Fri, Nov 19, 2004 - Page 17 News List

The picturesque life of McDull continued

Two Chinese-language films of note this week are `McDull, Prince de la Bun' and Alice Wang's `Free as Love'

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Alice Wang (left) engages in an ambiguous kind of love with Xiao-xien, in Free as Love.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PANDASIA FILMS

There are two choices of Chinese-language films this week: An animated film from Hong Kong about a piglet's life that mocks elitism and new policies in Hong Kong; and a Taiwanese modern drama replaying the classic theme ofButterfly Lovers.

After world-wide accolades last year -- including the Best Animated Picture title at the Golden Horse Awards -- the crew of My Life as McDull (麥兜故事) this year presents its sequel McDull, Prince de la Bun (麥兜菠羅油王子). This time around, the film recruits more celebrities, such as Andy Lau (劉德華), Sandra Ng (吳君如) and Anthony Wong (黃秋生), who do the voices for the film.

For those unfamiliar with McDull, he is a piglet studying in the Spring Field Flower Flower kindergarten (春田花花幼稚園) with classmates that include ducks and turtles. McDull's single mom, Ms. McDull is a hard-working woman who can barely keep her head above water in upwardly mobile Hong Kong.

She tries her best to give her son a happy childhood and expects a lot in return, in terms of his future success. McDull, however, is a carefree child without much ambition. He hopes to fulfill his mom's wishes, but usually fails.

In this sequel, the pictures are still water-color based, with realistic drawings of Hong Kong's streets, characterized by signboards for hemorrhoid clinics and traditional drug stores.

Times are still hard for the McDull family. Their neighborhood houses are being torn down by the Urban Renewal robot. Ms. McDull, voiced by comedienne Sandra Ng, is anxious about the future and she buys insurance, US dollars and lots of toilet paper. She also purchases a plot for a grave in the mountains that has good feng-shui.

As in the original film, McDull and his classmates are obsessed with becoming Hong Kong's national sports icons and going to the Olympics. In addition, they are required to learn Mandarin in order to integrate more with China. They are encouraged to practice "fake-death" skills, creative urinating and fishing for squid in the mud. The principal of the school believes these are essential skills to survive in a changing Hong Kong.

McDull, who is proud of his cross-legged leg-shaking, also gets to perform in public with Jo Jo Ma (a pastiche of Yo Yo Ma, presumably), to the accompaniment of Bach's cello suite, his crossed legs beating a rhythm to the music.

The film also discloses the story of McDull's absent dad, who is actually Prince de la Bun, the Pineapple Bun Prince and owner of a popular tea restaurant.

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