Mighty Baby (2002)
by: Patrick Leung & Chan Hing-Kar
are always hard to do when it's predecessor is of high quality.
There are examples in Hollywood where sequels have been equally
good or even better than the first movie (Terminator 2 & Aliens springs to mind) and in Hong Kong that has
happened as well (Once Upon A Time In China 2). La
Brassiere was a very well done romantic comedy thanks to
the team both in front and behind the camera and for it's quick
sequel most of the team is back on board again.
Johnny (Lau Ching Wan from Big Bullet) and Wayne (Louis Koo from Dry Wood Fierce Fire) this time tackles the task of creating the ultimate product for new born babies, something which isn't all that easy especially since Wayne is terrified of babies...
The plot, as you've probably noticed, is very similar to the first movie only this time it's babies not bras. To be honest I could've done without a sequel to La Brassiere since it was so fun and endearing and it didn't need to continue further after the final frame had rolled by. Mighty Baby therefore is of course an attempt to squeeze a little bit more out of the romantic comedy formula. I'm not saying it's a complete failure but if anything I have to describe it as uneven. Even if it helps a bit regarding the understanding and relationships between the main characters, you don't have to have seen the first movie prior to this one. Directors Patrick Leung and Chan Hing-Kar structures the film in an almost identical way as the first one, which seems logic since it indeed was a quick sequel. We follow Johnny and Wayne through their more or less failed attempts at creating the Mighty Baby-product and in between we get to see the love complications they encounter. Through all this the director's do not draw attention to themselves. Their style is really no style at all but they make sure, like all directors should be doing, that the story is told right. It's only in the more crazy and whacky moments in the film that they play around with the camera angles and this was also something that was found and done very well in the first film (remember the leading men's entrance into the office?). Of course these scenes didn't fit into the logic of it all but they become part of the charm that was La Brassiere.
Much is the same in Mighty Baby but either due to lack of good ideas or commitment, Patrick Leung and Chan Hing-Kar can't make it click as well this time around. They have elements for some great comedic situations but I felt that there were not much left to do in the sequel. Maybe the pressure to deliver the movie to the studio was also big so in the end certain aspects weren't all that polished. There are still a number of moments of silliness that are very funny and creative but also at times quite a few comedic bits fall flat. In La Brassiere it was fun to follow Johnny and Wayne from being quite shallow to gaining an understanding of women. Here more or less the same things are addressed with the babies but it's not as clearly told by the guys in the director's chairs. They seem to have a hard time maintaining a thread and a solid pace throughout the movie and they almost lose the main plot when they try too hard to emulate the first film with the different comedy bits. I could say that the editing was a little off but Chan Kai-Hop probably did his best of the sometimes disjointed material. It's not that bad really but looking at how La Brassiere turned out, it's a little disappointing that Patrick Leung and Chan Hing-Kar kind of lost their flow in the sequel. Some of the humour that I found boring could be due to me not knowing Cantonese and not getting the humour so to say. For example I was totally lost in most of the scenes involving the hypnotist Raymond Kim but someone out there perhaps can explain a little bit more if it was something I didn't pick up on.
Scenes that work the best are the ones with Cecilia Cheung (from King Of Comedy) and Rosamund Kwan (from Once Upon A Time In China) alone with our respective leading men. The love portion of the film kind of takes place here and a few moments are really nicely done and well played out. Especially Cecilia can make any man melt with her smile and her in a role as an expert in communicating with babies is a good choice. Always beautiful Rosamund Kwan has a pretty thankless and sloppily written role as Lau Ching Wan's all around confused secretary. However after she drops her glasses her role becomes more sweet. Rosamund still looks stunning but the role as written is far from consistent in terms of what the character goes through. Carina Lau (who merely has an extended cameo) and Gigi Leung aren't featured prominently and therefore doesn't shine as bright as they did in La Brassiere, which is a shame I think.
Lau Ching Wan and Louis Koo (who still hasn't cut his hair or gotten less sun) manages, for most of the time, to bring with them from the first installment, the charm and playfulness of their characters and they certainly go all out to manage to hold together this film. But they have to act in most of the scenes that are slow paced and generally average and not even the best actor in the world can elevate such scenes every time. Talking about the technical side of things I remember La Brassiere being a real piece of eye candy thanks to DP Fletcher Poon and in Mighty Baby he doesn't disappoint. The stars look are very professionally photographed and the fun production- and costume design is nicely highlighted thanks to Fletcher's work.
I thought Mighty Baby was an ok film in terms of fun and entertainment. Maybe you shouldn't set the bar so high when it comes to sequels but I was still a little disappointed by some of the sloppy aspects of the production. Romantic comedy is a genre that works well in the cinema in Hong Kong right now so Mighty Baby probably isn't the first movie of that kind that feature unpolished traits.Watch La Brassiere first and then go into Mighty Baby with low expectations. It'll probably work for you that way.
Mei Ah are getting the hang of it. The 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer looks excellent and is only let down by some mild grain and I spotted a small nugget of edge enhancement in a few scenes. Print damage is kept to a minimum but is noticeable when it does appear.
The Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 track sounds very good throughout. Dialogue is crystal clear and music branches out nicely in the different speakers. Also available is a Mandarin 5.1 dub.
Subtitles are clear and easy to read with no apparent spelling or grammatical errors. A word or two went missing in some sentences and the font feels slightly big (as opposed to the dvd of La Brassiere where the subs were a bit too small). Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles can also be choosen.
A few extras appear in the wonderful animated menu's. The making of (9 minuets) has no subs but comes with a few funny behind the scenes shots involving the variety of babies used. Watch one whack Louis Koo in the head with a microphone for example. We also get the teaser trailer with Lau Ching Wan and Louis Koo dressed up as footballs (to coincide with this years World Cup perhaps?). The theatrical trailer follows which has optional subtitles inclucing English, a fact that is rare on trailers featured on HK dvd's. A synopsis plus a cast & crew listing finishes off the disc.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson