I.T. Story (2004)

Directed by: Andrew Kam
Written by: Benny Wong & Lung Chi Kit
Producer: Benny Wong
Starring: Simon Loui, Halina Tam, Four Tse, Yau Hong, Lau Fi Fi, Tsui Ping, Lau Tong Li & Li Tin

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

After having drunk woman May (Halina Tam) fall down into the sewer where underground worker Tony (Simon Loui) is stationed for the night, he gets slapped with a lawsuit for indecent assault. All unjustly orchestrated by May's cousin Helen but both females do hate men with a vengeance. May is open to change her ways though. Tony also has the problem of finding true love, manifesting itself through a fear of going out on a limb and finding it. He takes a job at a matchmaking agency to gain access to possible candidates but one day, while dialing the wrong number, May reaches Tony's cubicle and they strike up chemistry over the phone...

An infrequent but highly underrated director of equally underrated 90s action fare such as Fatal Termination and Heart Of Killer, the latter was his last film until briefly re-surfacing with I.T. Story, long after the gunplay had done its thing on a constant basis. Starring one of Hong Kong cinemas biggest whores (but somewhat talented on occasion. See Killing End) Simon Loui (1*), he tries his luck at being a romantic lead for this one. However it's a product lacking both romance and comedy. It's also a product that structures itself around those elements so there you have a big clue as to where this review is heading.

I have to admit I find it hard to be inspired when faced with an end product like I.T. Story but I'm also the one to blame. In a way I just wanted to see Andrew Kam direct something but not necessarily something genre bound and anyone would certainly be happy if a favourite director of theirs just made a quality flick. There probably never was that opportunity in Benny Wong and Lung Chi Kit's script but blame still should be directed towards all crucial personnel involved (including the focus puller!).

It's a story of rampant feminism where hate towards all men has become a lifestyle but of course that will change by the time we reach the end. There's also the male spectrum of the story, centering around our underground worker. In itself workable symbolism but Kam never treats it as symbolism he can work quirkiness or subtlety out of. Simon Loui's Tony may be scarred and divided between fright and need for love, something that can play in Loui's favour as he can look mundane in that regard. All the things the character is however is only there because the script says so and Loui is just looking extremely bored in reality.

In all honesty, there are actual truths about how men and women work on display but it doesn't matter how philosophical the script goes on us. It's still uttered by exaggerated, extremely boring characters that Kam tries to convince us are worth following. It is an art to work magic out of exaggeration but those comedic elements and really the entire movie is a case of filmmakers hoping that by featuring such elements, everything will automatically be solved. And expectedly, events and connections start to make less sense as we move along but care has seized by this point. The only possible duty left is to try and follow through on the 90 minutes of limp romance and "fun".

But I'm always willing to give Hong Kong movies the benefit of the doubt as some just magically explode at later points to reveal something worthwhile. Chances are that the subplot with Tony's co-worker Yung could be a sweet one (the actress certainly is) but that's never anyone's intention. Instead more boring skits, some expected final developments of bad natured characters gets ticked off the checklist and this is then supposed to be a fulfilling experience?! Who were they trying to sell this to as I.T. Story possesses no market value whatsoever....unless there's an unknown Simon Loui worshipping cult I'm not aware of? That can be a scary thought. There is some very minor spark late in the game however, where Simon's insecurities as a character plays well with his bloodhound face and Kam is suitably natural with his camera to make these moments work. However he wraps things up so quickly and in such a lazy way that any merit the film had for a good 27 seconds gets dumped under the toxic direction of Kam's.

So I've spared you, even though no one would ever go near I.T. Story anyway and the fact that this awful excursion into the rom/com genre got made means that 1-5 viewers would be enough to turn a profit. The filmmakers are on their way to the bank then. I truly believe Andrew Kam does have a place still but it's easy to say he left his greatest motivation back in Heart Of Killer. Get focused, start juggling ideas in that state of mind and you might have something, Andrew. There's support for you at least amongst a small band of admirers. You won't get any for I.T. Story though.

The DVD:

Asia Video Publishing presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.63:1 approximately. Print is dark, slightly murky and colours pale considering it's a recent production.

The poorly post-synched Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 track sounds clear but presents no range. 4-5 dropouts in the audio creates a distraction whenever they occur. A Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 dub track is also included.

The English subtitles are puzzling at points but relatively easy to get through nonetheless. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also available. No extras.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson

(1). As the story goes, Simon also has had a hand in writing, producing and directing (Escape From Hong Kong Island). Has prominently been a contributor to the long running Troublesome Night series for instance.