Magic Boy (2007)
Directed by: Adam Wong
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Nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards 2008:
Leggo (Anjo Leung) delivers take away for a living but always stops to put a smile on his environment via his magic tricks. Not setting any goals as of yet of making a career, he still vows to woo sales-girl Wing (Kate Yeung) by bothering her every day. Eventually winning her over, when Leggo's friend Hei (Tsui Tin-Yau), who has magic as his trade, gets involved, Wing is torn between the sunny/gloomy/mature/wise sides that make up both guys...
Still tackling youth romance but moving up a little through the ages, new and upcoming director Adam Wong (When Beckham Met Owen) continues to surprise and delight. Once again backed by great industry figure Eric Tsang, Wong plays in the video arena once more but makes sure to overpower any limitations of that format in a sweet tale furthering themes set in his debut. It's much about how you live in your particular shell, which makes Magic Boy easily digestible, expected and challenging at the same time.
Tackling reality but making sure to add colour to the proceedings by making initial sequences surreal in the way Leggo uses magic, it will be a tool of great dramatic importance later. Rampant voice over playing on top of opening credits is even non-intrusive despite being clearly exposition in order to set up the distinct character traits of our male leads. Smoothly injected and subsequently well-handled makes sure Adam Wong doesn't get a bad grade via the tool. As the dvd back cover blurb spells out, it's carefree optimism vs. charismatic wisdom in Leggo and Hei respectively but here's a tale that we, as opposed to the trickier When Beckham Met Owen, can smell from miles away yet be delighted by as it neatly avoids any nice guys finish last-sentiments as all characters are good folks. But the true man will surely be the most attractive with a combo of both Leggo and Hei while the female counterpart in this case plays along and adjust to the traits forming a red heart.
Wong's style is colourful, playful and totally sensible with his subject Leggo at center. Newcomer Anjo Leung is mostly irresistible (and is developing into a fine magician in real life too) but this "in it for the fun only"-attitude is clearly signs of a sensitive young man. He will be able to charm but will he be able to live in a shell that breathes adult at least a few percent? Clear is though, the boy is magical and Adam Wong uses Leggo's personal magic for his own personal magic in the creation of several neat sequences detailing Leggo's love for the art, love for his optimism and hopefully a love for embracing development in life.
The eventual triangle that occurs feels real and never seems to want to spiral into evil. These characters talk and come to conclusions that adheres to that reality. All within a bubbly Hong Kong city landscape where Wong shows the gift of capturing a land he loves. With inspiring characters in the way they takes cues from one another and inspiring, fresh direction that has at the time of writing has landed Adam Wong a Best New Director nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards, Magic Boy plods little new paths. It's in your face slaps and subtle tickling of our emotional center so it's time now to rise up people and notice that there is actual local flavour left and being born in Hong Kong cinema, however unoriginal it all may feel. The independent market it may still be but unbelievable magic is to be found. From filmmakers with sincerity, heart and support, Adam Wong is on his way to a full on enchantment of his audience.
Panorama presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.76:1. The video image is colourful and fairly sharp.
The Cantonese Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 track is lively at suitable times and presents all aspect of the soundtrack in a clear manner. A Mandarin 2.0 selection is also available.
The English subtitles are mostly error free and coheres all the way through. A set of Chinese subtitles are also included. Only extra is the trailer.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson