Petaling Street Warriors is a period kungfu comedy which does not exactly generate side-splitting laughs but still is good enough for a guffaw or two. Another local production, it comes in the wake of box-office hit Nasi Lemak 2.0.
But time will tell whether it can match the latter’s RM8 million receipts.
Historical incidents and figures are interweaved into the plot, which is set in the (presumably) turn-of-the-20th century Kuala Lumpur. Scriptwriter Lim Boon Siang even poked fun at modern-day events and personalities.
Mark Lee plays Hokkien mee hawker Du Yao peddling his trade in Petaling Street while his wife from an arranged marriage, Li Chun (Yeo Yann Yann), is also his secret bodyguard.
For one reason or another, Du Yao has not consummated his marriage with Li Chun and he is forced to wear the male version of a chastity belt, which naturally precipitates a series of jokes which work at times.
Unbeknown to Du Yao, he is descended from a Ming Dynasty emperor, who has supposedly hidden a treasure map.
Trying to lay claim to the map are a Ninja assassin (Chris Tong) and a head eunuch (Frederick Lee), who do battle with Li Chun and her fellow bodyguards, Liu Kun (Namewee) and Weisheng (Sunny Pang).
The fighting scenes are quite impressive and are on par with their overseas counterparts.
This is not surprising as the scenes are choreographed by Hong Kong action director Ma Yuk-Sing (The Storm Warriors, The Warlords, An Empress And The Warriors).
However, the main cast, except for Pang, do not have any martial arts background.
Co-directors Yuen and James have managed to capture the look and feel of 1900s Petaling Street in the movie, which was shot on location in Siputeh, Ipoh, in April and May this year.
However, one cannot help but notice that Petaling Street Warriors gets its laughs from rather contrived, derivative and unoriginal, if not copycat, scenes (though there are a few gems).
Yeo gives a standout performance as the “extra-endowed” Li Chun, excelling in both the acting and fighting departments with her “assets” strictly played for laughs.
Like most of his other onscreen characters, Mark dishes out another atypical performance, akin to spouting his lines like a stand-up comedian.
Frederick is impressive as the head eunuch whose effeminate voice belies his deadly kung fu skills while Namewee looks endearingly gruff while speaking in a rather amusing manner where he does not mince his words.
Bear in mind that while the dialogue is mainly in Mandarin with smatterings of Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew and English, not a single word of Bahasa Malaysia is spoken. It’s ironical, considering the setting of the movie.
Despite its rehashed storyline, Petaling Street Warriors is still a laudable RM3 million effort combining talent from Malaysia (Yeo and Frederick), Singapore (Mark, Pang and Tong) and Hong Kong (Yuen and Ma).
PETALING STREET WARRIORS
Directed by Sampson Yuen, James Lee
Starring Mark Lee, Yeo Yann Yann, Namewee, Sunny Pang, Chris Tong, Frederick Lee (with special appearances by Jack Neo, Henry Thia and Ho Yuhang)