Men On The Dragon

逆流大叔 | 万水千山纵横
 •  , ,  •   • Dir.

Reviewed by   |  Apr 22, 2024

The apathetic employees of Pegasus Broadband are used to being ignored by the company’s management, but have always done just enough to avoid the annual cull. Three employees, Lung, Suk Yi and William know that this year they might be among those made redundant and, with this in mind, agree to join the company Dragon Boat team. While they do not initially take training seriously, something about the new purpose reinvigorates the trio and even helps them form a new relationship with their stoic manager, Tai, who has also been press-ganged into the team. Each of the newcomers discover that their day-to-day problems are easier to manage with the camaraderie that develops. Unfortunately, the management of Pegasus Broadband have a surprise in store for their employees.

The surprise local hit of 2018 was Sunny Chan’s zeroes-to-heroes comedy drama ‘Men on the Dragon’. It posted better-than-expected numbers at the box office, but really came alive months afterwards when the awards nominations started to be announced. Garnering eleven Hong Kong Film Award nominations, ‘Men on the Dragon’ didn’t quite sweep the board, yet proved to be a pleasant surprise.

‘Men on the Dragon’ takes a very familiar trope and transfers it to Hong Kong. The reliable ‘nobodies become somebodies’ is an easy thing to warm to; ‘Men on the Dragon’ recalls ‘The Full Monty’ and especially the Mathieu Amalric comedy ‘Sink or Swim’ which came out earlier that year. While it isn’t as good as the aforementioned, it has a local charm all of its own, utilising that very unique Hong Kong look that contrasts city skyscrapers with cramped, dead-end apartments. Each of the protagonists has their own trial to overcome, each has a solid character arc, and each contributes to the infectious enthusiasm created herein.

Where ‘Men on the Dragon’ does suffer is, depending on your point of view, the male or female characters. The former are all hen-pecked and belittled, so much so that it becomes frustrating, though others might reason that the female characters are unnecessarily shrewish. It means that the story lacks a bit of nuance and ultimately stops ‘Men on the Dragon’ having the right balance of humour and pathos to put it among the best of the genre. Nevertheless, an appealing cast (headed by Francis Ng who deserves better than the floppy perm he has to act from under!) and a bit of down-to-earth Hong Kong charm makes it a recommended watch.

Latest posts by Andrew Saroch (see all)