Help!!! (2000) / Comedy

MPAA Rated: Not rated
Running Time: 92 min.

Cast: Ekin Cheng, Gordon Chan, Cecilia Cheung, Raymond Wong
Director: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai
Screenplay: Wai Ka-Fai, Yau Nai-Hoi, Ben Wong

Review published September 26, 2001

HELP!!! is Hong Kong's answer to ER (in fact the intro spoofs the well-known TV show), only heavier on the comedy, specifically broad satirical humor regarding the way hospitals put financial considerations above the considerations of their patients' health.  HELP!!! is Johnny To and Ka-Fai Wai's second straight cooperative collaboration, directly following their hit NEEDING YOU, and the result is a much more ambitious yet seriously uneven film that is quite easy to hate if you just aren't with the mood swings of it's creators.  In fact, it took about an hour before I finally warmed up to it but I'm glad I did in the end.

The medical care system in one particular hospital is a bureaucratic mess, with doctors that don't care and an administration that takes shortcuts in order to maximize profit...all at the expense of the health of their patients.  Then a new female doctor, who sees the situation as the reverse of what it should be, decides to enlist the aid of the two doctors who wokred on her as a teen in order to make some changes in the hospital.  However, the fellow doctors and administrators enjoy the status quo so much they become an obstacle and vow to thwart these plans.

To say the humor is broad may be putting it mildly.  The styles of humor are so varied that until you get used to the fact that almost anything is possible it is a bit off-putting and some viewers may find in unwatchable as a result.  For those who are willing, the film eventually begins to pay dividends with the strongest of it's styles of humor, the satire on the state of current medical care in Hong Kong (although it is similar in many areas of the world as well).  HELP!!! sorts a likeable cast and a load of frenetic energy.  It also has a very memorable ending that made the film worthwhile viewing.  It is definitely not recommended for everyone but it may work for you as it did me.  Chalk up another winner for Johnny To.

Qwipster's rating:

2015 Vince Leo