Family-Day (1990)

Produced & directed by: Stanley Fung
Written by: Chan Fai-Hung & Jeng Jak-Faat
Starring: Stanley Fung, Kent Cheng, Carrie Ng, Chow Mei-Fung, Yi Ma Suk-Jan, Gregory Lee, Wan Ji-Chung & Wilson Lam

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Low-class Cop Wong (Stanley Fung) not only is trying to secure a wife within his family via the relationship with May (Chow Mei-Fung) but is also tracking pickpocket Fatty (Kent Cheng). Fatty isn't raking in the bucks via this hidden side profession though so it's getting harder to both lie and support his wife (Carrie Ng) and aging mother (Yi Ma Suk-Jan). The sons of the respective families end up befriending each other in school and the adults will too, unbeknownst to Wong and Fatty. Some time the men must end up meeting each other though and will hell break loose then?

Dry, dimwitted, not often witty "funny man" Stanley Fung did dabble in some directing work, one of which at least is notable for being unexpected coming from him. The Golden Harvest horror flick The Phantom Killer was a fine delight but Family-Day goes the straight route where you're not surprised at the audio/visual ride offered up. It just looks like a whole host of other flicks but by being local, uniquely local even, gems have been created. Local Family-Day is, down to earth even and contains only minor tone changes so here Stanley Fung goes for balanced drama intentions and ends up creating a not so much poignant but thoughtful portrayal of the desperate working class.

Not without its wackiness, which you could expect from the male leads, but structurally Fung deals with this early and it also is structurally correct to do so. Detailing similar yet different situations in two respective households, in his own he's trying to set in stone a mom figure for him and his son Chung. A son that gets his time in the dad spotlight but is not being encouraged very much in his studies. At the other end of the spectrum Kent Cheng's Fatty may have a known pickpocket in his family but he does conceal the source of income from his beloved ones (the son here is an excellent student despite). It's about being a family provider, a common man and for Fatty to live by principles of only robbing excessively money-packed tourists. With cop Wong on his tail, it doesn't make it any less awkward that the two families are becoming friends as well. You see a moral dilemma somewhere in this script?

Utilizing actually the best of himself and his male co-star, Stanley Fung, aside from shooting matters very straight and earthy thankfully, has a fine way in Family-Day of handing out the dry wit, the dry clumsy humour if you will but he is not the worst of cops in terms of instinct. Low-rent though and there is no promotion looming. You have to bust some criminals to do so. After flooding the apartment of Fatty's accidentally, the Family Day itself proves to be a centre of the film, a turning point that will have Fung directing matters fairly low-key and dramatic. There is and should be no room for any more slapstick and this himself and his cast is more than ready for.

While the score pushes matters overly hard on a sentimental level and some scenes towards the end are directed in melodramatic fashion times ten, Family-Day presents a simple, often pleasant and human tale of the desperation, how crazy it may seem, that can occur when you ARE thinking straight and not at the same time. Letting his more established actor Kent Cheng embody this quite beautifully in spots, Fung himself shows chops as director and that the likes of The Lunatics (his finest acting performance) wasn't braindeath embodied. Inject a Carrie Ng sans any glamour and quite perfectly embodying the house wife role plus a wacky old granny portrayed wonderfully by Yi Ma Suk-Jan, Family-Day presents focused Hong Kong cinema. We like that too.

The DVD:

Mega Star presents the movie in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with anamorphic enhancement. A dirty and grainy print partially, aside from some scenes with overly pink tones, the transfer is clear with acceptable colours for a catalogue title not blessed with remastering.

The Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 selection sounds clear for all intents and purposes. A Mandarin 2.0 dub is also included.

Riddled with quite a high number of spelling errors, there are a handful of moments in the English subtitles that are lost on the viewer but overall the translation is coherent. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also included. Extras come in the form of the trailer, the synopsis in text and a cast & crew listing.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson