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Edan Lui (left) and Angela Yuen in a still from Chilli Laugh Story (Category IIA; Cantonese), directed by Coba Cheng. Ronald Cheng and Gigi Leung co-star.

Review | Chilli Laugh Story movie review: Mirror’s Edan Lui leads Lunar New Year comedy that mixes family antics, naughty jokes and social commentary

  • Mirror star Edan Lui’s first big-screen outing engages with the realities of post-protest, mid-pandemic Hong Kong – albeit in the silliest ways possible
  • The comedy – which co-stars Gigi Leung and Ronald Cheng – offers something for everyone, from Cantonese wordplay to dirty jokes and pop culture references

3.5/5 stars

Anyone seeking a window on life for the past two years in post-protest and mid-pandemic Hong Kong – a vaguely depressing experience – could do worse than watch Chilli Laugh Story.

An amusing and sometimes unexpectedly poignant comedy, it was intended for release at Lunar New Year before a wave of infections with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 earlier this year scuppered that plan.

Directed by first-time filmmaker Coba Cheng Tsun-hin from a screenplay he co-wrote with comedy veteran Matt Chow Hoi-kwong, Chilli Laugh Story is leaving its spicy impression on the Hong Kong box office. Fans are flocking to see the first big-screen outing of Edan Lui Cheuk-on, a popular member of Canto-pop sensation Mirror.

Lui plays Coba Cheung, a music festival promoter who is stuck at home with his parents – and no jobs to do – during the pandemic.
His father (Ronald Cheng Chung-kei) is an unemployed taxi driver who is so annoyingly talkative, he couldn’t keep a secret if his life depended on it; his stay-at-home mother (Gigi Leung Wing-kei) is devoted to making chilli sauce.
(From left) Gigi Leung, Ronald Cheng and Edan Lui in a still from Chilli Laugh Story.

Upon realising belatedly the amazing flavour of the sauce, made using a secret recipe from his mother’s hometown, Chaozhou in southern China, Coba decides to fulfil his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur by bottling and selling it online.

Cue a lot of bonding and bickering as Cheung’s family crank up production, and temporarily strike gold.

Those familiar with Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year comedy tradition will know the importance of families always sticking together – something Chilli Laugh Story inevitably underscores.
Sandra Ng in a still from Chilli Laugh Story.

Sandra Ng Kwan-yue, who also produced the film, adds to the festive mood as a wacky and supportive aunt, while emerging actress Angela Yuen Lai-lam, playing Coba’s girlfriend, is underused.

There is something for everyone to savour in this distinctly Hong Kong story, which serves up a welcome mix of Cantonese wordplay, dirty jokes and pop culture references.
There is also perceptive social commentary that touches on pandemic unemployment, Hong Kong people’s obsession with home ownership, and the ongoing emigration wave.
(From left) Ronald Cheng, Edan Lui and Gigi Leung in a still from Chilli Laugh Story.

A tip for pop culture fans: do stay until the end to catch some high-profile cameo appearances. Even if these gratuitous instances of fan service leave you cold, Chilli Laugh Story is still worth watching for its willingness to engage with the current reality of Hong Kong, albeit often in the silliest ways possible.

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