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大佬愛美麗 (2004)
Enter the Phoenix

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 01/27/2009
Summary: ash tray...

georgie (daniel wu) is a successful chef, living in thailand. he's also gay and, since having been sent to boarding school many years ago, has never returned to his native hong kong. georgie's father, first brother (yuen biao), on his deathbed, instructs his right hand man, master eight (law kar-ying), and his son, kin (chapman to), to find his son and bring him to hong kong. first brother is he head of a triad family and wants his son to take over from him...

master eight and kin arrive in thailand, just as first brother dies, but they soon find georgie and talk him into coming back to hong kong to be their big brother. although, they've actually found sam (eason chen), georgie's (straight) flatmate, who fancies living as a big brother for a while, with georgie assuming the role of sam; georgie's boyfriend...

hmm, this sounds more complicated than it actually is. however, complications arise when, upon returning to hong kong for first brother's funeral, a member of a rival gang, cheng chow (stephen fung), makes it clear that he is ready to wage war.

well, i've had this dvd for ages, but couldn't get the subs to work. still, after some jiggery-pokery, i got them working. woo!

as a directorial debut for stephen fung, things are a bit uneven and he tries to cram an awful lot in. mixing a cast of youngsters, old-timers and some notable cameos, the film is just as jumbled in content: there's touches of drama, romance and some action, although it is predominantly a comedy. there's times when things don't quite work and styles clash, but it made me laugh and kept me well entertained for its duration...

chen, to, law and mok, who plays the daughter of another triad boss, all have their moments, with to and law making a pretty good, comedic, father and son team. however, as you might imagine, wu is the real star here.

gay men are not usually treated too well in hong kong cinema; but credit must go to fung, his co-writers and daniel wu, for creating a gay man in hong kong cinema, who is a well-rounded individual, pouring cold water on past, more cringe-worthy characters. still, that's not to say that there's not moments which aren't as progressive, but these are few and their silliness is further highlighted by wu's presence.

not a great film, but a good watch, which is a lot of fun.

Reviewed by: calros
Date: 08/12/2008
Summary: Bad comedy.

Only 2 fine gags, the other are embarrassing and/or bored gags. The rest of the movie is trash. Ah! and the action sequences are uninspired and/or bored.

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 01/09/2006
Summary: Delightful

Stephen Fung directs! That's certainly something that I never expected from back in the day. He acted in several films with Nic Tse and Sam Lee, and I always thought his acting was a notch below the others. However, his direction here is quite good; although there's nothing particularly new, it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Libretio
Date: 10/15/2005
Summary: Comedy-drama with gay twist


Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Super 35)
Sound format: Dolby Digital

Teen idol Stephen Fung directed and co-wrote this frothy nonsense - his first solo directorial effort - in which the conventions of 'Triad cinema' are basically turned on their head. Unsurprisingly, Fung tapped Daniel Wu for the leading role, not only because they began their careers together as co-stars in BISHONEN (1998) and have been paired in numerous movies since (including GEN-X COPS [1999] and DEVIL FACE, ANGEL HEART [2002]), but also because Wu is one of the few topline actors in Hong Kong willing to take risks with his screen persona, even in something as innocuous as ENTER THE PHOENIX. Here, he plays a young gay man forging a successful career in Thailand after being exiled many years earlier by his estranged father (screen legend Yuen Biao), the head of a wealthy triad organization. When Yuen dies, his minions (represented by comic father-and-son duo Law Kar-ying and Chapman To) are ordered to retrieve the boy and establish him as head of the family business, but Law and To mistake Wu's straight roommate Eason Chan for Yuen's absent son, and Wu is happy to play along with the deception, until a childhood rival (played by Fung himself) emerges from the shadows to avenge his father's death at Yuen's hands...

This light-hearted romp touches all the necessary bases, but the results are decidedly mixed. Comedy is emphasized at the expense of drama and tension, and the narrative wanders from scene to scene, without apparent motive, taking a mixed cast of veterans and newcomers along for the ride: Fung and Wu are the nominal stars of the show, and both are fine in their respective roles, but Chan (currently one of HK's most popular lightweight actors) takes center stage as the Chow Yun-fat wannabe whose fantasies of a glamorous triad lifestyle are shot down in flames by the dangerous reality of life in the firing line. Industry stalwart Michael Chan plays a rival gangster who must preserve the status quo in the wake of Yuen's death, while comedy favorite Karen Mok essays the role of Michael Chan's daughter, a scatterbrained insurance employee who falls for Wu whilst struggling to emerge from her father's shadow (thankfully, this is one gay movie in which the heroine *doesn't* get her man!). Watch out for crowd-pleasing cameo appearances by Nicholas Tse (playing a character called 'Cock Head'!), Sam Lee and co-producer Jackie Chan.

Lavishly mounted on a blockbuster budget, the movie is wholly commercial in concept and execution, though the director's lack of confidence is betrayed by some rough edges, including fluffed linking shots and a tendency toward self-indulgence. Fung's lack of experience is further exposed during the various fight scenes (choreographed by action director Ma Yuk-sing), all of which are filmed and edited in a fluid, cinematic style at odds with the surrounding footage, and the rousing climax becomes a celebration of 'wire-fu' as Fung and Wu engage in hand-to-hand combat. In other departments, the wide frame (derived from a Super 35 negative) looks cramped and misaligned in places, and there's a surfeit of close-ups which minimizes the film's visual impact, though novice cinematographer Davy Chow is co-billed alongside veteran Poon Hang-sang (one of the finest DP's in Hong Kong movie history, an old-school technician whose luxurious compositions recall the Technicolor glamour of a bygone era), who was clearly responsible for some of the movie's most striking images, including a superbly rendered sequence in which Chan arrives at the ceremony where he'll be sworn-in as Yuen's successor, filmed in slow motion amidst a sea of umbrellas during a dramatic rainstorm. The film's 'gay' element is basically a red herring, used as comic relief for the most part, and while some of the material borders on crude stereotype, Wu himself plays the central character with great dignity, reaffirming his status as a gay icon. Ultimately, however, the movie is uneven and disappointing, though redeemed by its energetic cast. If Fung can resist playing to the gallery in future, he might yet prove himself a director of note, far beyond the loyalty of his devoted fan base.

NB. The witty animated icon which accompanies the on-screen title is a particularly nice touch, and wholly typical of this freewheeling extravaganza.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: Arshadnm6
Date: 04/10/2005
Summary: Great Production Value + Great Cast = Great Movie

An excellent, big budget and huge stardom movie with a lot to offer and several action sequences to make you watch this movie over and over again. The film starts of with an introduction of two rival triad organisations, ‘Hung’ (Yuen Biao) being the leader of one faction and the other faction, being lead by the ‘Fai’ (Chan Wai-Man, whom you might recognise from his earlier work, in movies such as ‘Project A: Part II’ and ‘Unmatchable Match’). Hung has a life-threatening illness and therefore sends out the 8th Master (played by ‘Law Kar-Ying’, from other credited movies like ‘God of Cookery’ and ‘Feel 100%’) and his son (Chapman To Man-Chat) to find his gay son ‘Daniel Wu’ and bring him back from Thailand to take his rightful place in the Triad Society. Now once they reach Thailand the 8th Master and his son mistakenly assume Daniel Wu’s best friend and roommate ‘Sam’ (played by ‘Eason Chan’ from ‘Visible Secret 1 and 2’) is actually the son of Hung, and hence offer him Big Brother status. Soon after they find out that Hung has passed away and so Sam must come with them back to China to take his rightful place as the master of the Triad society. Daniel Wu also comes with Eason Chan to make sure that he doesn’t get into any trouble.

In Hong Kong things get trickier. There was some bad-blood history between ‘Hung’ and his triad rival brother ‘Fai’. A long time ago both of them were at each others necks, over one of Fai’s old friends, whom had been mistakenly shot and killed by one of Hung’s Men, in a brawl. The man whom was shot was actually ‘Chow’s Father’ (Chow, played by great ‘Stephen Fung’), who has now become Fai’s Right Hand Man, and has sworn revenge on Hung and his family. This tension and history result in long-overdue climax and one of the best short fight scenes choreographed in any HK Movie. Fai also has a feisty daughter ‘Julie’ (played by ‘Karen Mok Man-Wai’, from her earlier roles in ‘So Close’ and ‘Good Bye Mr. Cool’), whom has a love development with both ‘Eason Chan’ and ‘Daniel Wu’, not realising that one of them is gay.

This movie has several fight scenes, very well choreographed by ‘Ma YukSing’ (whom you might recognise has previously action-choreographed ‘Bichunmoo’ (Korean Movie) and ‘Fist Power’), and the comedy is well-placed and not certainly not over-the-top. This is among the best HK movie to premier in the year 2004 and with so many special guest appearances, including ‘Sam Lee’, ‘Nicholas Tse’ and ‘Sammi Cheng’, this movie is well worth the time and entertainment value it was developed for.

Overall Stephen Fung has done an excellent job of producing this movie, and if his producing-style remains steady, HK Cinema will have a very bright future ahead of it-self. For fans of Daniel Wu, Eason Chan and Stephen Fung, you will be very pleased by their dedicated performances and the amount of screen-time they get, although Yuen Biao only comes in this movie for about 10 minutes in the beginning, which is a bit of a downer. Also the Movie only clocks in at about 87 Minutes, but progresses at a fast pace to keep the viewer engaged.

Overall Rating: 8.6/10

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: xiaoka
Date: 01/25/2005
Summary: great debut by Stephen Fung

I just watched it on DVD. I had pretty reserved expectations for this film, but knowing that Stephen and Daniel Wu starred in Yon-Fan's Bishonen, I knew this movie wouldn't be as negatively stereotyping of homosexuality as the typical HK comedy.

Its a comedy, so of course it tries to have fun, but I found the story to have more sides than just comedy and a more complex story then just the 'gay dai lo' premise. Also the direction was quite good for an HK movie (very impressive for a Stephen Fung's debut).

Daniel does a good job with an unconventional character, his performance should satisfy both his female and male fanbases...

As an HK film fan (not to be confused with an highly critical film student), I enjoyed the walk-ons and cameos, its a typical JC entertainment tactic, but hey, its fun.... and Yuen Biao is Yuen Biao!

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 12/25/2004
Summary: Agrre with MRblue, though he did give too much away

Not the perfect movie but enjoyable non the less. It is true Stephen fungs character is very under developed, and he being a bad guy doesnt cut it.

Lar Kar Ying can be said to steal the show with his bad accented english. Chapman To is really more likely to take over the reigns of "COMIC KING" than Nick Cheung!! the guy's acting is so flexable

There are a lot of cameo's in the movie and i did guess the last one only near the end. Sam Lee is hilarious in his small role

I felt the swing from comedy to drama to action didn't flow well. The action at the end has too much wire work, i think it's overdone, and the action aint nothing special either.

Overall worth a viewing but dont gave high expectations


Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/25/2004

Despite having a somewhat dopey premise, Stephen Fung's directorial debut Enter the Phoenix is a funny movie that also manages to convey drama without getting sappy. In the film, Daniel Wu plays Georgie, the exiled gay son of a triad boss (Yuen Biao) who is living in Thailand. After Yuen's death, his right-hand men (Law Kar-Ying and Chapman To) come to find Georgie. They mistake his straight best friend Sam (Eason Chan) for him, and make the offer to take over the gang. Sam's life-long dream has been to be a "dai lo" (big brother), so he convinces Georgie to go along with the ruse. Things seem to be going fine, until a hot-headed member from another gang (Stephen Fung) finds out Georgie/Sam's secret and uses it to try and gain power.

Hong Kong movies (with the exception of a few films like Wong Kar-Wai's Happy Together) have not been known for treating gay characters well. Usually, they are painted with the broad swishy brush of stereotype. Thankfully, Stephen Fung manages to step past most of those potholes. While there are a couple incidents of groan-inducing Wong Jing-esque hamminess -- most notably from a short cameo by Sam Lee -- the character of Georgie himself is treated well. Yes, he's gay, but ultimately, he's a human being -- and that is why I think Enter the Phoenix works. It doesn't necessarily depend on Georgie being gay, but the orientation does add something to the movie.

Unfortunately, like many Hong Kong comedies, Enter the Phoenix seems to throw a bit too much into the mix. Besides the main plot, there are also several side stories, such as one dealing with Karen Mok's character falling for Georgie and trying to "convert" him. Bits like this are charming enough, but I would have liked to see more time dedicated to the story proper. Ultimately, the main characters (Stephen Fung's in particular) feel a little under-developed. There are quite a few cameos from other big names like Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse and Sammi Cheng, and is as the case with a lot of these star-packed pictures, everyone seems to have to get their time in the spotlight, and the movie as a whole suffers a bit as a result.

Even so, I did enjoy Enter the Phoenix. While it didn't feature gut-busting hilarity, there are quite a few parts that generated laughs, such as Law Kar-Wing's cursing in English repeatedly and Eason Chan's equally laughable attempts at catching the "gangsta mack" style. While I didn't really care too much for the characters, they were all pretty likeable -- even the "bad guys" like Michael Chan came off as decent in the end. There are even a couple of decent action scenes. Enter the Phoenix isn't a perfect movie by any means, but it's a fine start to Stephen Fung's directorial career.

(review from www.hkfilm.net)

Reviewed by: Snoopy09
Date: 07/13/2004
Summary: .

A leader of triad, Hung, is very ill and so he sends his friend 8th to Thailand to retrieve his son, Georgie, to take over as the new leader. Also, Georgie is gay.
When they arrive in Thailand they mistaken Georgie's roommate, Sam, as Georgie. Georgie finds out and agrees with Sam to switch identities. Sam=Georgie, Georgie=Sam.
Lots of stuff happens when they arrive in hong kong for the ceromony for the 'big brother' status.
At the end there's a fight between the real Georgie and Chow, who is a person with a grudge against this particular triad group.

This movie isn't bad. Bits of comedic moments and nice fight scene between Chow and Georgie. If listen carefully, you can tell the background music during the fight scene is very very very similar to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill flute theme music.

Reviewed by: barrst
Date: 06/20/2004
Summary: Good but uneven

The good: Stephen Fung shows promise as a director with this film. Much more than a comedy (which is fortunate, as most of the comedy just didn't work for me) the movie explores feelings about families from a number of different angles. The bad: the subtitles on the DVD may not be as good as the ones used theatrically (and possibly on the VCD). I suspect this because the trailer on the DVD had better subtitles than the movie on the DVD. While his girlfriend (Karen Mok) is charming, having her spout lots of dialog about insurance wasn't (maybe a subtitle problem?). I would have liked to see the fight scenes show progressively more wirework to make the end fight (which was very good) less out of place.

Reviewed by: Han_Li
Date: 06/09/2004
Summary: Great Directorial Debut by Stephen Fung

Enter The Phoenix is definitely the funniest film I've seen so far this year. I usually get annoyed by comedy films where characters swap identities as Georgie, (Daniel Wu) and Sam, (Eason Chan) do, but the story and direction work so well i'ts anything but. The film benefits from a solid cast who all do well with their roles. The cameos are great and it's so nice to see Yuen Biao, he's been missed.The fights in the film were cool and the film didn't get bogged down with loads of pointless scraps, just a couple of nicely placed fights. The wire work is a bit overdone in the last fight, but it only looks bad on a couple of shots. The movie had a great look and had some nice visuals.
I thoroughly recommend this movie, it's great fun and has loads of laugh out loud moments. I can't wait to see what Stephen Fung has in store for us with his next movie! So far so good!

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 04/15/2004
Summary: Gay Triad Comedy with wacky action = a winner

Saw this one in my flying visit through HK this week, and found it to be much better than I expected (given Chapman To AND Eason Chan being in the cast). "Gay Triad Comedy" sounds like a potential disaster, but thankfully this isn't a Wong Jing film - Stephen Fung shows an impressive amount of talent as writer and director, and the result is not quite classic material but definitely worth watching. It's a good story and strong script, with confident direction and mostly good acting.
The "wacky action" from professional Ching Siu-Tung stand in Ma Yuk Shing (is that his name?) is very stylised and wire-heavy, which will turn off some people but I found it quite impressive and imaginative - there's not an awful lot of it, though - just a little bit to sweeten the experience. Mostly it's a solid comedy-drama directed quite professionally and maturely.

I'll be picking up the DVD, but it's not one I'll show to everyone.

Oh, it should be noted that Yuen Biao has a small role in the film at the start (non-fighting), and there's a brief cameo at the end from another familiar face...

Reviewer Score: 8