Writer: Casey ChongWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"The Thirty Million Dollar Rush", "Yesterday Once More" and "Sparrow"
At the first glance, the idea of assembling some of Hong Kong's most recognizable stars (Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Ekin Cheng, Kelly Chen, Eric Tsang and Wong Cho-Lam) in a heist comedy sounds like a guaranteed fun. After all, what can go wrong since this high-profile Hong Kong movie blockbuster is directed by veteran filmmaker Lee Chi-Ngai, who responsible for some of the well-known comedies in the '90s including "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Father", "Tom, Dick and Hairy" and "Dr. Mack". Not surprisingly, this reviewer is hoping the director can pull this off easily, but unfortunately "Horseplay" is surprisingly a huge letdown.
When a priceless statue known as "Tang Dynasty Pottery Horse" goes missing from the Hong Kong police headquarters after being retrieved earlier from the scene of an accident, Inspector Cheung Ho (Ekin Cheng) embarks on a solo mission that brings him to London to uncover the truth. From there, he crosses path with Mui (Kelly Chen), a popular TV host-cum-journalist who also investigate the missing statue as well. Soon it doesn't take long that the missing statue has something to do with the legendary thief nicknamed as Nine-Tailed Fox (Tony Leung Ka-Fai).
As a heist comedy that goes global from Hong Kong, London and Prague, writer-director Lee Chi-Ngai certainly knows how to stage a visually appealing motion picture. The particular location settings in London and Prague are beautifully captured by cinematographer Wade Muller, while the art direction is lavishly elegant. Yuki Yamamoto's dashing score, in the meantime, successfully captured the jovial mood of this heist comedy. Last but not least is the movie's jazzy theme song "Why Not Tonight", a Cantonese remake from Henry Mancini's classic song, "It Had Better Be Tonight", which is wonderfully performed by Kelly Chen, Tony Leung Ka-Fai and Ekin Cheng towards the end credit of the movie.
However, sumptuous technical credits alone does not equal as a good movie. Despite the potentially fun premise, Lee Chi-Ngai botches his own screenplay with a series of painfully mediocre moments. First, he fails to generate much worthy laughs throughout the movie. Second, he underplays the heist-comedy formula with seriously lack of wits. And lastly, he neglects to make good use of his actors as well.
Speaking of actors, Tony Leung Ka-Fai has that typical debonair persona to pull off a smooth-operator role. But as a versatile actor who is also adept for doing comedies as well, Tony's overall acting in "Horseplay" is surprisingly lacklustre. Ekin Cheng is equally wasted in his lightweight cop role as Inspector Cheung Ho, while Eric Tsang's and Wong Cho-Lam's comedic talents are also undermined with their mostly unfunny comic performances. Of all the actors here, only Kelly Chen stands out with a least satisfying performance as Mui.
"Horseplay" is hardly witty for a heist comedy. Even this movie is treated as a breezy, "sit-back-and-enjoy"-kind of lightweight comedy, "Horseplay" doesn't really click much as a guilty-pleasure entertainment. As a matter of fact, for all the talents involved here, they certainly can do better than this forgettable effort.Cinema Online, 18 March 2014