BI (1993)
Flirting Scholar


Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 06/11/2012
Summary: fast-paced hilarity.

Hong Kong funnyman Stephen Chow stars as a scholar enamored with a servant girl, played by Gong Li, in this kung fu comedy that includes a blend of song-and-dance numbers, physical slapstick, martial arts battles and comic book surrealism. Swooning over the beautiful, sweet maiden, the scholar poses as a houseboy to get close to the object of his affection.

The film, directed by longtime Chow associate Lee Lik-Chi and co-written by Lee and comedy writer/director Vincent Kok, is fast-paced hilarity that really flows through the Cantonese jargon. If you are new to Hong Kong cinema, this may be a difficult watch. Seasoned viewers will likely love this movie especially if you are down with Chow's comedy styling. To me, this film is most important because it features, in a prominent supporting role, the lovely and talented comedy actress Kingdom Yuen who steals every scene in which she appears.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 02/27/2009

“Flirting Scholar” is a vulgar mess of a movie with a hackneyed plot, full of stereotypical characters and lowbrow humor. It seems determined to offend as many people and groups as possible. With a cast of talented comic actors and a scattershot, ribald script that derides and undermines the conventions of several film genres, “Flirting Scholar” is a funny movie in which everyone is having a good time and invites the audience to do the same.

There is a lot in its favor including the showdown between representatives of two film generations of action movie icons, Cheng Pei-Pei and Gordon Li, Frances Ng almost recognizable as one of Stephen Chow’s scholarly sidekicks and Nat Chan being earnestly lecherous, ably abetted by Kingdom Yuen. The top attractions, though, are Stephen Chow and Gong Li, both of whom do exactly what viewers and, one assumes, the director wanted. Gong Li looked as gorgeous as anyone possibly could, perfectly flawless and very sexy. Stephen Chow had plenty of time and space for his almost unique brand of slapstick inspired comedy.

The director and screenwriters went for the cheap laughs—the cheaper the better—so that Steven Chow not only had to clean up dog droppings but also had his hand stomped into them by a passing soldier. Lee Kin-Yan wasn’t just a big, ugly, bearded ladyboy robber but had his finger up his nose when Chow approached him. Kingdom Yuen looked like a clown who flunked the make-up class in clown school and Wah On’s two students were not only stupid but also deformed.

The first few scenes, unfortunately, are among the weakest which could cause viewers to abandon “Flirting Scholar” a few minutes in. Those who do haven’t missed anything special but those who stick around should have a good time

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: JohnR
Date: 03/04/2007
Summary: Worked For Me

After reading all the reviews here, it's obvious that comedy is in the eye of the beholder. Watching Flirting Scholar I beheld comedy.

This is one of my favorite Stephen Chow movies (ok, I confess, I think all of his are one of my favorites). SC is in fine form as the scholar saddled with eight beautiful but shallow wives who longs for someone to understand his soul. Enter Gong Li as a first tier maid in a family that hates SC's family. SC works his way into the household by ruse in order to get a shot at GL.

The jokes keep coming, only interrupted by some enjoyable kung fu fights, and the viewer has to hustle to keep up with everything. It's definitely low brow and repeatedly pokes conventional Chinese costume dramas in the eye. I thought it was great good fun, and with Gong Li thrown in how can you go wrong.

I guess you'll just have to watch it yourself to see which camp you fall into. I actually rank it as 7.5, but that's not an option on the drop down.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/07/2006

Stephen Chiau has inherited great kung-fu from his father, but his mother made him hide it to protect him from his father's enemies. His is, however, a master painter and poet, which has made him plenty of money and earned him 8 beautiful wives - but this hasn't made him happy. When he sees Gong Li he falls in love (who wouldn't?), and enrols as a servant in the house where she works, so that he can begin the seduction.

An excellent Chiau film with great comedy and some superb wire-based action scenes. The subtitles utterly fail to translate some of the humour (e.g. the poetry battle), but enough makes it through to still be a very entertaining watch.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 11/13/2005
Summary: Half and half

Stephen Chow's films fall into three categories :
1. All good
2. All bad
3. One half good, one half bad.
Flirting Scholar is in #3.

The first half is hilarious. Vintage Stephen Chow. Nat Chan being covered in ink and rolled around on paper was a killer, and the gags come thick and pretty fast ....... until the halfway mark, where the film falls flat, then struggles till the end. It is almost like two different movies back-to-back which just happen to have the same cast. On the plus side, the cinematography and set design are a joy to watch. Colourful and sumptuous to behold.

What really baffles me, more than the flat second half, is why this film is rated Category III (Adult). Apart from the obvious flippant point (i.e. nothing much Chow does on screen is EVER adult), I just can't see it. There's no nudity and not enough violence. The only clue seems to be Nat Chan in the opening scene. His clothes are ripped off and he's covered in ink. There are a few frames where he stands nearly full to the camera, but nothing is visible, and his nether regions are pixelled out (in blue !). Perhaps the original release was rated Cat III before the pixellation, and future copies had the C3 sticker kept on.

*shrug*

Anyway, a middling effort.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 02/18/2003

Everyone thinks Tang Buo Hu (Stephen Chow) is lucky for having 8 gorgeous wives. True, that has been the reputation, but these wives are the most obnoxious parasites you'll ever witness. Bored and discouraged, Tang seeks true love and finds Qiu Xiang (Gong Li) the perfect match. But who cares; there is a showdown between a deadly scholar and the Imperial Tutor's wife, and literally everyone gets involved.

The good news is that this movie features some of the best action in any Stephen Chow movie; the bad thing is that Leung Kar Yan does none. The humor is adequate, although it's not necessarily as funny as Royal Tramp or Fist of Fury 1991 part 2. Gong Li is gorgeous as usual.

If you are looking for a quality, fun Stephen Chow entertainer, this probably ain't it, but if your expectations are low, this might do it.

[7/10]


Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 03/29/2002
Summary: Looks good, but poor outcome

To be honest, I think the only thing that saved this film from being a complete waste, was the presence of Gong Li and the good backings for the film. Putting such a good actress in a film like this though is beyond logical thought. Other than that, this is a complete waste of time – unless you like Mo Lai To (garbage comedy). The first ‘ink’ scene is nonsense (that is not Ng Man Tat by the way as someone said, it’s Nat Chan), and that being just the beginning pretty much sums up what the rest of the film would be like.

Seems like only 4 reviewers liked this, and I would pretty much agree with Sydneyguy (except his rating). For Stephen Chow’s standards it’s bad, for comedy as a whole it’s terrible. The story could have been more interesting if the jokes (though not funny) were left out. I think in all honesty I laughed twice, which is a shame, because just a few years before this I thought he was very good – maybe I have just grown up. This one will be put at the bottom of a deep draw I think.

If it’s cheap jokes you want, then you might enjoy it, otherwise it’s a big miss.

Rating: 2/5

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 03/07/2002
Summary: Ok-ish

I didn't find this up to Chow's standard. I did have a few good laughs but they were few and far between. There is martial arts action to make up for the lack of laughs but still not one of his best.

6/10

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 01/03/2002

This is probably my favorite Stephen Chow picture. I am told this is based on a classic tale of a famous scholar (Stephen Chow) who infiltrates the household of an old enemy incognito to win the heart of a beautiful maid (played by Gong Li). Some of the setpieces here are the funniest thing you'll ever see, including Chow using a naked Ng Man-Tat for some body art painting, or a scene in which Chow competes with a beggar on who is the most miserable... With the exception of the poetry duel, the humour comes across very well, despite the poor subtitles. The movie also features Cheng Pei Pei (and yes, she does have a few fight scenes).

The fight scenes are well staged, there is lovely chemistry between Stephen and Gong Li (who visibly enjoys herself in this movie). All around, this is one of his best efforts.


Reviewed by: nomoretitanic
Date: 05/18/2001
Summary: More Mainstream

This is more of a family picture than I guess most of Chow's movies. It's got a little bit of everything for everyone. That's actually what bothered me. I didn't really care for the naked man calligraphy or the portrait of Chow that looks like a dog or whatnot. I expect Chow to be his crazy self but here we've got some lame jokes thanks to the writers whoever they are. But Chow is doing his very best in elevating the movie. You know he makes up his own lines because they're always much funnier than the rest of the movie. When he calls that dead cockroach "Johnny" or when he raps about his family tragedy.

This is possibly Chow's worst movie. Yet he's still so very funny and I still had a blast, especially all that literary duel stuff--too bad people who don't understand Chinese would have to put up with the WORST, THE WORST translation (if it's translation at all) ever. Only Chow can put these eloquent Chinese phrases and real graphic vulgar phrases in one sentence. That's what makes him a genius rather than a funny guy. I mean, anyone funny nowadays is a "genius". It's probably the most abused word in the world, especially in movie reviews. But, I'm gonna cross my line here today and declare Chow a genius. Yes I'm comparing him to Groucho Marx and Buster Keaton--not just Eddie Murphy or Mike Myers. I'm saying that if he were a scientist, he'd be in the same ball park as Hawkins and Einstein, I'm saying if he were a painter he'd be Michaelangelo. That's what Stephen Chow has done in comedy. Too bad Chinese comedies don't translate well overseas. So gwailos are still going to rush to their theaters for "Joe Dirt" and "Dude Where's My Car."
You don't even know what you're missing.

I think Stephen Chow is the best reason to learn Chinese.


Reviewed by: zarrsadus
Date: 04/29/2001

More Stephen Chow comedy in the same tone as his other movies. I thought everything was well done in this movie and the comedy had me really laughing a lot. My favorite aspect of this film was the Kung Fu scenes in which both Chow and Pei perform wonderfully while not being serious about it, the duel while inspecting the painting was probably my favorite scene, both Chow and Pei fight by doing incredible acrobatics and techniques while all the while pretending to onlookers that they are judging the painting. 8 out of 10.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: hellboy
Date: 09/15/2000

A good Mo Lai Tau for people who don't like HK comedies and one of Stephen Chow's best. A little kung-fu action thrown in too! Look for old school greats Gordon Lau as the Evil Scholar and Cheng Pei Pei as the matriarch of the house, they even end up briefly facing off against each other. Take it too seriously and you'll be missing the point. FS also includes the "legendary" 4 Perverted Heroes, who I think should be given their own feature film. 9/10

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: MadMonkey
Date: 12/09/1999

Okay, it's Gong Li and Stephen Chow--together again. This time, Chow's an eminent member of the literati back in period-costume China, married to a gang of good-for-nothing wives but enamored of a beautiful serving girl (Li). Some funny scenes, particularly one in which Chow goes toe-to-toe with a fellow suitor in a who's-more-pathetic contest, but inconsistent. The ending is kinda predictable, too. Low humor enthusiasts will like some of the goofin', though.

(3/5)

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

Stephen Chow plays a painter/calligrapher/poet who is "bored with his many wives who spend all day playing Mah Johngg and have no appreciation for his work. He sees Gong Li's character one day and falls in love with her. To get closer to her, he sells himself as a servant to her family. The matriarch of this family turns out to be an old enemy of *his* family, resulting in much trouble for Stephen Chow's character. One of the better Stephen Chow movies I've seen.


Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Stephen Chieu plays the Ming Dynasty's legendarypoet/artist/musician Tong Pak Fu, who can't seem to find true love despite having eight wives. Things change when he catches sight of winsome, available Chen Heung (Gong Li). Although the rivalry between their families prohibits romance, Tong Pak Fu secretly becomes a servant in their household order to court her, and after vanquishing the Four Perverted Scholars and King Ning's hit man, his happy future is assured. Amusing sight-gags are always on the burner.

(3/4)



[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 7