Golden Chicken (2002)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - May 31, 2002 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 106 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Samson Chiu's Golden Chicken, while chock-full of culturally specific references and Cantonese puns that outsiders will probably miss, is still an enjoyably goofy, bawdy romp that also, in the character of Kam (Sandra Ng), offers a fairly cogent metaphor for Hong Kong's evolution in the decades leading up to the turnover to the Chinese and beyond. Kam's adjustment to the political and economic changes Hong Kong goes through is highlighted by Chiu's frequent inserts of news coverage of salient events, which are occasionally remarked on directly by Kam as she tells her story to the despondent James Bong (Eric Tsang). While the film offers some sociopolitical insight, its entertainment value derives mainly from Ng's tremendous gifts, as she delivers a vivacious and nuanced turn as Kam goes through her ups and downs. Though her behavior is often morally questionable, as when she seduces a rich businessman in order to have him become a father to her illegitimate child, Kam's offbeat charm and her essential humanity shine through in Ng's inspired performance. Chiu changes gears effectively and keeps up the film's bouncy pace, never letting things get too grim or maudlin, and Ng's high energy helps in this regard as well. She gets good support from Wu Kwan, and from H.K. stalwarts Eric Tsang and Tony Leung, but this is Ng's show. It's a challenging role, as Kam ages from a naïve teen (okay, the pigtails aren't wholly convincing) to a wiser, wearier, but still upbeat middle-aged woman. Highlights include her spot-on Jackie Chan impression and her fleeting but unforgettable romance with a mysterious stranger (Wu). The ending has a deus ex machina quality, but in this instance, it feels earned.