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Original Title:
Bo bui gai wak

Hong Kong 2006

Action, Comedy

Benny Chan

Jackie Chan
Louis Koo
Michael Hui
Gao Yuanyuan
Yuen Biao
Charlene Choi
Teresa Carpio
Terence Yin
Conroy Chan
Andrew Lin
Ken Wong
Cherrie Ying
Ken Lo
Yu On-on

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Story: Thongs (Jackie Chan) and his friend Octopus (Louis Koo) empty the safes of rich businessman and several institutions. The money Thongs gets his hands on is soon gone because of his love for gambling, though. But not only he is constantly broke as Octopus also has his guilty pleasure. Even though he already has a girlfriend he meets with some rich women which cost him all of his money. When Landlord (Michael Hui), the man they get their jobs from and learned their profession, is robbed of all his savings the three sign up for a bigger coup than usual. This job involves a little baby (Matthew Medvedev) that is supposed to be kidnapped from his parental home by them and handed over to his grandfather. Despite initial moral doubts the three take on the job because of the enormous pay. However, something goes wrong and Landlord has to go into prison for a week because of breaking the speed limit so that their client can't be contacted for a while. Thongs and Octupus now see themselves confronted with the challange to take care of the little baby and that doesn't prove to be that easy, even the more as the two are also chased after by the shady men of the grandfather.

Review: It's kind of a cheap card to promote a movie with a little baby. But that's just what "Rob-B-Hood" does. Entertainment for the whole family imbued with a good portion of an "Oh, how cute!"-element. For that reason I wasn't really looking forward to watching this movie. However, all the typical slapstick aside "Rob-B-Hood" is actually an entertaining film which also doesn't lack a certain amount of action, even though you get a little less than from other Chan-movies. Director Benny Chan ("Invisible Target", "New Police Story") is famous for his popcorn entertainment and this time he delivers once again. You won't get disappointed if you know what to expect of his movies and what you shouldn't. Among latter are a well elaborated story and good character drawings. What Benny Chan succeeds in, though, is building up a nice pacing, selling some of the jokes quite well and making the viewer forget most of the flaws for some time.

Let's talk about the baby which apart from a small opening sequence doesn't take an important role in the movie until the 45 minutes mark. If you are afraid of cheesy moments like Chan and Koo singing a lullaby for the little baby in order to calm it down then you are rightly so. But at least these moments aren't as embarrassing as they could have been. Of course the film plays a lot with the cuteness factor of the little trouble maker and only few will be able to resist the charm of him. Accordingly the gags in the movie are rather on a toilet niveau including some full diapers thrown around for good measure. Thankfully, apart from this rather childish humor there are also some well done scenes, most of all the one in which all important parties are clashing at Chan's place, trying to kidnap the baby out of its cradle while Chan and his enemies try to put on a good face on the matter in front of a police officer who is also present.

Actionfans don't need to leave emptyhanded either, even though the action could have been scattered throughout the film in a more appropriate manner as there are in fact some lean periods. Most of the time this action consist of chasing scenes or breathtaking climbing sessions at buildings. Fights are really just a side note in this movie. Especially one scene in which Chan is jumping from one air conditioning device to another installed on the outside of a building is a lot of fun to watch. Sometimes you can see that Chan simply isn't that young anymore, that's most likely why some scenes of the few fight sequences are shot with double the speed, at other times, though, the director does a good job hiding that fact. The various climbing tours also feature Louis Koo and he really shows his physical fitness. A great part of the movie's tension is of course created by the baby being in everyone's focus. This also means that it is passed around in a rather rough fashion, meaning that it is thrown through the air, is part of some more or less breakneck-like stunts and that in some of the comedy insertions it somehow just ends up in the washing machine. The viewer doesn't need to have a guilty coscience because of that, though, because it's always apparent that the baby itself never really had to go through any of those physical exertions.

It's also noteworthy how many cameos we have in "Rob-B-Hood". Apart from Charlene Choi, as well as Daniel Wu and Nicholas Tse in a questionably funny appearance, there are also Hui Siu-Hung, Gordon Lam, Ken Lo etc. to be seen. The most important appearance is most likely that of Yuen Biao as a policeman who has already been on Thong's tail for a while. Unfortunately, the director gives away the chance to let the two martial arts experts Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao engage in a little combat. What a shame...
Jackie Chan doesn't play the good guy (for the first time?) as he is a burglar after all, but that he actually has a good heart is obvious right from the start, therefore a discussion about his acting achievements is needless as he just plays himself again. Louis Koo ("Election", "Throw Down") plays his part in a charming fashion and his overacting sometimes even fits well to his character this time. True star of the film is the little baby, of course, which is also why it is staring into the camera with its big eyes every now and then.

Sadly, "Rob-B-Hood" is full of flaws as already stated. There is the fact that it never really becomes clear why Thongs and Octopus can't continue the negotiation for Landlord in order to give the baby to their client instead of willingly letting themselves get chased after by their client's thugs. Moreover, the showdown is a little bit of an overkill. It almost might seem ridiculous, even the more as the short twist towards a gritty ending is never really credible as we know right from the beginning that this story asks for a happy end and will also get one. After all we are talking about a Jackie Chan movie - and there is also a baby in it! Furthermore, the film is a bit lengthy with its over two hours running time and the jokes could have been composed with a little bit more finesse. All in all "Rob-B-Hood" is simply nice entertainment that lacks some depth and because of the baby makes you feel like being tricked to like this movie in a bit too easy fashion.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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