ContactSales: Pegasus Motion Pictures (email@example.com)
Theatrical release: Hong Kong/China, 1 Dec 2011.
Presented by Pegasus Motion Pictures (HK), Shanghai Ex-Media (CN), Huayi Brothers Media (CN), in association with Beijing Meidu Boya Culture Media, Hunan Tianyu Film & TV Production. Produced by Pegasus Motion Pictures (HK), Tin Tin Film Production (HK). Executive producers: Zhang Yong, James Wang Zhonglei, Edmond Wong. Producer: Raymond Wong.
Script: Edmond Wong, Chan Tai-lee. Photography: Cheung Man-po. Editing: Cheung Ka-fai. Music: Chiu Tsang-hei, Andy Cheung. Art direction: Renee Wong. Costumes: Stephanie Wong. Stylist: Bruce Yu. Sound: George Lee, Kinson Tsang. Action: Jack Wong. Visual effects: Digital Studio 2L. Animation: Henri Wong.
Cast: Raymond Wong (Professor Hong Sam-kwai, the Water Magician), Wu Chun (Ling Fung, the Earth Magician), Wu Jing (Bi Yewu, the Fire Magician), Yan Ni (Lau Wah-li, the volleyball trainer), Karena Ng (Ching Mei-si/Macy Cheng), Louis Koo (Ku San-yut, the Wood Magician), Tonny Jan (Charlie, the Metal Magician), i Me (Dong Shan volleyball team), Vincent Kok (Dong Shan trainer), Paw Hee-ching (cleaner), Renata Tan, Anjaylia Chan, Kelena Poon, Leanne Ho (Mei-si's teammates).
Magic to Win 開心魔法
2011, colour, 2.35:1, 100 mins
Directed by Wilson Yip (葉偉信)
By Derek Elley
Mon, 26 December 2011, 20:00 PM (HKT)
Lame college fantasy involving a girls' volleyball team and battling "magicians". Asian events.
Hong Kong, the present day. At Pegasus University, Ching Mei-si (Karena Ng) is the leader of the hopeless girls' volleyball team. After being trounced in a match against Dong Shan University, college head Ko warns trainer Lau (Yan Ni), who is up for the job of deputy head, that the girls must not lose again. Meanwhile, a Fire Magician called Bi Yewu (Wu Jing) is attempting to harness the powers of the four other elements for his own purposes, and first celestially imprisons Wood Magician Ku San-yut (Louis Koo), an alcoholic novelist, followed by Ling Fung (Wu Chun), a young Earth Magician. When Macy accidentally bumps into college professor Hong (Raymond Wong), who is also a Water Magician, she inherits his magical powers and leads her team to victory in a subsequent match against Dong Shan. She is also the only one who can still see Ling Fung, who's been rendered invisible. Meanwhile, Bi Yewu continues his quest for the power of the other two elements, water and metal.
Trailed as a re-tread of the Happy Ghost 開心鬼 (1984) series that Hong Kong comedian Raymond WONG 黃百鳴 produced and starred in during 1984-91, Magic to Win 開心魔法 (2011) actually has little in common with them, apart from its school setting, the mixture of the everyday and supernatural (but here magician-sorcerors, not ghosts) and one sequence in which an invisible magician keeps sabotaging a fat athlete's attempts to win. Lazily directed by Wilson YIP 葉偉信 (Ip Man 葉問 (2008), A Chinese Ghost Story 倩女幽魂 (2011)) as if he was chained to the camera and had better things to do with his weekend, it's a lame shot at a youth comedy attempting to appeal to both the China and Hong Kong markets with its mixed cast, and seems a strangely local title for China Lion Film Distribution Inc to push into international distribution.
The five Happy Ghost films, very much of their time and very Hong Kong in their humour, were mostly notable for launching Clifton KO 高志森's career as a hit comedy director — with him directing three and Johnnie TO 杜琪峰 one of the remainder — as well as introducing a series of scantily clad cuties (like Loletta LEE 李麗珍 and Fennie YUEN 袁潔瑩) in each movie. On the cutie side, Magic to Win has a bevy of young models/starlets in supporting roles, girl group i Me as their foxier sports opponents, and 17-year-old newcomer Karena NG 吳千語 as the female lead who gets caught up in a battle between magicians representing the Five Elements.
Anchoring the movie between the girls' teasy volleyball matches, there's Louis KOO 古天樂 coasting in a guest role as an alcoholic magician-cum-novelist, Mainland martial artist WU Jing 吳京 okay as a low-key villain, his compatriot YAN Ni 閆妮 clocking in as the girls' trainer, Brunei-born Taiwanese boybander WU Chun 吳尊 looking lost as the putative romantic lead, and Wong himself in a weird wig and glasses as a professor-cum-magician. With no comic rhythm to the direction, Magic strolls episodically along, with one after another sequence of power-palming and a so-what final plot revelation. Ng shows some signs of a distinctive personality that could lead to a career. For the rest, it's a wonder anyone thought the film was worth making.