Leave Me Alone
Hong Kong 2004
Directed by Danny Pang.

Much maligned Ekin Cheng shows his stuff here is a slick, light hearted action movie about twin brothers Yiu (Ekin Cheng and Ekin Cheng), who switch identities and get mixed up in each other's troubles. Yiu Chun-Man is a gay fashion designer living in a posh home in Hong Kong. His brother Yiu Chun-Kit visits from Thailand, and promptly gets into a car accident while using Chun-Man's identity card, and lapses into a coma. When he discovers his incapacitated brother is needed back in Thailand by his girlfriend (Charlene Choi), Chun-Man borrows his brother's passport and heads over. But the gay and carefree Chun-Man finds more than he bargained for and soon has to face off against a series of ever more dangerous triad bosses, including a wildly over-the top loan shark (played with gusto by Dayo Wong). While wimpy gay Ekin is dealing with this, his tough Triad-fighting brother wakes up in Hong Kong and discovers he needs to spend some days in rehab before he will be able to walk again. And his brother's lover, a policeman (Jan Lam), takes to washing him and feeding him in the interim.

While artfully made and visually stylish, LEAVE ME ALONE ends up being a very slight film. The possibilities of such a plot premise are endless, the suspense/thriller aspect particularly ripe. But instead the filmmakers are content with only the most shallow of observations and very few surprises. Everyone in the film pretty much is who they say they are, and do what you might expect them to do. No one crosses, let alone double-crosses, anyone else. A lot of the action is played for laughs.

Once you get past the disappointment of the uninspired screenplay you are nevertheless left with a pretty enjoyable popcorn flick. Charlene Choi does not handle her role very well, perhaps it is just the case that she is overexposed in Hong Kong cinema of late and needs to have a radical departure from her normal roles. Here, well, I've seen this Charlene Choi performance before in other movies, and it is little improved.

But Ekin Cheng. The complaints about his talent, especially when he first broke out in the YOUNG AND DANGEROUS series, could fill a book. Part of the problem is that he was filling Chow Yun-Fat's shoes, and no one can do that. Lately he has been appearing in a series of comedies, some romantic, none very good. LEAVE ME ALONE is a good reminder, then, of the fact that Ekin can really act. His twin brothers of course look identical, but they also dress very nearly alike. Despite that he is able to convey which brother is which in a way that appears effortless. Once they are introduced, one never (or rarely) mixes up the two brothers again.

My expectations of a suspense thriller were way wide of the mark. LEAVE ME ALONE is really about walking in another man's shoes, and what you learn about yourself in the experience. In this case, the two brothers learn about each other, and come to a deeper understanding about themselves and their relationships. In telling this simple story, the movie is successful. In mining the wealth of possibilities inherent in the setup, the movie is a dismal failure.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on February 18, 2005.

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