It seems Ricky Lau is back. Rather than copy other Hong Kong directors and go for the big bucks, he stayed true to his old self and has found a new home in China's explosive genre cinema niche. It's a perfect fit for him, and they can use a seasoned director like Lau to give them some pointers.
Lau on the other hand is allowed to do what he's good at. Taoist Priest brings his typical mix of Jiang Shi (the Chinese hopping vampires), comedy, fantasy and martial arts. It's a pleasant genre mix that goes for full-on entertainment. The plot is very basic, instead time and money was invested in making this film as fun as possible.
Props for Lau to not fall into the trap of easy CG. Most of the action appears to be oldskool, which is a big plus. The sets and styling are extremely lush, the action is great and the characters are a cool bunch (the bad guys in particular stand out). It's a simple genre film, but executed with a lot of flair and gusto. I'm ready for more.
Worthy but flawed
Silly but fast-paced and amusing Hong Kong comedy. No vampires this time for Ricky Lau, just some daft gags and wild overacting, but the result is pretty decent. Some affinity with 80s HK comedies is probably needed to get any enjoyment out of this film and high art this is not, but if you're looking for comedy filler that are worse options out there.
Mediocre Hong Kong genre bender. Ricky Lau and Philip Chan directed this Sammo Hung vehicle that combines comedy, action, fantasy and horror and tries to fit everything into a typical cop buddy format. I'd by lying if I said the film was boring, but the quality is limited and none of the genres stands out.
Tuba's partner Chow is gunned down when the both of them are trying to apprehend a gang of criminal. Right before he dies Tuba promises Chow to avenge his death. Tuba is assigned a new partner and get romantically entangled, prompting him to forget his promise. Chow then returns from the dead to remind Tuba of the promise he made.
The horror elements are cheap, the acting is pretty hysterical and the comedy is very limited. With a star-studded cast and a seasoned director at the helm, expectations were a lot higher. At least the action scenes are pretty decent, but they're few and far between. This should've been a lot better.
A pretty awkward genre blender. Ricky Lau is famed for his vampire-themed martial arts comedies, so when he tried his hand at romance with some drama and thriller elements it was a bit of a gamble. Too much of a gamble I guess, as the result is a muddled mess that comes off rather tone-deaf.
Three 20-something women are sharing a flat, looking to get their lives on the rails. That translates to finding a good job and a (wealthy) husband. Easier said than done though, as the men they date invariably turn out to be lechers. Throw in some random drama (a child dies) and a surprisingly jolly rape scene and you'll begin to understand what we're dealing with here.
Lau seems to have no control whatsoever. The film is quite light, the first part is a basic romantic comedy even, but then he throws in some pretty heavy drama without even trying to change the tone. The drama has no impact, performances are mediocre and the atmosphere is terribly inconsistent. Not exactly Lau's best work.
Ricky Lau likes to stick with his vampire theme, but when drops the martial arts and comedy elements and substitutes them with some sleazy romance it only highlights his limitations as a director. The perks of genre cinema keep it from becoming a total disaster, but unless you're a tremendous Lau film there's not much here.