Clifton Ko is capable of delivering a decent comedy once in a while, but drama has never been his strong point. It's not really a big surprise then that The Mad Phoenix, a lengthy biography about a talented but deviant Chinese opera writer, doesn't come across as a very capable film.
Kiang Yu-Kou's intellect is apparent even at a very young age, but his arrogance doesn't make him very popular. He spends his time watching Chinese opera and even tries his hand at writing one himself, but his blossoming career is cut short when the Japanese invade Shanghai and the war starts.
The film's a bit oldskool for a '97 Hong Kong project but fails to revive its glory of just half a decade ago. Performances are weak, the cinematography is a little disappointing and overall the project feels rather cheap. Might be better for people who are more acquainted with the subject, though they might be bothered by Ko's inability to fully suppress his comedy background. Not great.