Tony Leung returns to the role that literally made
him famous in Hong Kong - that of the womanising scoundrel Wai Siu-bo.
Leung gave a very impressionistic performance as the thieving
scum-turned-powerful noble in the 1983 TV series "Duke of Mount Deer".
Film fans would be more aware of the Stephen Chow
effort entitled "The Royal Tramp", where we could see Chow lampooning
the novel for all its worth.
Hero - Beyond the boundary of time is similar in
style to The Royal Tramp, only it is set in modern times. Because Wai
Siu-bo is transported through time from 1700s Manchu China to the 1990s
of Hong Kong. The reason? He's on a mission to find a predestined woman,
bring her back so that she would become the wife of Emperor Kangxi, thus
effectively saving the dynasty and empire from destruction.
Seems pretty far-fetched, and the shabby plot
doesn't help either. The whole time travel idea is just a poor excuse to
get Siu-bo into the future, so that the audience can laugh at his
attempts at coping with the hectic demands of modern life. We see him
discover the joys of television, cars, brassieres, condoms, and
His initial landing in Hong Kong (more precisely,
in the northern new territories, close to the China border) causes the
local policemen to mistook him as an illegal immigrant from mainland
China. His weird colloquial speech and Manchu dress-robes doesn't help
his cause either. A run-in with a local beauty Ah Har (Ng Zhit-man),
because he peeped at her taking a shower, later leads to his infatuation
of her, and his constant pursuing of her is basically the whole film's
He has a friend in Ah Chiu (Dicky Cheung), who is
a policeman, but has huge debts. Chiu hopes that Siu-bo's wealth could
solve his financial problems, and Siu-bo hopes that with Chiu's
connections, he could help him to locate the woman predestined to become
the empress. I'm not going to tell you who it is, but with the shameful
plotting, you can easily guess who it is anyway. Well, to spice things
up a bit, two of Siu-bo's wives suddenly arrive from the past to help
him complete his mission, and it is suffice to say that it is starting
to get a little crowded.
The idea of transporting Siu-bo to the modern
metropolis is sound, but sadly, the execution is flawed. The whole plot
is nothing more than a hotpot of sexual innuendos and phallic
connotations. Some of the ideas seemed tacked on for lack of insight,
especially that of the ending. But worse of all, was Leung's
performance, which was way, way over-the-top, as he comes across as a
leering pervert than the lovable rogue he used to be.
There are some truly funny moments, but these are
few and far between, and the oft-times awful slapstick toilet humour
fails to trigger anything more than a snigger or two. Overall, I'd give
the film credit for being a bit original, but it lacks cohesion,
structure and humour; the acting's terrible as well. With a bit more
thoughtfulness (and a much better scriptwriter), this could have turned
out a whole lot better.
List Price: US $20.95
Cantonese / Mandarin
English / Traditional Chinese / Simplified Chinese
Letter Box, Dolby Digital
"Some Content May Be Inappropriate For
Children" (roughly equal to an MPPA rating of
"PG-13") Films rated Category IIA may contain
mild violence such as martial arts, mild nudity that is
not sexually oriented, mild explicit language and some
mild adult situations.