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Dragon Loaded 2003

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 03/30/2010

Some humor travels well, transcends national boundaries and language barriers while remaining funny. Other attempts at comedy are local and simply don’t work beyond their local area. A pratfall or a pie in the face doesn’t need words; Harold Lloyd hanging from the clock face in “Safety Last” or Jacques Tati delivering a kick to the well padded backside of an overbearing petit-bourgeois in “M. Hulot’s Holiday" will work in any language or none at all. There is a lot of this in “Dragon Loaded 2003”, none of it very memorable, for example when Ronald Cheng runs after a fleeing robber and winds up entangled in a bicycle rack.

Puns, plays on words or double entendres aren’t funny in any language other than the original. They are not only based on spoken words but are almost always ephemeral, rooted in the slang and idioms not only of their places but their times as well. We see this often in the Cantonese humor of Hong Kong movies where a word will be substituted for one that sounds like it but means something else entirely. “Dragon Loaded 2003” is full of riddles, most of which elicit groans or even anger the hearers but some are incomprehensible to that part of the audience who don’t understand Cantonese. An example is an exchange between Cheng and another character that involves the unpopularity of credit cards in Thailand. The answer seems to be a play on the word card in Thai as translated into Cantonese—or something like that. It is an instance in which one thinks “That might be funny” but doesn’t know if it is or not.

It is clear that Ronald Cheng wanted to take on the mantle of Stephen Chaiu, a mistake since it both detracted from the impact of this film and kept Cheng’s own comedic genius well hidden. He has excellent timing, is physically very limber and owns a mobile face and looks good in air hostess drag or while trading punches and kicks with a bad guy. Cheng does well given the limitations of the role and his approach to it. Helping is the strong cast of excellent comic actors that surround him including his buddies who are even more hapless than he. One of them, for example, wants to use a voodoo doll with the face of their cadet instructor pasted on to disable the instructor but only accomplishes harming himself when he sticks a pin through the doll and into this hand.

The reliable and almost always funny Eric Tsang is the commanding officer for Cheng and his two layabout fellow cadets. He puts Cheng in charge of the public toilet at police headquarters to embarrass him into quitting and does everything possible to thwart the romance between Chang and the lovely cadet trainee Stephy Ting, his daughter. The role for Miriam Yeung, a midlevel commander who winds up saddled with Cheng and friends, seems to be to look fetching in her police uniform which she does. Dang Chi-Fung, the exasperated to the point of insanity main training officer, has a number of predictable but still funny comic turns. Steven Fung as a recruiting officer manages to be credible while describing signing up for the Hong Kong Police as not that different from being impressed into the crew of the British Navy ship during the 18th century. Michelle Yim added a bit of mature sexy pizzaz as Eric Tsang’s wife. Jim Shu is a goofy and very inept kidnapper/drug dealer while Brian Ireland brings a pitch perfect sleaziness as the gwiello police commander.

There is a lot of talent on display in “Dragon Loaded 2003” but it never really comes together. Since it is trying to do the impossible—create a new Cantonese comic actor to fill the shoes of Stephen Chaiu—it misses what it could have been, a funny Hong Kong screwball comedy

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 01/16/2007
Summary: pretty funny

Comedian, writer, and actor Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu has had a pretty successful career in Hong Kong movies. After writing some films, he had an opportunity to direct a couple of movies that were well received at the box office. In 1999, he was handpicked by Jackie Chan to direct Gorgeous and he was able to save Jackie's credibility with the home crowd after his Hollywood jaunt. Next, he teamed up with Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung to help him start his directorial career with You Shoot, I Shoot [2001]. On his next project, he helped director Wilson Yip Wai-Shun get his career back on track with 2002 [2001].

Dragon Loaded 2003 features the thinking man's Sammy, Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei, in his first starring role. Kok and Cheng hit it off on the box office hit My Lucky Star earlier in the year where Cheng had a supporting role. Thanks to Kok's clever screenwriting, the movie was pretty funny in spite of Cheng's tiresome mugging and cross-dressing antics. The cast is quite good, featuring funnymen Cheung Tat-Ming and Sam Lee Chan-Sam. Those actors always make me laugh.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 06/28/2006
Summary: 6/10 - ok bit of HK comedy

Three spoilt rich kids are threatened with inheritance cut-off unless they can prove their worth to their dads by becoming "good cops". They reluctantly join the police academy but devote their energies entirely to getting dismissed... until one of them (Ronald Cheng) falls for a pretty young recruit of the opposite gender (Stephy Tang). Of course he wants to impress her by excelling as a policeman, but can a leopard change its spots?

The film is basically a vehicle for Ronald Cheng to make his bid for the "New Stephen Chiau" title (which several contenders have failed to claim over the years). His mannerisms and persona seem to be quite wilfully modeled on Sing Jai's, although he exaggerates too much - clearly trying to be wacky, where Chow makes even the most absurd things he does seem perfectly natural. He does have at least a shred of the charisma and charm that make the goofiness work though, even when playing a fundamentally quite unlikeable character... who we of course all know will redeem himself by the time the credits roll. The character arc is as cliched as the romantic conflict that drives it, but having a deep or original story is hardly the point of this sort of film - it's just something to hang the jokes together.

The humour ranges from the crude to the really crude, with an awful lot of literal toilet humour amidst general slapstick and buffoonery. As long as you don't try taking any of it seriously (e.g. expecting people to really act), there's some funny moments. The best of those are when scene-stealer Law Kar-Ying turns up, as usual. Jacky Cheung has a great cameo as well.

Although the film offers little that is surprising or new, and can't help inspiring thoughts of "Ah, if that had been Stephen Chow it would have been so much better/funnier", it's an easy and entertaining enough watch. Ronald Cheng doesn't have the star quality to truly claim the "New Stephen Chow" crown, but he's probably the best contender we've seen for it so far. Hidden Heroes (2005) was a more persuasive arguer of that case though.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 03/12/2005
Summary: Agree with magic 8

nothing special here, a few laughs but nothing hilarious!! In fact Ronald was quite annoying, he probably will be better than Nick Cheung in the long run but not at the moment as the KING OF COMEDY title must be pasted on to someone right??


Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 12/23/2003
Summary: Run-of-the-Mill Comedy

"Dragon Loaded" is a screwball comedy, written and directed by funny man Vincent Kok, starring Ronald Cheng. The movie presents Ronald as a spoiled, idle, rich son of a wealthy sporting goods company owner. He is given the ultimatum of entering the police academy or lose his rich inheritance. With so much at stake, he accepts and joins the police academy with his slacker sidekicks, Cheung Tat-Ming and Sam Lee.

Although "Dragon Loaded" proved to be a box office success, the movie resembles so many other assembly line comedies. Maybe audiences were comforted by something familiar, but Dragon Loaded was typical of the Hong Kong comedy genre. There are several amusing scenes but no laugh-out-loud moments.

Ronald Cheng plays a gabby, smarmy, inconsiderate police cadet who falls in love with fellow police recruit, Stephy Tang. Many of his methods to win Stephy's favor fall flat or are misinterpreted in his attempts to woo her.

Ronald Cheng's star seems to be on the rise, but his work in "Dragon Loaded" is all over the place. Due to the character's annoying qualities, the role didn't garner any sympathy. Cheng's portrayal was like the guest who overstayed his welcome. There are cameos by Miriam Yeung and Jacky Cheung, but their presence was minimal. If you're a fan of inane comedies, "Dragon Loaded" is right up your alley. If you are tired of the same old thing, then look elsewhere, because "Dragon Loaded" doesn't do much to tickle the funny bone.