incoherently filmed and simply doesnt have enough to say to justify its running time. However, Sandra Ngs performance (her first won her the Golden Horse for Best Actress late last year) is still quite good, and its her alone that helps keep the movie relatively above water. Most of the time, anyway.
Its the year 2046, and Hong Kong has become a prosperous, technologically advanced city, where everyone dresses in white and memories can be wiped simply by popping a pill. Ah Kum (Sandra Ng), the feisty woman that we saw in Golden Chicken, is now over 80 years old, and has left her prostituting days far behind. She chances upon a young man (Chapman To) attempting to erase his memory die to a bad breakup, and starts telling him her life story to stop him from doing something so foolish.
The story then flashes back to two periods in Ah Kums life Ethe first is set in 2003, where Ah Kum has to deal with a man (Ronald Cheng) who has been obsessed with body hair since his wife left him, and also befriend a doctor (Leon Lai) whose life has been affected by the outbreak of the SARS epidemic. The other period is that of the 1980s, where Ah Kum recounts the bittersweet romance between herself and her cousin, Sunny (Jacky Cheung), a man who seems obsessed with making money above all else.
The first film successfully married Ah Kums life story and resilience with the history of Hong Kongs development over the decades, but this could obviously not be repeated a second time. Hence, all director Samson Chui has to work with this time is the SARS outbreak, which really isnt enough material for half a movie. It also doesnt help that two of the three subplots dont really impress, in particular the one with the hair obsession coming across as very contrived and forced. There also seems to be a narrative gap, as a lot of plot threads feel unresolved at the end of the movie Epaving the way for Golden Chicken 3? I have reasons to suspect that is probably the case.
Although Golden Chicken 2s narrative has its flaws, it also has its redeeming points. There are still some sentimental moments in the film, and these are the scenes where Sandra Ngs acting skills really have a chance to shine. We may all be familiar with her slapstick performances, but in recent years Sandra Ng has shown an increasing propensity toward roles that require some dramatic acting talent. Ah Kum is a good mix of both, and even in the confines of a weak plot, she manages to acquit herself. The rest of the performances range from good (Jacky Cheung fleshes out his character well although I could have done without the squeaky voice he adopted) to plain mediocre (Ronald Cheng). The humour in Golden Chicken 2 is also not as consistent as the first movie, and whilst it does provide belly laughs sporadically (Dicky Cheungs cameo is a blast), much of the humour is pretty limp. Its thus plain to see that this sequel exists only because the first film made money, and one can only hope that there wont be a Golden Chicken 3, which would presumably be even less palatable than this film.
Final Word: Doesnt come close to the original, but Golden Chicken 2 is an okay diversion if you have two hours to spare.