Film review: Girl of the Big House by Wong Jing - fun for 5-year-olds
This candy-coloured production with echoes of Hollywood’s Home Alone – minus the thrills – remains a flight of fancy that will probably be a snooze for adults
Veteran filmmaker Wong Jing’s plans to conquer the China film market with his brand of low-brow commercial films take a turn for the innocuous with Girl of the Big House, which may amuse very young kids and few others. Written and produced by Wong, the family-friendly action comedy is directed by his long-time associate Aman Chang, whose directing credits include the B-movies The Conman 2002, Raped by an Angel 2 and 3, and He is My Enemy, Partner and Father-in-Law.
Chubby six-year-old Bowie (Angela Wang Shiling, inexpressive) is the only daughter of Hong Kong banker Neil (Francis Ng Chun-yu in a moustache), who despite having inherited his deceased parents’ sizeable fortune continues to lead a jet-setting career alongside his doting wife (Miriam Yeung Chin-wah), frequently leaving their child in the sole care of butler Aunt Kim (Yuen Qiu, who has rarely been seen without her hair curlers since her breakout role in 2004’s Kung Fu Hustle).
Just when Bowie is about to celebrate her birthday, her parents are stuck on another overseas business trip. Meanwhile, Neil’s no-good elder brother, Dave (Ng in a curly hairdo), is fresh out of prison and has his sights set on a priceless painting inside the family chateau. Though he easily turns off the security system, all hell breaks loose when Dave’s two accomplices turn out to be subordinates of Mr Brutal (Jim Chim Sui-man), a cartoonish villain who proceeds to rob the house and kidnap Bowie.
The home invasion premise sounds like Home Alone but offers none of its thrills. While musical interludes by Canto-pop band Grasshopper add a touch of surrealism, this candy-coloured production remains a flight of fancy that will probably be a snooze for adults. The inclusion of a robot named Wiley – bringing to mind Baymax’s combat model in Big Hero 6 – does little more than feed Wong’s obsession with domesticated robots, as in iGirl and the From Vegas to Macau films.
Girl of the Big House opens on August 4
Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook