The alternate title for this 1963 film is Fun in the Factory, and it appropriately describes the first half of the movie, which plays out like a workplace romp. Wong Bun Kap (Cheung Ying-Choi) has just returned from studying abroad and is ready to take his place in the workforce. Since his dad (Lee Pang-Fei) is also the chairman of a company, however, his plans, at least for now, look a lot like whatever Dad has in mind, and Dad wants him to gain some experience on the factory floor before he can move up in the company. If only Hong Kong tycoons could have some of whatever Papa Wong’s having. Dad explicitly says that Ah Kap has had it too easy his whole life and that the boy needs to understand the value of hard work, to which I say, amen.
Not only does Ah Kap totally agree that he’s a coddled rich kid, but he goes all in when his dad suggests that he join the company as a regular factory hand. He’ll live with one of the maids, posing as her nephew, and take on a new name, Chin Tung-Yuen. Since no one has seen Ah Kap since he was a kid, he won’t have a problem when mingling with the hoi polloi.
The plan sounds sensible enough, and it is for a good while. Word leaks out that the boss’s son is among the newest batch of employees, and suddenly everyone’s hot on the game. The ladies saddle up with the fellas and try to figure out if their beau is filthy rich, while the men eye each other suspiciously, unsure if the guy buying drinks can afford a few more rounds. Ah Kap almost gets outed when he doesn’t know what butter toast is, but his female colleague, Tsui Wan (Lam Fung), is confident he is not the favored son when she visits his humble home.
There isn’t much to the story besides this guessing game, and once the novelty wears down, so does the energy. There are a few subplots that get more mileage than they probably should. Wong’s subordinate (Cheung Kwun Min) goes the distance to try to out Ah Kap, going so far as to enlist his goddaughter’s help. One of the factory hands, Yee Keung (Cheung Ching), gets mistaken for the boss’s son and exhausts himself trying to prove otherwise. Cheung has a charismatic presence, and it wouldn’t have hurt to see him in an expanded role.
There’s a lot of potential for physical comedy and wit that’s wasted, and what might be a fun, buzzy film fizzles. The cast can only do so much to keep lighting fires, though Lam Fung does a damn good job with her eyes alone. Cheung Ying Choi is an affable presence, but he fades along with the script. The film gives its audience a little to chew on as a study in character and identity. Anyone who’s had a job will recognize the way colleagues try to try to size one another up based on a person’s proximity to the boss. Too bad this adventure couldn’t be more exciting than real life.
Alt Title: Fun in the Factory
Prod: Sit Siu-Cheong 薛兆璋
Dir: Lo Yu-Kei 盧雨岐
Writer: Lo Yu-Kei 盧雨岐
Cast: Cheung Ying-Choi 張英才, Lam Fung 林鳳, Cheung Ching 張清, Lee Pang-Fei 李鵬飛, Kwan Hoi-San 關海山, Tam Sin-Hung 譚倩紅, Cheng Kwun-Min 鄭君綿, Sai Gwa-Pau 西瓜刨, Lee Heung-Kam 李香琴
Time: 108 min
Country: Hong Kong