King of Comedy (1999)
Reviewed by: j.crawford on 2005-07-25
Summary: a mixed bag yields so-so results
[1999 was a good year.] King of Comedy presents a mixed bag of comedy, pathos, and action with so-so results.

Stephen Chiau Sing Chi casts himself as Wan Tin Sau, a lowly and long suffering civil servant with dreams of big success as a Movie Star. Wan struggles doing extra work in HK film business and, even though he's a first class bungler, manages to move up to bit parts and stunt work.

Wan works as the attendent of the community recreation center where his mundane job consists of handing out ping pong paddles and monitoring pool tables. To satisfy his artistic cravings, he runs a theatre workshop teaching the locals acting techniques.

Ng Man Tat plays the Unit Manager of the film company Wan is working for. Each time Wan gets tossed for screwing up, he must try to get his daily meal from the UM whose main duty on the film appears to be guarding the all important boxed lunch!

Karen Mok Man Wai plays a big Actress/Producer of the film within the film. She is great! Chiau Sing Chi the filmmaker shoots Mok with a very gentle, loving eye, even when she's exposed as THE bitch from hell.

One part of the film is major spoof of Hong Kong movie industry, its movies, and its stars. When Tin Sau finally gets his big break as a leading man, he tells his producers that he has decided that his English name will be 'Number' as in Number Wan. Get it?

Another part of the film is very dark. Chiau Sing Chi changes the tone of the movie when he introduces the character of Piu Piu played by Cecilia Cheung Pak Chi. From a troubled background, "club girl" Piu Piu is unsuccessful hustling drinks and cash from patrons at the nightclub where she works.

Her boss takes Piu Piu and other girls from the club to Wan's drama school to learn 'acting skills' to help their performances at work. Wan and Piu Piu begin a relationship that follows a rocky path, exposing both to the unseemly underside of life.

copyright 1999 J. Crawford
Reviewer Score: 8