Film review: 12 Golden Ducks - infectiously funny romp
12 Golden Ducks
Starring: Sandra Ng Kwan-yu, Anthony Wong Chau-sang, Philip Keung Hiu-man, Babyjohn Choi, Wilfred Lau Ho-lung, Louis Koo Tin-lok
Director: Matt Chow Hoi-kwong
Category: IIB (Cantonese, Thai and English)
Early on in her career, Sandra Ng Kwan-yu made the ugly duckling role her own in star-studded ensemble comedies like Holy Weapon and Boys Are Easy. Unable to compete in the beauty department with age-mates such as Maggie Cheung Man-yuk (who also appeared in both those 1993 movies), Ng intelligently forged her own path to success – notably by playing a prostitute with a heart of gold in Golden Chicken (2002) and Golden Chicken 2 (2003).
Last year, Ng tried her hand at producing as well as starring in Golden Chickensss, which saw her Golden Chicken character develop into a mamasan. On the back of that mega commercial hit, the comedy specialist now has made an even more outrageous leap by playing a gigolo – colloquially known in Cantonese as a “duck” the way that “chicken” means prostitute – in 12 Golden Ducks. Put another way: the ugly duckling’s turned into a golden duck.
Even when he was a young boy, Future Cheung (Ng made up to look like a man) had a way with the opposite sex – thanks in no small part to his realising that flattery can get you almost anywhere with women. So it seemed inevitable that he’d go on to make a career as a professional pleaser of women: specifically, a gigolo.
But after he falls for, and is duped by, a client, Future goes to seed and is in less than peak physical condition when, first a former classmate (Michelle Loo Mik-suet), then sympathetic ex-teacher Mr Lo (Anthony Wong Chau-sang), find him in a Thai gigolo bar.
Inspired by a pep talk from Mr Lo (who also knows a thing or two about making women happy), Future returns to Hong Kong to try to revive his career. After being whipped into shape by gym-trainer stud Rocky (Louis Koo Tin-lok) and given a makeover by eccentric hairstylist Kenji (Eason Chan Yik-shun), he ventures once more into the world of male escorts – this time in the company of fellow aspiring golden ducks, amusingly portrayed by Philip Keung Hiu-man, Wilfred Lau Ho-lung and Babyjohn Choi Hon-yik.
With a cast billed as “Sandra Ng and friends”, 12 Golden Ducks is full of familiar faces, all of whom appear to been having a ball when making this movie. The goodwill and good cheer is infectious. And so is the laughter that often fills the air, including upon beholding an astonishing scene which has Ng and guest stars Ivana Wong Yuen-chi and Wyman Wong Wai-man earnestly delivering whole lines of dialogue in Thai.
Best of all is that director-scriptwriter Matt Chow’s film also contains heartwarming moments along with rib-tickling sequences, with standouts among them being the tender scenes involving a lonely old woman (Lisa Lu Yan) and the bittersweet story of an ex-schoolmate with a secret crush for Future that has survived into adulthood.
12 Golden Ducks opens on February 19