Leave Me Alone (2004)
Directed by: Danny Pang
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While visiting his gay twin brother Yiu Chun-Man (Ekin Cheng) in Hong Kong, Yiu Chun-Kit (Ekin Cheng) switches identities temporarily as he borrows Man's driving license but of course gets into car crash that leaves one woman dead and himself in a coma. Looked up by Kit's girlfriend Jane (Charlene Choi), Man posing as Kit gets into a whole host of trouble with gangsters (mainly Dayo Wong's loan shark character) while Kit wakes up after a week only to realize he has to step into the shoes of his homosexual brother..
Although brothers Danny and Oxide Pang have slipped into tedium and the expected ever since the (rightfully) successful horror venture in the form of The Eye, the sequel released in 2004 was as technically polished as you would think but lacked much else. Squeezing in something seemingly unrelated the same year, with ads promising TWO Ekin Cheng's, was Leave Me Alone something totally lazy or something oddly creative amongst the otherwise expected, familiar output? Danny Pang doesn't have an answer but an intent. We however have a to the point answer: Intent failed!
Not that it automatically should've as Leave Me Alone isn't your shot in a week-cheapie but Pang does keep visuals rather subdued after a stylish opening. Favoured otherwise is a whole host of moods in stark contrast to each other and boy it would've been fun if it all sat well. Almost on the verge of being homophobic yet not, central ideas of the script Danny Pang co-penned with Sam Lung and Curran Pang has the "I learned something today..." aura wrapped all round it, mostly having to do with the brother's bettering themselves and getting a feel for each other's respective situation. Man is the gay fashion designer who has tried to shrug off a caring, very insistent gay police officer played by Jan Lam and it's brother Kit who has to be on the receiving end of this care for now. Not a bad thing as it turns out and actor Lam balances well in his act here. Thrown into situations verging on gunplay and gangster genre-satire, yet not, the actual Man has to deal with an annoying fiancee who's clearly been overlooked but that doesn't excuse the sheer annoyance of the writing of Charlene Choi's character. Incredibly dumb, ignorant and with Choi not fitting the bill of a tough heroine, it isn't in tune with the unhappiness at the core of the character as the movie enjoys more touching upon a wildness it's not ready for.
Yes, enter jokes about Man needing to ACT more like a Man, including being an action hero that in the end fails because he doesn't fancy himself being in an action movie. No, he likes handing out hair- and fashion tips to Jane's dad (Kenny Bee in a fun supporting performance) and acting just the opposite of the harsh brother. Not a bad thing as it turns out. Dips into gangster violence, black comedy and quirks really does reveal Danny Pang's greatest intention with Leave Me Alone and that is to be a master of blending these inappropriate moods into mostly entertaining but also affecting celluloid. Not knowing if Danny is genuinely this guy in real life, he features a whole lot that never corresponds to anything but reactions such as "we're waiting, please ignite already!". We need speed, we need dark humour. We get all of that in sequences showing finger cutting where about 45 fingers are involved, over the top gunplay and car chases.
Executed wildly then but still registering very little, it's very easy to feel Leave Me Alone fails but nonetheless it's a polished production where the double impact of Ekin Cheng is executed dependently. With minor tweaks in hair, Cheng carries out the illusion (that relies little on effects work) well enough and elicits a laugh or two in both character-shells as they try and deal with their situations. But polished and having an intent doesn't get you an admission to stand beside busy Hong Kong cinema as proudly. It's very welcome to see Danny Pang try and associate him along with his brother with something different so by all means, you have more tries to get noticed using these quirky ways. Don't get that discouraged because there's no encouragement to hand out.
Universe presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with anamorphic enhancement. Print is clean and sharpness, detail and colour doesn't provide a letdown.
Audio options are Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 but as I'm not equipped with such a system, my assessment of this disc aspect will be left off this review. The sections in Thai are intact on the Mandarin track.
The English subtitles falter very little when it comes to grammar, spelling and remains comprehensible throughout. Traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles are also included. Extras are sparse, with only Star's Files for Danny Pang, Ekin Cheng, Charlene Choi and Dayo Wong plus a Photo Gallery (20 images) being offered up. The files are filmographies only except Pang's that is accompanied by a Chinese language bio as well.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson