Sunday, September 18, 2011

HK Cinema at SFFS: Mr. and Mrs. Incredible

They are Imperial China’s answer to Brangelina and Pixar’s Incredibles. They were legit crime-fighting superheroes, but Gazer Warrior and Aroma Warrior fell in love, retiring incognito to a remote provincial village. Yet, like ex-football quarterbacks, they get pulled back into the game in Vincent Kok’s Mr. and Mrs. Incredible (wacky trailer here), which screens this coming Friday when the San Francisco Film Society’s upcoming Hong Kong Cinema series inaugurates their new residency at the New Peoples Cinema.

Now known as Flint, the head of the guard for their sleepy village, Gazer can still fire off his laser eye-beams. Aroma, the former avenger of domestic abuse, is now a happy wife and greasy spoon proprietor called Rouge. She wields the aroma force-palm and the power to cloud men’s minds with scent. They both are also strong, fast, and well neigh invulnerable. They did not even fight much, until an official delegation came to town.

Something is not right about the competition, ostensibly called to re-rank the various martial arts disciplines away from the gossipy imperial court. However, the HK Incredibles are distracted by their first marital squabble. Rouge slightly resents the attention Flint is paying to Phoenix Bleu, one of the martial arts apprentices, who once had a close encounter with the masked Gazer as a little girl. She is drawn to Flint because he reminds her of her hero, for good reason.

The humor of Incredible is decidedly goof-ball, but by-and-large, it is an amiable tribute to marital love, honor, and commitment. While the slightly suggestive references are not infrequent, they are veiled enough to be lost on the target audience for the slapstick mayhem. In fact, it is somewhat similar in tone to Stephen Chow’s films, like CJ7, which Kok co-wrote and featured his Incredible co-writer, Min Hun-fung in a supporting role. It even has the occasional animatronic critter to strengthen the comparison.

Louis Koo and Sandra Ng Kwun-yu are pleasantly comfortable as the super spouses, developing some nice easy chemistry together. Li Qin is quite charming as Phoenix Bleu, but unfortunately, Kok completely forgets about her throughout the third act. Wang Bo-chieh has the right creepy vibe, but he is a bit too reserved as the villainous Grandmaster Blanc. He should be gorging on the scenery in a film like this. However, there are plenty of odd looking characters in the supporting cast to help maintain the comic book atmosphere.

Wisely, Kok never indulges in any frenetic shaky cam excesses, keeping the action clear and easy to follow. Incredible also has some surprisingly striking imagery, including a cool motion comic-style opening credit sequence and an artful rendering of some shadow puppetry. There are nose-picking gags too. Safe and silly, but likable enough for those in a like mood, Incredible screens Friday night (9/23) and Sunday afternoon (9/25) at the New People Cinema as part of the SFFS’s Hong Kong Cinema series.