The Tricky Master (1999)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-10-03
Summary: Not that tricky
It seems that the most important aspect of filmmaking to Wong Jing, at least in movies that he both writes and directs, is length. “Tricky Master” hits the 90 minute mark just as the final credits are ending so that feature is taken care of. It lacks what Wong Jing written, directed and produced works generally lack: plot, character development, interesting cinematography, memorable performances. But Wong throws so much at the screen—very broad satire, beautiful women, gunfights, kung fu, ridiculous situations, local color, constant references to other movies and frenetic pacing—that there are enough laughs to keep one watching. The usual quota of vomit jokes, excrement jokes and shoe licking jokes is met. The editor (credited to Marko Mak at IMDB) did a good enough job of putting the scenes together so that there were enough laughs to offset the groans.

Kelly Lin is gorgeous—the camera absolutely loves her and she holds her own when onscreen with some very adept scene stealers, quite an accomplishment for an actress in one of her first (if not her very first) movie roles. While this is most definitely not a Stephen Chow movie he is excellent in the scenes in which he appears. He is in a substantial fraction of the movie and even though he essentially plays Stephen Chow, that is what his fans, of which I am one, are happy with. One of the great things about Hong Kong cinema is that actors who with substantial followings—stars, in other words—often take less than major parts in movies and still deliver good performances.

At this point in his career Nick Cheung was not a capable comic actor—he just isn’t funny. Everything about him—his timing, his look, even the way he stands—shows someone saying the lines, following the blocking and trying to be funny. The effort is obvious which is the death knell of comedy. Sandra Ng, on the other hand, is allowed to underplay the role of Wasabi. For some she is more than occasionally like fingernails on a blackboard but here she has funny scenes that she plays with almost perfect pitch. One in particular, when she greets her husband (Chow) who is just out of prison, is very well done by everyone. She starts by being kicked across the room by one of her husband’s bodyguards, who don’t allow anyone to touch him. The scene ends with her giving Chow a big welcome kiss—but only by kissing a bodyguard who then passes the smooch along to his boss. Suki Kwan is a very attractive woman and a movie actress of significant range—she can play funny and sexy, such as in this movie or dramatic and a bit demented which she did in “Victim” and do it all quite well.

Wong Jing looks like he is having a great time as crime boss Ferrari.

Reviewer Score: 6