Story: Triad boss Hung (Yuen Biao) is fatally ill. His death wish is, that his son Georgie (Daniel Wu)
no one knew about and who now lives in Thailand, becomes his successor.
8th Master (Law Kar-Ying) knows, that the fact that Georgie is gay has to be kept a secret. He travels to Thailand and mistakes Georgie's rome-mate Sam (Eason Chan) for Hung's son. Sam now sees his chance to make his dream come true and finally become a gangster boss. He begs his friend Georgie, who doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps anyway, to change roles with him. Before they realize it, they both end up in Hong Kong and Sam enjoys his new life as triad boss Georgie. But his first problems appear soon enough. Hung had some rivalry with triad boss Fai (Chan Wai-Man), because in Fais gang someone died due to some unlucky circumstances. The dispute, nevertheless, had been put aside without further blodshedding. The only one left unhappy with this decision is the victim's son Chow (Stephen Fung), who has become the right hand of Fai and plans to take revenge on Hung's son...
Review: The title of the movie may be misleading. Actually, "Enter the Phoenix" is no martial arts movie or a
parody of the genre. Actor Stephen Fung tries to convince the critics with his debut as a director by delivering
a mixture of action, comedy and drama. Fung shows with his movie, that he is pretty skilled in doing movies of all
three genres. Sadly, as a whole his movie doesn't work, because he just tries to pack to much into it at once.
The story of "Enter the Phoenix" is not bad and the characters are also drawn quite nicely. Especially Daniel Wu is really convincing as gay Georgie. Of course, there are some gags about his sexual orientation, which may be obnoxious for some viewers, but a few of them aren't that bad. The role change also adds to the comedy part of the movie and the typical confusion that comes with it isn't missing neither.
To deliver some nice jokes is mainly Law Kar-Ying's and Chapman To's job. As father and son they are playing a funny duo and are never lacking in giving some stupid comments.
Apart from Eason Chan who is giving a decent performance, Stephen Fung is also quite believable as Chow, although his character often seems a little bit too much stereotyped. Karen Mok, unfortunately is just an insignificant part of the predictable love triangle.
Besides, the movie features some nice cameos, for example Yuen Biao who plays the triad boss at the beginning, or a suprising appearance at the end of a well-known action star, who is not only popular in Hong Kong. Well, probably I already said too much...
The direction is done with a visible self confidence by Stephen Fung. The cuts are fast, but nonetheless the movie also has its dramatic moments, even if it's not for long, because the next mood change is right around the corner, where the next joke is awaiting us, too. And that's just what can be quite a nuisance. The story about Georgie is told pretty good, and especially the relationship with his father has to get some credit for its moments, which are not unlikely to those of a good-working drama. Unfortunately, that's mostly the exact same moment when the comedy starts to kick in again, destroying everything that was build up. "Enter the Phoenix" tries to be too much at the same time, and thus can't thoroughly succeed in any area.
This doesn't mean, that you won't be entertained. Even though not every joke works the way they were intended to, you can't hide a constant smile. The world of the triads is captured pretty cool, including black suits and sunglasses, and some scenes can even be quite touching.
The soundtrack is also above average, however, there is some heavy covering to be noticed. It's a little bit irritating, if the one moment you hear a track from the "Matrix" OST and the next you recognize a song from "Kill Bill", which are only alternated very minimally.
Apart from that, the ending has also to be criticized. Out of the blue, we get to know that Georgie learned martial arts in Thailand, and instantly we are thrown into a final fight between him and Chow. The battle is quite nice to watch and solidly choreographed, but the clashing of styles, which is even intensified by overdone wire-fu, throws this anyway not successful genre-mix completely off balance.
"Enter the Phoenix" has some serious flaws, but nevertheless succeeds in entertaining the viewer. The actors are convincing, the production looks quite expensive and the mistake-one-for-another story delivers enough funny moments to keep you interested. The drama-part also works pretty well on its own, but all in all everything seems to be rather half baked.
Let's hope that Stephen Fung concentrates on only one genre with his next project, because he proves to be talented. His debut can guarantee for an entertaining evening, if not for anything else.