Handsome Siblings (1992) / Action-Comedy
aka Jue dai shuang jiao
aka Proud of Twins
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for violence
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Andy Lau, Brigitte Lin, Cheung Man, Francis Ng, Ng Man Tat, Richard Ng, Wong Ching
Director: Eric Tsang
Review published February 7, 2002
One of the many reasons why I enjoy watching Hong Kong action films is due to the clever use of comic relief even amid the most direst of situations. When this is done well, the result is terrific entertainment, with laughs and thrills galore for the duration. However, if the comedy is too broad or too often relied on, serious unevenness may occur if the the action scenes seem too dark to be juxtaposed with such zany antics. This kind of forced marriage between silly slapstick and graphic decapitations is evidenced in the comic kung-fu flick, Handsome Siblings.
Siblings starts off with a powerful sorceress out to defeat the 10 Villains for stealing some money intended for her people. Her husband, tired of her constant fighting and killing, divorces her and fights her, ultimately losing and going into a coma. In the squabble, their young son is lost somewhere in the woods and raised by the treacherous Villains as one of their own, the process resulting in a master of thievery and crime trained for the sole purpose of revenge against the two Villains that brought this upon the other eight, as well as against his own mother. The mother, saddened by the loss of her son, adopts a young girl of the same age, training her in the ways of kung fu. Eighteen years later, the two siblings are on opposite sides of a battle which results in a tournament to the death to see who will be the next Supreme kung fu master of the land.
Handsome Siblings frustrates because most of the time it appears just on the verge of becoming good, only to have huge doses of lowbrow humor dolloped on the tone of the film. The wire-fu action is impressive, while the actors are appealing in their respective roles, with an especially touching portrayal by Brigitte Lin (Royal Tramp II, Swordsman II) as the young woman. There are a handful of moments which make Handsome Siblings worth putting up with the muck, the best of which is the setup to, and action within, the tournament itself near the end of the film. However, even the momentum of these scenes ends up short-lived by the inevitable dose of out-of-place humor that follows them. Recommended only for completist fans of the two leads and the most indiscriminate of wire-fu action aficionados.
©2002 Vince Leo