Gameboy Kids (1992)

Directed by
Great in parts, not in others
Reviewed by Simon on 2005-11-13

Andy Lau's Teamwork Productions created this unusual vehicle for him, where he has dual roles... as a retard and a midget! (apologies for the politically incorrect language).

When a Triad boss dies, he tells his underlings that he wants the business to go to his illegitimate son, a mafia don in Italy (midget Andy). Due to a mix-up at the airport, Andy 2 (who has a full-sized body but a child-sized mind) ends up being taken back to Hong Kong and put in charge of the largest Triad group there - a group in which a power struggle has been initiated by the Dai Lo's death. Andy's in mortal danger, when all he really wants to do is play with his toys. Luckily Aaron Kwok is on hand, as the Dai Lo's right hand man charged with protecting his son.

The film occasionally recalls Teamwork's Saviour Of The Soul, in the erratic mix of action, drama and stupid comedy - but it doesn't have that film's exceptional production design and cinematography. There's a lot of goofiness, with Ng Man-Tat and Sandra Ng hamming it up as one branch of the triad family, with Andy clowning along with them - whilst the rest of the cast mostly play it straight. Rosamund Kwan is the love-interest, and Yuen Wo-Ping has a nice role as her father. I guess Danny Poon is the malevolent and power-hungry young Dai Lo who causes most of the strife.

This is the sort of film that Stephen Chiau would have turned into gold, but Andy Lau isn't as charismatic a comic - and though he's matured into a fine actor now, the same can't be said of him in 1992. Credit to him for playing two quite embarrassing parts in this film though, rather than relying on his cool & handsome persona (and hair).

The script is the sort of daft nonsense that Hong Kong practically invented, and there are some great moments, but others just made this viewer cringe. The subtitles on the Universe DVD are a poor translation (though not as bad as those for SAVIOUR), which probably kills a lot of the comedy for the non-Cantonese viewer. I'd probably have enjoyed it a lot more if I saw it when I was first getting into Hong Kong cinema and watching a lot more of this sort of thing - I don't know why I passed it over at the time.

The film is not very action-heavy, but there's a few inspired scenes from Yuen Tak, master of the comic-book wirework style. Nothing that can match his insane work in Black Panther Warriors or Dragon From Russia though. Rosamund is obviously doubled for a lot of her action - a shame they didn't cast somebody who could do her own moves - but Andy seems to pull off some impressive stuff by himself. He's clearly doubled at times though.

GAMEBOY KIDS is definitely a fun film, but lacks that certain something that can make films from the era truly wonderful. It's a shame the film didn't focus on Midget Andy instead of Idiot Andy - his scenes were truly cool, but unfortunately too brief (not surprisingly, as it's a lot cheaper to film a full-grown man acting like a kid than looking like one!).

Generally it's a film with some great scenes but spread out in a less-than-great whole. Entertaining enough to see once, at least, though :)