"For Bad Boys Only" is one crazy, fantastic, sprawling, unruly mess of a film. The lack of focus in the story, is only matched by the inventiveness on display, the film simply throws any and all gimmicks at us.
There's technical stuff like freeze frames, jump cuts, animated interludes and changing the speed or direction of a shot.
The characterisations are also all over the place. On one hand there's the tender gentle portrait of Jack, who longs for commitment from his girlfriend, without realising that he demands something from her, he's not able to give himself. On the other hand there's the bad guy, who's made up of every conceivable movie cliché you can come up with. He's Japanese, he's got that easily identifiable white hair that all bad guys had in the early 90's, he doesn't speak a word the first time we see him (for some reason that's highly unsettling), and finally he's got an evil diabolic plan involving world domination!
Some films which use this "let's throw everything at the screen and see what sticks"-approach end up with a big pile of nothing, but "For Bad Boys Only" is one of those rare cases, where the approach actually works.
The central plot revolves around Eleven and her "sisters". It's got something to do with cloning, obviously, but I won't go into details. Oddly enough, the film is in no rush to get on with this part of the story, making several more or less surreal detours along the way. It actually takes the film 70 minutes to get to the scene where the bad guy explains his plan to the audience! 70 minutes?! That's forever in a movie! I could boil 4400 eggs in that time... But what's even stranger, is that I didn't actually miss the plot. It was just so much fun spending time with these characters.
Among the subplots there's the one about King struggling with his love life. Another subplot is the fate of Tin Ai, who anxiously awaits The Bad Boys' findings, and the investigation into the past of Yung and Kwan Chin also take up some time.
The best subplot however is the one involving Jack and Queen. Jack can't get his girlfriend to commit, and when he pressures her, she breaks up with him. Only then does he realise that Queen has been waiting cautiously in the wing, for a chance to be with him, but he's still not quite sure how to handle that. It's a sweet story, and could easily have worked on its own.
All this goofing around means that there aren't actually as many action scenes as you'd expect. Ekin Cheng gets to demonstrate his fighting abilities a few times, and he also gets a great scene where he must hold on for dear life to a moving truck. Louis Ko is kept more in the background, though he gets into a great game of chicken with a henchman on a motorcycle.
As King, Eking Cheng gets to play up to all his strengths. He's like James Bond, only without the agent stuff. The way he runs around, with no shirt under his open jacket, and tries to nail anything with a heartbeat. He says things like: "Wooing women is like chewing gum. First it tastes good, but soon it loses its flavor and then you spit it out".
But when he meets Eleven, who knows nothing about love, but is eager to learn, he must come to terms with the fact that he doesn't really know what love is. After this he begins to question his womanising ways. It's a good transformation for the character, and Cheng does it quite well.
As for Shu Qi... oh my God, where to begin? She is the cutest in this one! Plus, she's like on the screen non-stop, because she plays so many characters. It's funny to see her switch between the different characters' behaviour, and it's impressive that she does it so effortlessly. She plays Eleven with a bubbly innocence, Kwan with a reserved dignity, while Shadow is emotionally damaged and cautious of the world. Shu Qi delivers a good solid performance in her various parts, but her turn as Eleven is the best, and also gets the most screentime. Eleven is like Rain Man, and her attempts to learn more about the nature of love are quite amusing. She watches romantic movies on TV, and tests the new knowledge on King when he comes home.
At one point she bluntly says to him "I want sexual relations!" His only response is "Good. Lie down." Well, you gotta hand in to Ekin Cheng. He sure as hell doesn't hesitate at the the moment of truth.
Except for their budding relationship, Louis Koo and Kristy Yeung don't have much to do. Jack's the serious one, and because of this he's pushed to the background whenever King's around. Kristy Yeung's problem is that she can't fight, so she sort of disappears whenever there's trouble. Still, she's charming as hell, and any scene with her is worth watching. In this film she also has a lollypop permanently lodged in her face, which is kinda sexy in its own way. Both Louis Koo and Kristy Yeung do what they can with what they got, and in this film, it's more than adequate.
With a core plot consisting of an evil Japanese genius creating clones, and a detective agency led by a playboy, who somehow has to save the world, suffice it to say "For Bad Boys Only" is not to be taken seriously. In keeping with this doctrine, the film keeps the mood light till the very end, and gives us a great send-off in the form of a clever little twist, and outtakes during the end credits.
Beneath all the craziness this is really a film about love - true love - and it's about meeting that one person who will complete your life. In that respect it's probably a little more mature than it cares to admit. But wait, forget I said that! "For Bad Boys Only" is fun, crazy, and out of control!
Now, let's get back to what this film is really about: Mass producing Shu Qi, so everyone can have a copy at home! Now there's an interesting, if morally challenged, idea. They say cloning is the way of the future, so who are we to stand in the way of progress? I say, stop wasting time cloning sheep. Let's get to the good stuff.