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嚦咕嚦咕新年財 (2002)
Fat Choi Spirit

Reviewed by: paullo13
Date: 12/16/2002

Fat Choi Spirit a great movie to start a New Year.Its very funny yet very cute at the same time. All the characters are surprisingly charming, especially Gigi Leung. This is a pure comedy Hong Kong style so for those who have not seen it yet it is recommend to go out and rent it!

Reviewed by: azn_idol
Date: 08/05/2002
Summary: Light hearted movie.

Looks like GiGi is goin to have a very productive year, much like her labelmate Sammi did in 2001. With Mighty Baby and another movie with Louis Koo coming out she has a very very good shot of getting some HKFA nominations next year. Anyways, a lil bit about the movie.

This has to be one of Johnnie To's better movies. There are enough summaries, so I'll just add my 2 cents.
-Bonnie Wong (Andy's mother) is absolutely hilarious. She certainly deserves a supporting actress nomination for this effort.
-GiGi Leung (Andy's love interest) is certainly goin to be seeing some HKFA nominations next year. She is immensely funny and had no problems making fun of one of her own real-life short comings. Very very good
-Andy Lau dosen't really bring anything unique to the movie, infact apart from the 2 characters mentioned above there are no other stand outs. Standard HK fare but done very well.

Rating: 9/10

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Stardust
Date: 08/05/2002
Summary: Cast Summary

Before I begin, let me clarify that I do not know how to play mahjong. I admit, I watched this movie purely due to the star-studded cast. However, I enjoyed it just as much as the people I watched it with, who do know how to play the game.

Since the title has pretty much given the storyline away (a movie about mahjong), saying more would give away too much. I'll focus on the cast instead (since they are the main reason I watched the movie).

Andy Lau: Nothing special about his role. I've seen Andy do better in other movies.

Gigi Leung: She's lucky to snag one of the two roles with extended character development (the other one being Andy's character). Very adorable at first, but as the movie goes on, she gets a bit annoying (when she's with Sean Lau). I did enjoy watching her though as she tries to impress Andy and get him to marry her.

Sean Lau: Three words - whinning immature rapper. The rapper part is ok, he did generate some laughs. Then he turns whinny? What's with that? Not his best work here; I've seen better.

Louis Koo: Is he a special guest star or an actual main character? He did a great job playing an innocent geek, but I don't think I would've noticed if his character didn't exist. Louis Koo fans will be impressed with his looks here but disappointed at the limited screen time he has.

Cherrie Ying: Sorry, I have no clue who she is (first time seeing her). Pretty, but not a significant character.

Bonnie Wong: She practically stole the show. A veteran actress, she's quite hilarious. Probably my favorite character.

Overall: its a good New Year's movie - simple story with lots of famous people.

Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: reelcool
Date: 05/21/2002
Summary: Hong Kong Johnny

Yet another Johnny To - Andy Lau comedy for the hungry, Hong Kong viewers. The movie jump starts with Gigi and Andy in a traffic ticket skirmish, and puts the audience in a "ready-for-more" mood. I was going, "awright, this gonna be fun", but then it takes a sharp turn, and suddenly it's that Louis Koo, guy. "What the hell is going on?" They didn't tell me this guy was supposed to be Andy's brother. Louis' character is pathetic, and Louis doesn't really have a good part - he's not memorable, interesting, or funny. Poor Louie. Maybe Andy wanted it that way? Just kidding. Anyway, the movie does get back on track, and all is well again for Hong Kong. Gigi is just too much, she gets all the good parts, and a "boob job" that makes her look centerfold sexy. This movie is just what Hong Kong needs - a "boob job".

Reviewed by: Dyogenez
Date: 05/06/2002
Summary: A Great Comedy

Throughout the movie, my friends and I were falling over laughing. The comedy throughout the movie hides the fact there really isn't much plot. Andy Lau, playing the "Mahjong Warrior" -- a man addicted to Mahjong and has always won -- deals with his luck finally changing. As a beginning mahjong player, I was able to understand some of what went on during the many games. I know in real life games are never that fast ^^ They talk much of the 'special hands' in Mahjong which most people may not know much about, as there are dozens of such hands.

The main 'villian' is also a great comedic touch adding sort of a street thug mahjong player who is also quite a baby (yes, it doesn't sound right, thats why it's funny). All the characters seem to do similar things -- you will expect one thing and they will act completely different. There are also a few scenes that you think are flashbacks and then turn out to be in the present as surprises.

As a comedy and a mahjong movie I would recommend this. The plot is lacking, as it only makes excuses for more reasons to play mahjong, but still it entertains. 8/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 05/04/2002
Summary: Sitcom Fluff

Having seen one too many mediocre Johnnie To and Wai Ka fai comedies, I was pleasantly surprised by "Fat Choi Spirit." The Andy Lau vehicle was painless and less annoying than the duo's previous offerings. The tone was very even and didn't go overboard on the slapstick or the inane local goofiness. Even though the film's tenor was apparent with plotlines telegraphed throughout the film, it was a delight to see the cast's interactions. The crew looked as if it had fun making this film. "Fat Choi Spirit" can be summed up as sitcom fluff. Nothing new, but efficiently executed.

The characters portrayed by each and every member of the cast wasn't a far stretch from what most have been doing over the last couple of years, except that Louis Koo goes from being a leading man in previous works to a geek in this film, and winds up being a glorified cameo. Gigi Leung, on the other hand, like Andy Lau, can be amazingly disarming or frustratingly annoying. In "Fat Choi Spirit" both Leung and Lau have tempered their annoying tendencies to be quite palatable. Gigi even looked very cute, as her character's particular fancy is to take on many different jobs in order to be closer to Lau. As HKA (Hong Kong Action) has taken the world by storm, and all of the action-talent working abroad, the local filmmakers have to make do with what is available. The recent spate of HK comedies has been successful locally, but movies like "Fat Choi Spirit' don't travel well, unless you are a native speaker or interested in such culturally specific entertainment as mahjong.

Thankfully, the cinematography was very well handled and didn't have the video sheen of other recent To comedies.

Overall, "Fat Choi Spirit" is in many ways like Lau Ching Wan's character who dresses as a B-boy, but has no clue, or basically, all sugar coating without any real substance. "Fat Choi Spirit" is an easy way to spend 90 plus minutes and is very good couch potato fare.

Reviewed by: annelam
Date: 04/30/2002
Summary: Enjoyable and recommended comedy

I must admit that I didn't expect much when I stepped into the cinema. Ok.. what would New Year movies have to offer? They usually just consist of a big star-studded cast and have weak story lines that barely flows. BUT I WAS WRONG when it comes to Fat Choi spirit. Ok... it's nothing really that artistic but as a comedy, it shines pretty well. A pretty good movie to be watched during Chinese New Year cos it left me feeling happy and lucky for the next few days! It's plot although loose, flows quite well. You'd go in and laugh till you come out and you're not laughing because someone stuck a pie on Andy Lau's head. Although I'm not a mahjong player but I felt it was quite easy to understand the story. Just imagine that they struck gold everytime they say.. PHUNG or KUNG! haha.. Dialogue is hilarious and the action is quite funny too. I especially liked the part where Louis took his mum to see the doctor right up till the part she meets Andy Lau again. Jokes are not too lame nor slapstick but there were a couple of recycled jokes here and there. The other flaw I felt was the part where the 'rice' appeared. Rice in the middle of the movie?? How absurb!Well, that was what I was thinking too at that time! The part was a little too much for me cos it was really illogical. Other than these few flaws, I would say that this is a good New Year comedy and deserves a rating of 8/10.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: zarrsadus
Date: 04/27/2002
Summary: Great comedy and mahjong, but loose plot

Being a big fan of Andy Lau and a casual mahjong player I went into this movie with high expectations. Overall I really enjoyed myself while watching this movie. Andy was very funny as in Love on a Diet which was nice, I like him more as the comedian than a serious character like in Full Throttle or A Fighter's Blues. Anyways back to Fat Choi... the comedy was great but not slapstick, and Bonnie Wong shined as the mother with Alzheimers, sheer genius. I also enjoyed that this was a gambling movie and not about cards, not that I dislike them -on the contrary I love them- it's just nice to see a change in the standard genre to make a movie about mahjong. Speaking of mahjong, even though I play it every once in a while, I didn't know all of the special hands they were calling in the movie and it was hard for me to interpret whether to be happy or sad whenever they showed a player's hand, since I couldn't comprehend what special hand a player was shooting for in some of the scenes. My girlfriend watched this with me and has never played mahjong but still really enjoyed the movie, so I guess you don't have to fully understand everything to at least have a good time and laugh. Highly recommended to anyone who plays mahjong and even to people that don't. My only quarrel was with the plot besides the mahjong aspect. There were about 10 different subplots going on during the movie, and they never really came together cohesively. Sure in the end you could basically put two and two together, but they could have explained things better and not jumped around so much. Because of this part alone, my rating goes down slightly, but the comedy and the all-star actors make up for the rest. Overall, 8 out of 10.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: bcrain
Date: 04/25/2002
Summary: Silly and Enjoyable!

If you are a fan of Andy Lau, Lau Ching Wan, or Gigi Leung, you will probably enjoy this film. Andy is as likable as usual as the "Mahjong Warrior," a mahjong player that appears to have a similar type of magical skill when playing mahjong that Chow Yun-Fat had in the great "God of Gamblers." This is an easy role for Andy and he could probably perform it in his sleep. Lau Ching Wan is very funny as a conman / gangsta rapp'n mahjong rival who Andy must square off with. I bought this movie solely because of how much I like Lau Ching Wan, and he is very good. I think the performance that I enjoyed the most came from Gigi Leung. Her character has some very interesting ways of dealing with things such as losing at mahjong, beauty enhancement, and house-cleaning. Her character's responses to the things mentioned above provide the film's biggest laughs.

Overall, this is an enjoyable, albeit quite silly, film.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 04/17/2002
Summary: YIKES

Well i just wonder those who dont know mahjong, how much they would enjoy this.........but i do know mahjong myself so i think i would get more pleasure from this movie, but i didn't get much.........

i can't see how the other reviewers can recommend this. It's a plotless movie with mahjong in it. There is a annoying relationship between Andy and Gigi, a mother with no memory and a group of mahjong hustlers!! You dont need much brain power for this movie.......

Louis Koo is wasted here, he hardly does anything. Lau ching wan is good, if his character ws suppose to be annoying and hated. Gigi is easily the star of the movie, giving another great performace and Andy, well plays his roles if they were all the same.

I did get a few laughs but that was it. Disappointing but worth one viewing.


Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 04/17/2002

Every year in February, HK cinema churns out Chinese New Year's comedies that are all essentially feel-good fluff with an all-star cast. This year's offering from Milkyway is no exception: headed by star Andy Lau Tak-Wah and with 3 of the 4 leads from the recent hit movie La Brassiere (Louis Koo, Gigi Leung, and Lau Ching Wan) in strong supporting roles, this new gambling comedy offer some light-hearted laughs and ninety minutes of mindless entertainment.

One would think that the gambling movie genre has more or less been done to death, but HK filmmakers continue to find new and fresh angles. In this case, the story is centered around a Mahjong ace played by Andy who has turned his obsession with tiles into a lucrative career that has paid for a big house and enables him to lend a helping hand when his mother (the hilarious Bonnie Wong) and his nerdy brother (Louis Koo) are evicted after Louis has lost his job. Joining the fun is Andy's somewhat eccentric (ex-)girlfriend who changes professions like you and I change our socks: first she appears as a traffic cop (so she can write Andy tickets), then she shows up as a tax inspector (so she can audit him) - talk about obsessions! It becomes clear that she is just as crazy about him as he is about Mahjong; she wants nothing more than to get married to Andy, which he will only agree to if she manages to beat him at the Mahjong table. Despite everyone's best efforts, she always comes up short, losing her temper in hilarious fashion in the process. Gigi Leung plays this caricature role with reckless abandonment, not afraid to make a fool of herself and being rewarded for that with some of the funniest scenes in the movie. Even crazier is Lau Ching Wan, who is dressed like a gangsta rapper and whose performance as a rival Mahjong player out to beat Andy is the highlight of the film. Andy himself plays his role with the usual charm, and he develops great chemistry with Gigi in their scenes, as well as creating good tension during his Mahjong duels with LCW.

The story follows the usual twists and turns, with Andy's luck suddenly changing midway through the movie, after Gigi curses him in a moment of desparation. How he eventually pulls through (and there's never any doubt that he will) and manages to come out victorious against all the odds is presented in a well-paced and fresh manner that had me thoroughly entertained. There's a moral in here somewhere (something about learning to lose well being just as important as learning to win well, and if you do, family harmony will be restored and you will get the girl and get rich...), but I forgot all about that when the movie took a sudden final twist and ended with a hilarious WFH parody.

One word of warning, though: the audience gets to watch a LOT of Mahjong being played, so if you're not familiar with the rules, you will miss out on quite a bit. It would certainly be recommended to at least brush up on the rules before watching the film. You can still follow the significance of what's happening in the games by picking up on the numerous cues such as facial expressions, but it adds a degree of enjoyment if you can actually appreciate the strategies being used by the players.


Date: 04/16/2002
Summary: I liked it

Taken from the back of the DVD case.

Andy (Andy Lau) is a legendary Mahjong player. Years ago Andy's passion for Mahjong cost his family their entire fortune, his brother Louis (Louis Koo) then turned against him. Thus now Louis suffers from economy downturn. Andy offers to take care of him and their aging mother. Meanwhile, Louis is being trapped by a job interview supervisor (Cherrie in) and her con artist partner Sean (Lau Ching-Wan). Andy revenged Louis by beating him at the game table. Gigi (Gigi Leung), Andy's ex-flame, her increasing disappointment in Andy's rejection, she wishes he'll never win at the Mahjong table again. Oddly, Gigi's words come true....

My thoughts about the film.

I was happy with the film. It wasn't a laugh riot which I expected but was entertaining anyway. By far this movie needs to be seen just for Laun Ching-Wan he is so funny in this movie that all I want to see him in is comedies now. (Okay maybe not but after La Brassiere he really is funny) Come on the whole movie him and his con partners are all dressed up like thugs one scene he's wearing a marijuana chain. I was drinking soda at time and spit it all over the TV. I don't know I thought that was really funny.

I thought the rest of the cast was good. Andy is really growing on me now. I wasn't really into him but after I had a Andy Lau film fest I think he really is a good actor. I would have liked to seen more of Louis Koo he's not in the movie as much as I would have hoped.

Now on to the Mei Ah disc..

4 Audio tracks: Cantonese DD 5.1, Mandarin DD 5.1, Cantonese 2.0, and Mandarin 2.0

3 Subtitles: (All Removable) Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and English

I think as far as picture and sound go, Mei Ah did a great job. Picture throughout the film is solid.

Picture - 10 perfect and even Anamorphic too..

Sound - 9 (I don't have surround sound, But sound was good for me)

Extras - 1 (This is what hurt the disc the most just Info on the film and a Trailer)

Movie - 9 (I added 1 for Lau Ching-Wan he is that good in this movie)

I think everyone will get a kick out of the film.. So I would recommend it to everyone.. Anyone care for a game of Mahjong??

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 03/10/2002
Summary: Very enjoyable...

This is certainly a "lesser" Milkyway film, and anyone who knows anything about how the HK film industry works could probably see that from a mile off, as this film has all the earmarks of a derivative, rush-it-out for the New Year throwaway. Here, however, things that could've brought the movie down become assets or negligible.

My biggest worry about this film was the fact that it centers around Mahjong. I've played the game exactly twice, and though one was a rather intense session, the rules are mostly gone from my head. However, despite the many game sequences in the film, someone with no knowledge of the game could probably enjoy the film, as there are enough cues to the signifance of each person's hand to keep the Mahjongg-ignorant viewer up to speed.

For once, this is an all-star film that doesn't waste its stars or allow them to cruise by. Although I am, admittedly, becoming a huge Andy Lau fan, I think his performance here was excellent; his comic delivery is excellent, even to someone who only understands 1/3 of what he's saying. Lau Ching-Wan is also great in a role that is way, way against type; since I didn't like La Brassiere too much, this is his real return for me. Louis Koo is a little too over-the-top dorky, but that's better than the catatonic state that his more heroic roles often find him in. Gigi Leung is pretty good too, showing that people really can learn. Cherrie Ying isn't in the film much, and, disappointingly to me, appears with her hair up and too much makeup. No almost-age-inappropriate crush-material for me here! Acting wise, she does well for a newcomer in the smallest role. She's very promising for someone who was brought into the industry by someone who liked her looks.

The plot is thin, but not "Dance of a Dream" thin. Plot points crop up and are dealt with in straightforward manner.

Raymond Wong does more good work, but I have to wonder if he's running out of material; his style is getting a little bit too easily identifiable, and he's taken to plagiarizing earlier works in "Shaolin Soccer," "Running Out of Time 2" and this film.

Overall, this is an enjoyable, if undemanding and inconsequential film. Where this falls among Milkyway's comedies is up to personal taste, but in my mind it's not particularly inferior to any of them, and is certainly better than Wu Yen.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 02/19/2002
Summary: Pleasing New Year offering from Milkyway

It's quite sad that after the last couple of Milkyway efforts (ROOT2 & FTK), the names Johnnie To & Wai Ka Fai on the credits had started filling me with apprehension rather than thrill. This lowering of expectations probably paid off though, as I am no longer expecting miracles from the duo... and was hence able to enjoy FAT CHOI SPIRIT quite a lot :)

I'm not sure quite when they made the movie or how long it took, as it's hardly any time since ROOT2 came out, and there was seemingly no publicity about it before it was hitting the screens already. It doesn't look as if effort or time were skimped on though, as the production values are pretty high... certainly much higher than previous New Year effort Wu Yen. The humour here is a little reminiscent of Wu Yen... the wilful overacting & the exagerated sense of melodrama... but it's less silly overall, and contains none of the elements that some people found puerile. In fact I think the humour here was very well balanced, even though I'm sure I missed quite a bit due to lack of language/cultural knowledge.

The main place where I felt my ignorance was the mahjong games... a pretty large part of the movie, admittedly. Fat Choi Spirit is reminiscent of, if not quite a parody of, the God Of Gamblers family of movies. Here, Andy Lau plays the Mahjong Warrior, a man with extraordinary skills at mahjong... Lau Ching Wan and Wong Tin Lam play the father & son (not in that order, obviously) team of mahjong conmen who become Andy's rivals. There's a lot of mahjong showdowns here, all filmed very dramatically with excellent camera work being utilised to build the tension until it reveals... a bunch of tiles that mean nothing to me. I could pretty much tell when a hand was good from the soundtrack & camera work, but all the shouting of "pong" and "kong" and exchanges of tiles went right over my head. The cunning and skill being utilised by the players, and the cruel or amazing turns of luck with the tiles was easily deducible from the same cues, but quite why a green dragon here was a disaster and 4 circles there turned the whole game round... no idea. If you're planning to see this movie, I would advise going on line and trying to find out a little bit about Mahjong (if you don't already play it), because the movie would definitely make more sense Still, not having a clue about the games has never stopped me enjoying the HK gambling movies, and this was no exception.

The strongest aspect of the movie, as with any good movie, is the characters - and the performances that embody them. To & Wai assembled a great cast for the movie - admittedly borrowing much of it straight from LA BRASSIERE Andy Lau is obviously the central figure and the box office draw for them. His character isn't much of a stretch for him - just your average cool, smooth but decent Andy Lau character really, so he plays it well with ease. Lau Ching Wan is probably the highlight of the movie though, playing well against type and loving it. As Wong Tin Lam's spoilt son he gets to indulge in wonderful temper tantrums and generally play the fool, which he does well. Gigi Leung also seems to relish the chance to indulge in similar tantrums and odd behaviors as the 'quirky' (mad) love interest for Andy. Not sure who the young lady is that plays Louis Koo's love interest - she isn't called upon to do a lot of acting... but she's basically a very pretty wallflower - every movie needs one somewhere :D

After Lau Ching Wan, the other standout character is Andy Lau's mother. Her Alzheimers and Mahjong addiction give her some wonderful moments, and the the actress that plays her does a great job. Very likeable. Special mention to whoever the director of photography was too, as there is some quite fantastic camera work here.

The Milkway main duo have managed to produce a movie that has pleased me plenty for Chinese New Year 2002, which is hopefully a good sign that we're going to get more gems from them in the coming year. The minute I hear they're going to make a FULLTIME KILLER 2 or ROOT3 I'm going to desert them for good though!

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Souxie
Date: 02/17/2002
Summary: A.K.A. "Fat Choi Spirit" - very funny

I thought this movie was excellent, very funny and very enjoyable seeing as it was just supposed to be a new year movie. Did enjoy the whole thing, even though my knowledge of Mahjong is shaky at best. You don't have to understand the game to enjoy this film though (fortunately), you just have to have a sense of humour.
Loved the slick jokes, the very charismatic Andy Lau, the hilarious Gigi Leung, and Lau Ching-Wan was a scream. Will definitley buy this DVD when it comes out.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 02/15/2002
Summary: Funny Chinese New Year movie

Fat Choi Spirit (aka Sure Win) is this year’s big Chinese New Year comedy. I saw a poor bootleg version yesterday (the 12th - perfect day!), but I still found it enjoyable, I will be one of the first to buy the VCD as soon as it is released in April. Johnnie To has reunited the cast of last years hit ‘La Brassiere’ for another fast fun comedy, with Andy Lau taking the main seat.

Andy plays a man who is addicted to mahjong, mainly because of his luck. He has never lost, and has enough money to by his girlfriend (Gigi Leung) a big house, who doesn’t seem to appreciate him. He has not seen his family for a long time, and when he meets his mother again and his brother (Louis Koo), he finds out that not only his brother unemployed but has lost a lot of money from gambling. Not just gambling though, it was a scam Andy later discovers. He decides to help his brother by plotting a revenge mahjong game against the people who beat his brother. But this leads to trouble. Lau Ching Wan is the man Andy must beat back…but who win? You’ll have to wait until you see it I guess.

There is not a lot new here, especially plot but it is after all a Chinese New Year comedy, so not to be taken seriously. It’s just a fun movie. Johnnie To in my opinion has been making worst and worst movies over the last few years, but this one looks a lot better, like he’s returning to the good ways he used to make films.

I think the amount of mahjong scenes was too much, though a lot of funny scenes make them more interesting. Overall it is funny, but a lot of messing around…but it’s that time of year, so you can forgive them. I might have to change my rating at a later date, after all this is the first 2002 movie I have seen, so it is impossible to rate it in comparison to others. But I would say this rating is about fair.

Rating [3/5]

Reviewer Score: 6