All's Well, Ends Well 1997
Hong Kong's got a long tradition of special Chinese New Year movie releases, and this is the latest, with no apologies to Shakespeare. The goofy comedy stars Stephen Chaio as a character who pretends to be mentally disabled in order to sponge off his family. Chaio's described in the press kit as Hong Kong's Jim Carrey; I'd put him more on the level of a Hong Kong Adam Sandler. The film itself, a huge hit in HK, is a typically offhand comedy, entirely plot-free, leaping from retard jokes to Bridges of Madison County parodies, and including perhaps the most complete catalog of fake-leg jokes ever committed to film. Like a lot of Hong Kong comedies, the whole thing feels like a series of outtakes, with the performers trying to crack one another up -- not necessarily a bad thing, when the cast is clicking. There are some very funny bits, like the elevator full of Chaio's ex-girlfriends, or the snotty couple with matching moles who brag about their British passports and the newly acquired Anglicized names they can barely pronounce. Ultimately, more of it falls flat than not, though I am a sucker for a good fake-leg joke.
-- Tod Booth
All's Well, Ends Well 1997 screens Fridays at midnight at the Four Star, 2200 Clement. Tickets are $7.50; call 666-3488.