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Chinese language cinema

Concerto of the Bully film review: Ronald Cheng, Cherry Ngan in music-themed kidnap comedy

This unrealistic story of a kidnapped star songwriter and a street thug who is calmed by her music is saved by the comic chemistry between the leads

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 6:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 6:03pm

3/5 stars

It boggles my mind to think that this is already the third Hong Kong film in as many years – after the abysmal pair of Kidnap Ding Ding Don and Rhapsody of Kidnapping – to wrap its central comedic plot around a laughably unconvincing case of kidnapping. Granted, it also doesn’t say much to note that Concerto of the Bully – a nominee in four categories at this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards – is the best of the lot.

Far less effective as a kidnap drama than it is an escapist fantasy on the power of music and dreams, the third directing effort by regular Stephen Chow screenwriter Fung Chih-chiang tells the story of Yung (Ronald Cheng Chung-kei, a surprise best actor nominee for the part), a street hooligan whose emotional outbursts could only be soothed by good music – especially that by an internet songwriter named Hit Girl.

Actress Cherry Ngan on Concerto of the Bully, and how she’s now a pop singer with an eye on theatre

Soon after he is involved in his clueless pals’ (Philip Keung Ho-man and Michael Ning) plot to kidnap Jamie (Cherry Ngan Cheuk-ling), the girlfriend of a rising pop star, Yung begins to spend his days watching over her on a remote fish farming raft off Sai Kung. Then he discovers that Jamie is indeed Hit Girl, and the film follows Yung as he goes to absurd lengths to help her finish composing her one hit song to date.

While its utterly unrealistic story may turn away some of its more cynical audiences, the film does have its moments as a music-themed comedy, facilitated to a great extent by the spontaneous charm of Cheng and Ngan. A stand-out scene sees Yung – with the help of music, of course – turn a crew of violent thugs into a modern dance troupe in his own mind. Concerto of the Bully makes a curious diversion.

Concerto of the Bully opens on March 1

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