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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Always Be With You – Louis Koo in mildly amusing Troublesome Night reboot

Koo is joined by Charlene Choi and Julian Cheung in this 20th anniversary edition of the popular low-budget horror franchise, that is neither scary nor hilarious, but will amuse some with its dark morbidity

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 October, 2017, 5:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 7:15pm

2.5/5 stars

It has been 20 years since the first Troublesome Night launched a surprisingly popular horror series, which only fizzled out with its 19th film in 2003. Since then, Louis Koo Tin-lok has become one of Hong Kong’s top film stars, Herman Yau Lai-to has proven himself a most reliable commercial director, and the horror genre has been in decline for being a non-starter for Hong Kong-China co-productions.

Reuniting Yau and Koo with series producer Nam Yim and mainstay Helena Law Lan, Always Be With You marks the 20th anniversary of the low-budget horror-comedy franchise with a reboot so distinctly mediocre, it feels right at home next to the many Troublesome Night films we didn’t mind watching again on TV reruns over the years.

The film begins with a car crash caused by a taxi driver (Julian Cheung Chi-lam), who is drinking himself to oblivion after a terminal cancer diagnosis. While he survives, the fiancé of a nurse (Charlene Choi Cheuk-yin) does not. When she channels her grief into opening a seaside resort, the haunted house becomes such a hotspot for suicidal guests that the driver feels like it’s his calling to dispose of the bodies.

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In another of the film’s loosely connected stories, a crematorium worker (Lam Ka-tung) who steals funerary objects from the dead to settle his gambling debts finds people dying in fatal accidents wherever he goes. Meanwhile, a married police couple (Koo and Charmaine Sheh Sze-man) stumble across a possessed vinyl record which keeps returning to their bedroom after every time they get rid of it.

While neither scary nor funny enough, Always Be With You does bring back the sense of faint amusement familiar to the series. Although the film’s humour is largely restricted to Koo’s exaggerated delivery and Lam Suet’s adorable portrayal of a grieving uncle, Yau’s haphazard story often gets so absurdly morbid, that it may just work as a pitch-black comedy for viewers in the right frame of mind.

Always Be With You opens on October 26

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