Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Like many other Hong Kong movies that claim to present an inside scoop into the entertainment industry, ‘The Midas Touch’ is reportedly a mix of supposed true stories and urban legends.
The entire story is recounted in a flashback by Chiu (Chapman To of ‘Vulgaria’ fame), a successful debt collector who takes over the running of a talent agency, on the pretext of wanting to help seven young and nubile women fulfil their dreams of becoming celebrities.
Chiu got more than what he bargains for when he realises that the entertainment business is not as straightforward as debt-collecting, so he enlists the help of veteran talent manager Suen (played like a pro by Charlene Choi) to deliver the promise of making over the girls into the next K-pop sensation.
Helmed by Fung Chih Keung, who helped Stephen Chow script ‘Shaolin Soccer’, ‘CJ7’ and the recent ‘Journey to the West’ movies, ‘The Midas Touch’ has gags aplenty, hardcore mou lei tou style. Mou lei tou is the Cantonese slang for nonsensical humour popularised by Stephen Chow movies in the 1990s.
Of note is an extended pool scene which features male models led by TVB resident funnyman Wong Cho Lam attempting a “naked” charity photoshoot as the guys cavort with the girls clad in obligatory bikini swimwear. Unbelievable as it sounds, you have to be a fan of mou lei tou or Wong Cho Lam to begin with, or simply toss your brain aside, in order to appreciate the humor and have a good laugh.
WEAK GAGS, DULL SCRIPT
While some of the standalone gags do tickle your funny bone, most of them fall flat.
Instead of supporting the main plot and being a spot-on satire on the entertainment scene, the movie feels more like a weak parody.
The indecisive writing keeps shifting the focus between the talent managers of Chiu and Suen to the seven starlets. As if sensing its lack of direction, more silly gags are being scripted in to take up even more screen time.
Due to the limited screen time given to the seven starlets, collectively known in the movie as OMG (Oh My Girls), hardly any of the seven girls managed to leave much of an impression except for two.
But these two are left out when the rest of the girls are picked up by a talent agency to be groomed into a spinoff K-pop group – Give Me 5, thus conveniently saving screen time to flesh out the stories and characters of the remaining five girls.
Chapman To as the leading man with the Midas Touch, is basically playing an on-screen persona of himself, unabashedly offering no surprises.
ACTING CHOPS FROM CHOI
It is Charlene Choi who delivers in spades, literally morphing into her character of a tough negotiator and no-nonsense talent agent, said to be modelled after real-life talent manager Mani Fok, who gracefully appeared as herself in a brief cameo.
The back-story of Suen is especially poignant as someone who is obsessively infatuated with and stands by her male star talent through thick and thin. But this arc peters off with not much development in the later half of the movie.
There is even a half-hearted attempt to suggest a romantic development between Chiu and Suen, which ultimately receives no payoff.
The movie feels like one big, long tease, and it tries too hard to be funny.
Stay for the end credits though, which show some real footage of the initial audition of the girls, and they reveal more about the entertainment industry than most of the entire movie.
A film buff, David Lee lives and breathes cinema. The former TV producer and writer is the vice-chairman of the Singapore Film Society.