The Spy Dad (2003)

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 08/26/2007
Summary: Same formula but mixed results

It looks like Wong Jing is finally returning to the old formula of which he is the master. Stunning pieces of flashy entertainment like God Of Gamblers Return, High Risk and City Hunter show what Jing is capable of.

With The Spy Dad, he's up to his old tricks. There are gags aplenty, wacky stuff all over the place. But unlike GOGR et al, things are hit and miss. It felt like watching a master chef, confidently using the right ingredients, but not quite getting the method right. Some of the flat spots, where he tries to get laughs, fall very flat indeed.

However, there is plenty to like. An actor no-one else has mentioned is Meme Tian, who looks like a young Joey Wong. Jing gave her a tough fighting fem part, and she really shines. And the galaxy of well-known talent is awesome. I'll watch anything which features Big Tony and the ever-reliable Elvis Tsui, and they give their all. And Jordan Chan as the spy who gets dumbed down to a four year old is a scream.

Overall, as long as you don't expect the same brilliance as Wong Jing had in the early 90s, this one is a fun romp.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 10/06/2006
Summary: Entertaining Comedy

This is a very entertaining comedy by master filmmaker Wong Jing. While the film's advertising spins The Spy Dad as a spoof of the popular Robert Rodriquez family films, it's got all the usual features that you would expect from Mr. Wong, though the humor is a bit more high-brow than some of his other comedies. Tony Leung Ka-Fai stars as a Hong Kong movie star who can't quite live up to his "on-screen" personas.

The plot's lunacy features Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Elvis Tsui Kam-Kong, and Eric Kot Man-Fai as high-tech spy vs. spy characters. Gillian Chung Yan-Tung plays it cute as Mr. Leung's daughter who is trying to get him to reconcile with her mom [Candice Yu On-On]. Look for the real star of Men Suddenly in Black (2003), veteran actress Teresa Mo Sun-Kwan, as she does more great comedic work in this film.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/08/2006

I rented THE SPY DAD because I just couldn't resist Leung Ka Fai in a spoof spy movie w/ Gillian, and I'm glad I did! Yes, it's a very stupid movie that wanders between incoherence and inanity, but there's enough moments of greatness to make it worth watching once. Very hit and miss, but the kind of stupid random film that you could only get from Hong Kong, and who doesn't need one of those in their diet once in a while? :)

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/17/2005

The Spy Dad is a fun movie, but it lacks that special spark most of Wong Jing's better films have had. In many ways, it is one of his strongest efforts -- the movie looks great and actually has a somewhat plausible storyline that's easy to follow. But as a longtime fan of Wong's work, I frankly missed the toilet humor and ultra-violence which are his trademarks. Even though there is nothing really wrong with The Spy Dad, it does feel more than a bit watered-down. Obviously, Wong was going for more of a mass-market appeal with this picture, and unfortunately, it doesn't fully work out.

The story has Tony Leung Ka-Fai (the "other" Tony, which is the premise of some of the jokes in the film) as an action star named James Bon who's tough on screen, but a wimp in real life, which is why his wife (Candice Yu) left him. Jordan Chan plays a Interpol agent who is trying to get two viruses from terrorists played by Elvis Tsui and Eric Kwok. During his attempt to get the chemicals, Jordan accidentally inhales one which makes him act like a four-year-old and ends up in Tony's backyard. Tony must try and get rid of the agent while keeping his daughter (Gillian Chung) "safe" from a potential suitor (Edison Chen), downplaying the advances of his assistant (Teresa Mo), keeping his amnesiac brother-in-law (Chapman To) safe, as well as negotating a part in a big new production starring his ex-wife.

Like I said before, there's nothing all that wrong with The Spy Dad. Some of the jokes (particularly the running one about Tony being in Infernal Affairs) are funny, the action (most of which parodies films like The Matrix and Enter the Dragon) is well-done, and there is some definite nice eye candy from the leads. But nothing really seems to click. For most of its' running time, The Spy Dad just seems to be going through the motions and playing it safe.

Even though The Spy Dad is a good movie, there's really not that much to seperate it from legions of other similar Hong Kong comedies. There's lots of slapstick, Cantonese puns, pop-culture references, and high-flying action. All of it is done well, but, again, it just feels like we've all been down this road many times before. I might be getting a little more nit-picky, but after seeing dozens of half-ass efforts from both sides of the ocean last year, it's going to take something more special than this to make me stand up and take notice.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/22/2005
Summary: Yikes

Starts off well, falls apart as it goes on. I think my father enjoyed this movie but not me!! You do get a few laughs but overall pretty boring with a predictable ending. The only good thing about it is Eric KOt, i just love the look of his character!!


Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 12/22/2003
Summary: Ouch!

Wong Jing returns to comedy following the wonderfully entertaining "Colour of the Truth" with "Spy Dad." Since its a movie that features one of the Twins, namely Gillian Chung, you can expect it to be family oriented. Wong Jing has been a master at lampooning films and satirizing current fads and trends. In "Spy Dad" Wong Jing's comedy is outdated and lacking. The work seems to have been written on the back of a napkin and produced at breakneck speed, with a squeaky clean disposition. Gone is the once famous lowbrow, bathroom-type humor, replaced with some cute and benign blandness.

Reviewed by: zarrsadus
Date: 12/12/2003
Summary: Funny Pop Culture Movie

Wong Jing directs another great comedy. I've loved his previous movies and this pop-comedy does not dissapoint. The movie had me laughing out loud (literally) on more than a few occassions.
Now that HKMDB has a summary on the main page you can just read that for more info on the plot. But the shorter summary is: this movie follows an actor who is a coward in real life but must become a hero like he plays in the movies to win back his former wife.

The best part of this movie are the parodies and pop culture references throughout the movie. The Matrix spoof scene in the beginning was hilarious. Also you'll see references to Infernal Affairs, Enter the Dragon, Conmen in Vegas, and many other movies. If you've seen any of the blockbuster movies of the past year you'll be laughing at so many scenes. Luckily this movie doesn't rely solely on it's pop culture catch and has plenty of other comedy such as the "regression virus" which makes people act like 4 year olds.

Recommended 8/10

Reviewer Score: 8