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Capsule Reviews

Frugal Game    (2002)
This is a comedy full of wit and satire and that mixes happily various topics. The main ones are ruthless TV producers whiling to make money at all costs, old-time righteousness nostalgia and the economic and social situations in HK. An unemployed father (Eric Tsang) hides his situation from his family by staying all day in a café. The unemployment rate seems to have exploded in HK since most of the café customers are in the same situation. Even the boss (Dodo Cheng) who gave Eric Tsang the sack got fired. They decide to get together in a real TV show in order to win the cash price. Despite its topics, Frugal Game is actually an optimistic and feel-good film with great pugnacious characters. Eason Chan is perfect as Tsui, a TV-series director who only believe in Wu Xia Pian (Chinese chivalry movies) and the values they used to convey. Veteran Ti Lung appears as a schizophrenic Wu Xia Pian actor. In real life he has the same chivalry spirit and the same old-fashioned gestures than in old-school films. Tsui respects him a lot and talks to him with much deference, which creates some of the most hilarious moments in the movie. Real-TV shows, scandals or affronts to human dignity on TV seem to be popular at the moment. Tsui characters seeks in the past of HK cinema a noble and generous spirit that apparently doesn't exists any more. That's probably why he wants to recover this spirit by making Wu Xia movies. Director Derek Chiu's final message is positive and encouraging since the rivals of the Frugal Game have preferred their relatives to money. There is not easy solutions and people have to work hard to achieve their goal. The whole family eventually opens a noodle shop, they work hard together and develop great ideas. It's the best way to solve problems for people undertaking hard times and for a film industry that keeps on declining. "Nothing is impossible for HK people!" they say.
Thomas Podvin 1/15/2003 - top

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