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Original Title:
Gwai ma kwong seung kuk

Hong Kong 2004


Wai Ka-Fai

Lau Ching-Wan
Cecilia Cheung
Louis Koo
Francis Ng
Jordan Chan
Charlene Choi
Gillian Chung
Christy Chung
Michael Hui

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Story: Michael (Lau Ching-Wan) is a private detective and together with his subordinates Sam (Louis Koo) and Fugu (Jordan Chan) he works on some rather bizarre cases. One day Harmy Bobo (Cecilia Cheung) ends up in their office after jumping out of a lamp. She is now searching for the person who called her out of the lamp for her to fulfill his three wishes. This proves to be a lot more difficult than expected, because Harmy just lost her magic powers, resp. has to struggle with a casting delay. Michael, who believes that she is just crazy, kicks her out of his office.
In an alley Harmy gets robbed by rogue Kin (Francis Ng). Harmy also loses her twin cousins, the Chopstick-Sisters (Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung). The person who licks on these magic chopsticks is getting imitated by them. Kin finds these chopsticks and so they soon transform into the Chopstick sisters. With his two new "female fellows" Kin's raids become more and more profitable, while Fugu is looking for his cousin whereas Michael and Sam are getting into the most abstruse situations...

Review: To write a plot summary for "Fantasia" surely is no easy task. That is because actually the movie is about nothing in particular. "Fantasia" is a movie of complete madness with a star-studded cast. Here, we get nonsense at its finest, which sometimes also crosses the boundary of what's comprehensible. Yet this movie is always entertaining. Nevertheless, you should be warned, either you can laugh about the foolishness portrayed here or you should avoid this movie like the plague. "Fantasia" isn't worthwhile for every viewer, that's for certain.

Wai Ka-Fai is not a no-name, of course, but after his "Too Many Ways To Be No.1", "Fantasia" is finally a movie he did without collaborating with his buddy Johnnie To. Being fast-paced and presented in garish colourful pictures he creates a comedy that takes us on a trip into the 70s and 80s of Hong Kong's pop- and movie culture. Accordantly it will be difficult for many viewers to get access to this movie. That is because if you aren't familiar with the works of that time you'll definitely miss several hints like the numerous ones to "The Private Eyes". For westerners it's therefore almost impossible to appreciate the film the way it might deserve. You have to be into Asian movies for quite some years in order to get the jokes and hints in this one. Thus, the film loses some of its viewers along the way, but even if you just understand half of the allusions you still will have something to laugh about. There is a lot of imitation of popular movie characters and even if you don't know the original characters that are being made fun of, it's still a fun ride. The actors apparently had fun doing this movie.

Lau Ching-Wan proves that he has what it takes to be a comedian, because he always manages to hit the right notes at the right time. Together with Francis Ng he outacts everyone and they both are responsible for the best laughs. To try to explain some of these moments is almost futile as you just have to see them to laugh about them. For example when Michael plays Mahjong while being under one of Harmy's spells so that he is incredibly lucky. In the end he has to hide his gaming pieces, because otherwise his opponent Kin would blow his head off if he would find out that he is "cheating".

Francis Ng is the movie's one-man main event. His portrayel of thug Kin is so amusing and his facial expressions and his vitality are so hysterically funny that you might laugh yourself to tears. Even the "Twins" provide us with some good laughs when they imitate Kin.
Almost not recognizable is Cecilia Cheung who hides herself behind good make-up which makes her look ridiculous and ugly. Her character Harmy Bobo, naturally, is just on big allusion to "Harry Potter", which is a theme of the movie the whole way through. Sadly, there is just little to do for Cecilia.
The rest of the cast is also quite convincing as far as this is possible in a film full of complete nonsense.

Apart from the already mentioned innuendos, which may elude most westerners and therefore will keep an additional level of this film closed for many viewers, there are also movies like "Jurassic Park", of which one whole film sequence has been shot almost true to the source, that are being made fun of.
Besides the "Harry Potter" stultification there are also some scenes that honour Bruce Lee in a way, and there are some really bad CGI-effects, which are merely stylish because they are so bad... This also involves the animation of a giant dinosaur cuddly toy that has to relieve itself whereever it can. So, in addition to slapstick, faecal humor has found a home in "Fantasia", too.

In a narrative sense the movie is a catastrophe, yet somehow in a positive way. Some jokes are laugh-out-loud style, others, however, are just so "odd" that you will scratch your head and wonder about them. Yet, most likely you won't have time for that, because we get bombarded with nonsense nonstop. If you are willing to fully enter the world of "Fantasia", in which gangsters prefer Afro-look, and in which you can shake the hand of the first Hong Kong citizen who lands on the moon, then you will definitely have a fun-ride with this meaningless, colouful and candy-like madness.

To get this straight: You really have to like this kind of humor, otherwise "Fantasia" won't be amusing for you at all. Thanks to its great actors, a keen eye for details and a nice comic-like look, this movie will also manage to entertain those who don't get most of the allusions.
Because lots of things will elude the average viewer there has to be some abstraction concerning the overall rating. Nonetheless, to a certain extent this one is a recommendable comedy, even if it's just because of its off-wall humor.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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