Writer-director James Yuen, who’s made some of Hong Kong’s best relationship movies in recent years, comes up with his best blend of character and observation in some time with the light comedy “Crazy n’ the City.” Revolving around a streetwise cop and his younger femme partner, pic has an easy charm that slowly draws in the viewer. H.K. movie buffs will keep busy checking off the many cameos by well-known names. Asiaphile events should book this one pronto.
Pic starts with a jokey twist that pulls the rug from under the audience and establishes the film’s lateral take on the genre. “Think this is a cop movie?” asks the main character, Chris (Eason Chan), in voiceover.
Chris has been on the Wanchai beat for seven years and so far has seen zippo action. Assigned eager-beaver recruit Liu Tak-nam (Joey Yung), aka “Manly,” he dispenses professional wisdom as the pair rescues cats and directs tourists from mainland China. Manly, who’s from a village outside Hong Kong, is gently joshed by her cynical colleagues.
She becomes interested in the case of local eccentric Wong Chi-sing (Francis Ng), an architect who lives in a fantasy world after a nervous breakdown. While Manly gets a crush on a handsome motorcycle cop (Alex Fong, one of the many cameos), Chris finds himself unsettlingly idolized by two teenage school girls, Nicole (Ng Yan) and Diet (Chloe Chiu), whom he rescued from a flasher on a public bus.
Film’s light, jocular tone is finally jolted almost an hour in when a shoplifter (Lam Suet) jumps off a building and Manly half-blames Chris for not stopping him. A reel later, Diet is killed by a sex maniac and the whole of Wanchai goes on high alert, with Wong, who’s been developing a romantic attachment to a mainland hooker (Zhang Ming), looking like a prime suspect.
Chemistry between Chan, as the out-of-shape Chris, and Yung, as the fit, keen newbie, is especially good. Ng, whose filmography bulges with portrayals of wackos, reins in his perf here to leave the viewer undecided as to just how disturbed he really is. Script pulls together all the threads for a restrainedly romantic finish.
Tech package is consistently pro, with Wanchai district well evoked. Chinese title literally means “Crazy Chivalrous Partners.”