The Beloved Son Of God (1988)
Directed by: Dick Tso
After 3 years in a mental asylum, the retarded Fat Cat (Kent Cheng) is let out into society again. With his mother and father gone, he becomes a case for social worker BiBi (Maggie Cheung) who takes on the responsibility for his rehabilitation. She is involved in a car accident however but Fat Cat not being able to acknowledge that, he takes the ferry to a nearby island hoping that BiBi is a passenger. Soon realizing he's abandoned, he drifts endlessly until a village doctor (Wu Ma) takes him reluctantly into his home...
The sequel to Why Me?, the award winning vehicle with Kent Cheng (who also directed) shifts a few events around in regards to the first film's ending to allow for a more smoother transition for a sequel. In fact, Cheng's Fat Cat character has also been the subject of a TV-series and again surfaced in the feature Happy Go Lucky that was shot in 2003 so it's definitely a character dear to him and the public. While Why Me? had its share of faults, it nonetheless got the core storytelling right but going into The Beloved Son Of God (aka Fat Cat), director Dick Tso isn't exactly faced with overcoming the very highest of standards.
After a quick recap that as far as I can see features slightly new footage with Shing Fui-On (reprising his role from the first film), Tso dives into the world of social workers with piles of cases waiting to be solved and acknowledged. One isn't enough to overcome an entire social problem but one on the other hand furthers the cause so we see Maggie's BiBi take on the case of Fat Cat. It's with some naive simplicity that BiBi character-wise gets a key into the narrative as she proclaims she's here to fight injustice but by the end, Tso and the writing tem at Impact Creative Group have managed to express something of substance about laws and strict bureaucratic systems. Who's to say you must keep a moral throughline to achieve the utmost help someone like Fat Cat needs? It speaks to something valid, including BiBi naivety but Tso also, like many filmmakers have before, shoots himself in the foot with an overly evil portrayal of the police (main one being played by subsequent Cat III stock villain William Ho). Missteps aside, Tso shows skill for simple, heartfelt drama when later concentrating on the relationship between Kent Cheng and Wu Ma's characters.
Fat Cat as a character is highly melodramatic and hysterical which definitely makes sense but it's comforting to know that Tso doesn't go overboard when placing that tear jerking drama in other character's hands. When initially meeting, Wu Ma's granduncle is a grumpy old man that learns to love and be positive through the presence of the good-hearted Fat Cat. Very politically correct and this is an area where similar movies have crumbled. Thanks to attention narrative and character, Tso makes little of it intrusive and proves adept at hitting his dramatic marks and delivering the human comedy.
While Maggie Cheung is somewhat relegated to a supporting role as it turns out, she shows a decent instinct for the role as BiBi, a character that clearly is out of her element when faced with the actual case at hand but also one that learns, the hard way, that social workers can't work strictly from set in stone laws. Wu Ma also adds the requisite fatherly warmth with absolute ease in a memorable performance. Kent Cheng's now established character obviously is a mimic of what we saw in Why Me? but nonetheless presents a sympathetic and warm aura. It's also edgy because of what we know from the first film as Fat Cat's violent tendencies are unwillingly always near the surface. It shows why Kent subsequently have effectively dabbled in villainous roles as well. Chiao Chiao also appear as a different role compared to the first film.
Dick Tso went on to helm lesser Category III efforts such as A Chinese Torture Chamber Story 2 and Chinese Erotic Ghost Story and one can't really tell if he would've developed into an outstanding director of drama after The Beloved Son Of God. His handling of the social commentary, drama and working with actors is very competent but there's a sense of abilities peeking either once and for all or only once here. It's still captured on film and those of you who took a liking to Kent Cheng's Fat Cat character in Why Me? are an obvious target for this worthy sequel.
Universe have sourced a very clean 1.73:1 framed print for The Beloved Son Of God. A few tints towards green and blue appears and the print overall is soft. It's what you expect from the era and from a budget title.
The English subtitles has some problems determining gender of various characters but overall presents a well-worded translation. Bahasa Malaysian, Traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese subtitles are also available.
Extras includes Star's Files for Kent Cheng and Maggie Cheung that are fairly informative for once. Trailers for The Beloved Son Of God, Papa Can You Hear Me Sing, The Lunatics and Alan & Eric Between Hello & Goodbye also appear.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson