Men Suddenly in Black
Director: Edmond Pang
Cast: Eric Tsang, Jordan Chan, Chapman To, Spirit Blue, Teresa Mo, Candy Lo, Tiffany Lee
Edmond Pang is without doubt the Hong Kong version of Korean director Kim Sang-jin. Like Kim, Pang is always full of ridiculous yet funny ideas for his movies. Perhaps the only difference is that Kim is more interested in the context of the movie within the genre while Pang loves to experiment with genres as a whole. Early in You Shoot I Shoot, Pang already demonstrated to us how two seemingly opposite genres (comedy and crime) could be mixed into one. Although the box office record was rather disappointing, the film was regarded as a cult hit by many critics and audience. This time, Pang continues to explore the possibility of genres blending in his new film Men Suddenly in Black.
Cheating men is an usual movie subject that has been exploited in many movies before, but it just becomes quite unusual in the hands of Edmond Pang. The story basically happens in one single day, Tin-yau (Eric Tsang) is the leader of a four men group who decide to cheat on their wives who are away to Thailand. But somehow their plans don't seem to work well, as everytime during the critical moments, unexpected accident will happen and ruin their parties. They begin to suspect that there is a traitor among them...
While the plot is certainly quite fruitful and entertaining, what really draws us into the movie is Pang's unique sense of humors, by that I mean his experiment with the mixture of genres. Obviously, this is a black comedy dressed in a detective thriller coat. From the camera works to the setup of the plot, and from the background music and costumes to the actors' performance, everything is treated seriously that gives you an illusion you are seeing a detective thriller movies; On the other hand, the content, for instance, the negotiation in the erotic net cafe (a spoof of Infernal Affairs), the sex party at the hotel, and the visit to Uncle 9 (Tony Leung Ka-fai) are extremely absurd and humorous. The result of this intentional misfit of content and convention is unbelievably powerful that greatly intensifies the comical effect of many scenes.
Story-wise, the focus is placed on Eric Tsang and his three partners. The wives are never impressive. However, one major problem is the lack of clarification of Teresa Mo (as Tsang's wife) 's stance. Not intended to make a spoiler here, all I can say is that the ending is weakened mainly because of the obscure depiction of her character, as what she says and what she does are closely related to the destiny of the four men... If more scenes could be added to the movie visualizing her background, the movie would definitely look much more complete.
Eric Tsang as the pivotal character is satisfactory. Apparently, his character is a spoof of Sam in Infernal Affairs, which is also played by him. Jordan Chan, Chapman To and Spirit Blue as the sidekicks have all done a great job, but there is no way they can usurp the spotlight from Tsang. One side note that is worth to mention is that there are quite a number of cameos in the movie, including the two leads in You Shoot I Shoot Eric Kot and Cheung Tat-ming, Lam Suet, Nat Chan, Sandra Ng, Tony Leung Ka-fai (extremely funny), Sammo Hung, Alan Tam and many more.
Similar to You Shoot I Shoot, the weakest link of this film is the ending, which definitely needs refinement. Nevertheless, Men Suddenly in Black is still a highly entertaining popcorn movie, and probably the most enjoyable one of the year (2003) so far.
Cool guy(s) - Eric Tsang
Reviewed by: Kantorates