Thursday, June 26, 2014

NYAFF ’14: Golden Chickensss

A lot has changed in Hong Kong over the last twenty years or so, but it remains a high-flying city. There is still plenty of exclusive partying going on and that is good for Kam’s business—the oldest business. HK’s Happy Hooker turned Madam adjusts with the times, but it is harder for the ambiguous love of her life in Matt Chow’s Golden Chickensss (a.k.a. Golden Chicken 3, trailer here), which screens tomorrow on the first day of the 2014 New York Asian Film Festival.

Kam has gone from labor to management, but she still not too snobby to do her share of field work. After all, she still has her conspicuous assets. There are younger madams out there, but she can work the phones and stroke a client’s ego like the best of them. She will even take her girls on a field trip to Japan to pick up some tips the world’s preeminent hummer expert. However, things start to get serious when Brother Gordon is finally released from jail.

While they were never a couple, per se, Brother Gordon had her back and there was always a certain something between them. There is still a spark of something between them. Unfortunately, the gangster does not understand how much Hong Kong has changed. Kam tries to gently guide him towards a quieter life, but she is afraid too stiff a shot of reality will hobble his spirit.

Evidently there are a lot of puns in Chickensss that kill with Cantonese speakers, but are mostly lost on the rest of the world. On the other hand, Sandra Ng’s chest prosthetics require absolutely no translation. Would that be the costume designer’s responsibility or a special effects artist? Regardless, they look impressively genuine (and you will be looking).

In fact, there is something relentlessly appealing about our indomitable heroine. Ng is one of the few comedy specialists, who can effortlessly segue from physical comedy to sultry naughtiness and then back to straight-up melodrama without ever looking awkward or embarrassed. Not for nothing will she be the recipient of this year’s NYAFF Star Asia Award (the Queen of Comedy edition). However, most of her co-stars have trouble looking so classy when acting so goofy.

Speaking of looking uncomfortable, Brother Gordon is not exactly Nick Cheung’s best role this year or even his greatest performance at this year’s NYAFF, but he sure seems to be working a lot these days—and you have to respect that. There are a host of in-joke cameos, including Ip Man’s Donnie Yen spoofing his Grandmaster competition (okay, that really was funny) and Louis Koo playing the lookalike gigolo version of himself. As you would expect, there is a gorgeous ensemble cast playing Kam’s employees (including Michelle Wai and Cantopop singers Fiona Sitt and Ivana Wong), but they are not given much to do except look decorative.

Even if you do not get the jokes—or if you get them only too well—it is impossible to dislike such an irrepressible, fabulously dressed film. After watching it, you will have confidence the sun will definitely come out tomorrow in Hong Kong. Upbeat and unapologetically horny, is largely recommended for Ng’s fans looking for some broad comedy and a dash of nostalgia. It screens tomorrow (6/27) and Tuesday (7/1) at the Walter Reade Theater as part of this year’s NYAFF celebration of Sandra Ng.