Never too old to act childish.
The movie begins with a man telling…rather rambling story about…I am not actually sure what. But, in any case, the movie shows an elderly man walking around the city, finding other elderly people living on the streets, and guiding them to the On Hei Nursing Home
And, apparently, not everyone is happy about this. Rainy Cloud Hung is the founder of…Rainy Cloud…and he wants to dominate the entire nursing home market. Gee. I wonder why he and his underlings are wearing eyepatches.
Rainy Cloud orders two of his underlings, Chun Fong Si and Lok Tai Ling, to quickly get the owner of On Hei to hand over ownership. He promises them a promotion if they succeed.
The owner of On Hei, or the Chief, is one who brought the elderly homeless people in. Just like with the introductory voiceover, he is rambling on about nonsense, this time, to his employee, Ching Ching, who humors his bizarre tangents. They get into an argument over the ratio of nurses to elderly people. He wants one to one, but she claims that she can take care of at least five elderly people. Still, she relents and makes some posting.
And that is where Chun and Lok come in. They look at the posting and very loudly proclaim interest. Ching Ching calls to them from the floor above and offers to take them to see the chief. Lok seems to be smitten.
Ching Ching brings the two to the garden to see the chief and he…um…checks their health. He says that Lok has a healthy body, but not a healthy heart. And Chun has a healthy heart, but not a kind one. Okay. He then gives them an IQ test, though it is more of a riddle, and then scolds them for giving the wrong answer. Which means that their IQs are low enough to qualify? All right, then. Ching Ching gives the chief his meds and goes to show the newbies around. The chief then asks Ching Ching what the meds are for and when he should take them, and she tells him to figure it out for himself. Hmmmm…
So, Ching Ching brings the guys down to a room with a lot of pots while telling them the daily schedule. It is a mixture of deceptively easy, questionably hands-off, and arguably busywork.
Anyways, Ching Ching brings the guys to Uncle Dragon. He uses sign language due to being mute. Ching Ching claims that it is so he can keep secrets. Okay. Lok asks what that thing on his head is. Ching Ching says that it is his hair. Indeed.
The three descend a ladder to Uncle Leung. Chun wonders if he is dead tries to ask Ching Ching, but she claims that it is too early for that. He suddenly wakes up screaming, so Ching Ching gets some sort of spittoon for him so that he can spit out…something. Then he returns to looking dead. She cleans his mouth with a towel and then gives it to Chun to wash as she walks off. Chun gives the towel to Lok, who stuffs it into Uncle Leung’s mouth.
Oh, and here’s Jane…also a staircase. They could have just gone around and used those stairs. Well, whatever. Bye Jane.
And under the stairs is Uncle Ben Chow, or Chow Tai Bun…or just Ben. He seems to think that Ching Ching is Jane for some reason.
Lok asks Ching Ching how many old people are in this place. Ching Ching answers four, five six. She explains that if Uncle Crab is mad, then he is more than one person. Apparently, he was once the greatest Chinese detective, but lost his mind after failing to catch the Golden Pig Thief. Oh, and here is Uncle Crab.
11:00 has arrived and it is time for Ching Ching to leave. She tells Chun to lock the door after she leaves, as the neighborhood isn’t safe for the elderly and someone wants to take down this place. Uh huh. Lok pulls up with a bicycle, offering to give Ching Ching a r…why are they wearing Star Trek outfits? Anyways, Ching Ching declines, asking only for the bike. She has some trouble starting, but she eventually rides off.
After Chun accidentally (maybe?) locks Lok outside, they get to…uh…putting chains around the wrists and ankles of the sleeping patients.
They then try to lock up the front entrance…only to find that everyone is already outside. Chun claims that they are fixing things, so Ben tells them to unclog the toilet. Leung tells them to…make the air-con colder or something. And Jane says that that there are mosquitoes in her room.
Well, everyone survived the night, I guess. Ching Ching has returned. Chun and Lok are still there working…and wearing those Star Trek outfits. Are these their uniforms? And who is this?
Anyways, Ching Ching brings up a pot of congee to the rooftop where everyone is. Lok tries to act helpful, so an annoyed Ching Ching tells him to distribute the congee to everyone. So, he takes the pot and serves with gusto.
Ching Ching’s annoyance at Lok is quickly replaced by her giddiness at a handsome stranger who is tending to the garden, she goes over to talk to him, but he seems to engage with her only out of obligation. Meanwhile, Lok is looking on with concern, no longer interested in serving the congee.
As the day goes by, Chun and Lok look around the place, trying to figure out a way to…do whatever they are trying to do to take over. I guess that Chun decides to kill them all by dumping a whole lot of salt in their food.
The chief comes back with a bunch of items that he says are…well, it is his usual nonsense, but the crew is tasked with incorporating them into the nursing home. I am not even going to tell what he intends to do with this.
Ching Ching tells the chief to stop shopping so much, as they don’t have that much money. The chief then wonders if he can pay Chun and Lok. Chun says that he has a friend who is making a DVD movie. He suggests that the elderly can be actors. The chief thinks that this is a great idea.
Ching Ching asks if there will be any movie stars. Lok says of course, and asks if she wants in. Yes…maybe. This may be the first time that Lok has done something that made her smile, though that proves to be temporary when he takes her hand. After they leave Chun by himself, Chun calls up a news organization. ooooOOOOoooo
So, Chun and Lok take the residents to the shoot. Chun gets to the set of the movie and calls up the news organization again, claiming that the On Hei Nursing Home are abusing the elderly by sending them here to be film extras, neglecting to mention that this was his idea. Also, it turns out that Lok has agreed to be one of the extras, while Chun is still in that Star Trek outfit.
When it gets dark, it is time to film the scene with the…$568,000 bathtub. Ooops. Perhaps due to perving on the scene’s main actor, Ben got out of position and blocked the very important shot before spitting (fake?) blood on her. Leung interrupts the second take with a short rant about the people making this movie ruining the Hong Kong film industry and then trying to cover the actor up with his bathrobe.
The third take seems to be going well until Ben somehow gets pushed back, knocking over some of the set and…setting a bed on fire. Everyone starts freaking out, but Director Yam demands that the camera keep rolling.
In the chaos, Chun sees that a photographer has showed up, so he gives Lok a wrench and tells him to beat Uncle Dragon with it. He doesn’t want to do it, but he eventually makes an attempt, which ultimately results in him getting thrown at the $568,000 bathtub and knocking it into the side of the building. Director Yam is so upset that she faints.
Lok and the elderly extras go back to the nursing home, still in their get-up. So, the chief thinks that they are badly injured. Well, Lok is sort of. He tells the chief about the $568,000 damage, and says that they can sell the nursing home to pay for the cost. The chief says that that is not necessary and Ben agrees, showing them a bunch of wallets that he stole from the set Leung says that Ben still fancies himself a master thief, but will get caught. Apparently, this is not the first time that Ben has stolen things while a resident at the nursing home, and the chief tells him to return the wallets immediately. Also, he stole a few bras…?
Well, it turns out that the story become not that On Hei was abusing its elderly residents, but that the elderly residents saved the actor, Ms. Ball Ball from a fire on set. On Hei has received praise and Ms. Ball Ball hopes that the industry will hire more elderly actors. And…I am not entirely sure what is going on here, but I guess that they are being interviewed a few days later. Ben and Leong are watching themselves on TV and Leong expresses skepticism regarding Ben’s kung fu skills.
Meanwhile, Ching Ching is fielding calls from random people who want to live in On Hei, including a little boy. Of course, she rejects them all. Jane even receives a call from Pauline, a former classmate. She wants to send her mother to On Hei…or move in herself. She offers to give Jane the $10 that she still owes her from decades back if Jane moves out. Yeah, Jane does not accept.
Neither Chun nor Lok are aware of this turn of events when Rainy Cloud calls to have a meeting, but he lets them know. And he threatens to kill them if they do not get him the nursing home.
The two go back to the nursing home that night. Chun is set to burn the whole place down. Lok is less enthusiastic about the idea. Regardless, it comes to nothing when the residents appear to throw Lok a surprise birthday party. How did they know? Oh, he put down his real info on his application, even though Chun had told him not to. In any case, the residents celebrate along with that handsome stranger, whose name is Fai, apparently. Lok starts to tear up, as this is the first time that anyone has celebrated his birthday.
Chun goes up to the roof to smoke a cigarette. And Leung finds him there. He says that he knows that Chun and Lok came to take down the nursing home. He warns Chun to not ignore them, as they all have unique skills. Big Ben was an expert thief. Jane claims to have been a superstar diva, but she was actually a pickpocket. Uncle Dragon worked at MI5 at the age of…12, and had poisoned himself until he turned mute in order to avoid…exposing the Queen’s secret. Crab used to be a detective and wrestler. Leung himself was the greatest swimmer for three generations. And the chief saved hundreds of lives as a Doctor Without Borders until too much exposure to warzones caused him to go crazy. Angry at himself for no longer being able to care for people abroad, he and his assistant, Ching Ching, returned to Hong Kong to take care of those whom he could. So, Leung warns Chun against trying to go against them. For if they join forces, they can dominate whoever they want. Meet God! Kill God!
Chun sarcastically says that he is really scared, and walks off.
This movie is part of a Hong Kong tradition of releasing a certain kind of film during the Lunar New Year. That certain kind of movie is usually a lowbrow light-hearted comedy that is outrageously silly, unabashedly nonsensical, mindlessly cornball, unabashedly sentimental, offensively crass, gleefully puerile, chaotically reassuring, and supposedly family-friendly…maybe? They are full of broad physical gags, actors who are pushing 40 behaving like children, parodies of Hollywood movies, parodies of movies that the actors themselves had starred in, esoteric local references, and groan-inducing wordplay that does not translate into Mandarin, let alone English. So…yeah.
This movie is, I suppose, medium fare when it comes to this kind of movie. Except for a couple of sequences, it does not get way too out there or even on a heightened level. Stephen Chow this is not. What I do like of it is its (mostly) harmless charm. It’s cute.
I am not sure exactly what came first, the script or the casting. For sure, the writer and director for this movie, Andrew Lam (or Lam Man-Chung), wanted to feature some veteran Hong Kong actors and cast himself as the chief. Still, it is a bit weird seeing Sammo Hung mostly confined to a wheelchair. And, while it is near-impossible to cast a Hong Kong movie without an actor who has also had a music career, it is a bit odd having Teddy Robin of all people not sing a song. It may be for this reason that people were not that fond of this film, even as a mindless Lunar New Year film: perhaps they were hyped to see a film featuring the actors of previous generations doing their thing, only to see them confined to Lam Man-Chung’s style. And having the story centered more on a couple guys in their late 30s did not help. Of course, since I came into this movie with no expectations, I was not really let down.
If you are looking for something…absolutely unchallenging to pass the time…this is around 95 minutes of your time. Yeah.
WTF ASIA 206: The Star Next Door (South Korea: 2017, approx. 98 minutes)
No Wikipedia Page
WTF ASIA 207: Brij Mohan Amar Rahe (India: 2019, approx. 100 minutes)