I can’t exactly say I like Francis Ng. But, weirdly, I do look forward to the crazy characters he plays. Need a weird, awkward, alcoholic, pathological anti-social pyschopath? Then Francis Ng is your guy! I first became aware of his unique talents in Young and Dangerous. Dude does not-right RIGHT!
So imagine my glee(?) when I heard he was teaming up with Marco Mak for Tracing Shadow, billed as a wuxia parody. To its credit, I think it is shot better than you would anticipate a dramedy of this kind to be. It’s pretty and the martial arts choreography, wire work and swordplay is better than I would have expected.
To be honest, you are not going to find anything new in this if you’ve seen even a sprinkling of wuxia films. It didn’t make me laugh out loud, but it did make me smile. It wasn’t over the top crazy like mo lau tai wuxia comedies, but it had its fair share of subtle humor and just things that didn’t go together in a weird kind of way. Like that impromptu jam between Ng’s character and the eventual object of his affection, in a brothel, to what sounds like a fusion of traditional Chinese music and hard rock. Yeah. And there THREE crazy things waiting for you in the middle, but unlike other people, I’ll let you find them for yourself. You’ll know when you see them. And THAT made me smile, that I was able to recognize what, or more accurately, WHO, they were supposed to be. See, watching all that wuxia pays off in the end! Another redeeming factor is that Jaycee Chan is actually decent in this. I’ve seen him in other things, and I don’t blame him because he’s been in roles that didn’t really fit him. But here, he is actually kinda charming. Good job!
And while I’m thinking about it, can people who write about films please stop heralding the end of Hong Kong film with EVERY film that does not meet some high expectation? Good grief. If I had a dollar for every film somebody said was killing Hong Kong film, I’d be rich. Chill out. Not every film is supposed to be super great. I’m not mad at this. I save that for things have truly no redeeming value whatsoever, and when you think about it, that’s pretty rare.