The Lord of Hangzhou (1998)
Reviewed by: wyeeso on 2012-04-03
Summary: A long, rough trip to royality
[Plot: 3/5]
An unknown source once said that "The Lord of Hangzhou" is an adaptation of a side story found in the unofficially recorded history based on Qinglong's voyage to the south. Unfortunately, I can't find any other reliable sources to back this rumor up, and I can't compare and contrast the adaptation and the side story.
Anyways, the story is about Qinglong Emperor (played by Waise Lee) and his sister Bi Yue (played by Gong Bei-Bi) traveling down to Hangzhou for a vacation, and at there they befriend Mei Chi (played by Gardner Tse) and his loyal servant Mei An (played by Power Chan). Following the first appearance of Mei Chi, the audiences begin to learn what type of person he is. First, we see Mei Chi as a prodigal who loves to study martial arts and hates to take care of his family business. Then later on, we also find out he loves to help his friends and others by offering them his kindness and his wealth. However, as a result of his generosity, all his wealth and property are eventually cheated out of him by his greedy friends.
Although Mei Chi has been greatly betrayed by his friends and gets kicked out of Hangzhou, it's good to see that he's still willing to trust and rely on his huckleberry friend, Mei An. Once they begin their year-long trip to find Qinglong and his sister, who they have no idea they're the emperor and the princess, the depiction of their friendship becomes really touchy and enjoyable, especially when it is shown that none of them will ever give up on each other no matter what. So together, they have both gone through a series of hardships and have learned what's it like to be near death, live poorly, eat cheap food, take care of a new-born baby, and become a beggar. From all of these experiences, Mei Chi has finally learned to become a responsible individual. Yet, the idea of responsibility is weakly portrayed in the story since we don't really see much examples of Mei Chi taking responsibility during his trip and after. The only example that's been demonstrated is after he helps to take care of a baby girl, he teaches her irresponsible mother about the importance of responsibility.
Well, the story ends with absolutely no surprises when Mei Chi finally catches up to Qinglong, because we know that Qinglong will grant him as the lord of Hangzhou, which allows him to marry the princess, go back to Hangzhou and seek his revenge. Yup, looks like Mei Chi finally gets a good reward for going through some hardships, even though he would have become the lord anyway with or without going through what he has to for the past year. Oh well, I guess the story is trying to say he's gonna become a better lord than he would have been since he's gone through a lot, but I wish there's an even bigger and apparent change on his character for contrast.

[Actors: 3.5/5]
Both Gardner Tse and Power Chan are graduated from The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and have been previously nominated for different films in various award ceremonies, so there's no doubt they're some great actors that can incorporate their emotions and body language quite well. It's also good to see that both of them get to deliver some funny lines and bring in some humorous effect to the film. Nevertheless, it's always hard to enjoy their acting when their voice doesn't match with the movement of their mouth (will talk about it a bit more in the Production Crew section).

[The Production Crew:]
I guess there're two reasons why the actors' voice was dubbed with their own voice (that means the HK actors still have their own voice for the production, but their voice doesn't match with the movement of their mouth). One is the actors were speaking Mandarin during shooting; therefore, when getting ready to show the film to the HK audiences, the HK actors were asked to replace their Mandarin dialogues with Cantonese dialogues during post-production. Two is the actors' voice wasn't properly recorded during shooting, so the HK actors had to speak out the lines again during dubbing. Well, whichever reason it is (or is not), the post-production on the dubbing has done a really, really bad job.
As for the costume design, the costume and hairstyle for the princess doesn't appear to be that grand, but I guess the director wanted to keep it close to reality.

[Memorable scene(s):]
I'm surprised a film like this would make a reference to baby Jesus, Mary, and the Shepard/Joseph. The scene is like this: Mei Chi, Mei An and a baby girl are inside a stable. While the baby girl is laid on top of the hay, Mei An, who has a blanket over his head like a kerchief, kneels down before her, and beside him is Mei Chi, who's up at the sky as the stars shine. Quite a funny moment!
Another quite funny scene is when Mei Chi thought that Mei An has died from sickness and is ready to bury him, Mei An suddenly wakes up and says: "Master, I'm not dead yet." Then Mei Chi quickly takes him out of his grave.

[Worth Watching A Second Time?]
Although it's easy to guess the plot, and the dubbing is not too good, I still enjoy the depiction of Mei Chi and Mei An's friendship. Also, they have some funny scenes and dialogues to make the film more comical, so I guess it's recommended to watch the film once and again.
Reviewer Score: 6