GOLDBUSTER (2017) review


Produced by Peter Chan, Sandra Ng’s directing debut GOLDBUSTER follows the seven tenants of a derelict building: a widower doctor (Zhang Yi) and his son (Li Yihang), a webcam girl (Papi), two over-the-hill Hong Kong gangsters (Francis Ng and Alex Fong) and a couple of inventors (Jiao Junyan and Pan Binlong). They believe their building is haunted by a tall, red ghost, but actually this is just a ploy used by a wealthy businessman (Shen Teng) and his son (Yue Yunpeng) to push them to move out, so that they can build a new modern residence. The frightened tenants call upon the services of ghost hunter Ling (Sandra Ng) to exorcize the building and, having realized the deception, to beat the expropriators at their own game.

After Soul Mate and This is not what I expected, it seems a directing debut guided by Peter Chan can only end up assured and successful. Witnessing the tenants and the expropriators escalate in their battle of fright proves to be very entertaining, with the madcap humour entirely palatable thanks to a short running time (a perfectly judged 82 minutes), consistently inventive visuals (the many ‘frightening set-ups’ are a joy to behold), a few on-the-nose but amusing references (Jordan Chan’s Young and Dangerous song for example), welcome and unforced moments of heartfelt emotion (Li Yihang proves to be an outstanding child actor), and most of all a terrific ensemble cast. Sandra Ng not only still looks about 35, she has also retained – at 52! – the youthful, devil-may-care energy of a bouncy teenager ; and she’s well surrounded by a hilariously whiny Zhang Yi, old dogs Francis Ng and Alex Fong having a ball mugging like it’s still 1988, and Shen Teng wielding menacing smarm and arrogance like Bruce Lee wielded nunchaku. And stay through the end credits for a gratuitous but amusing cameo by soul mates Zhou Dongyu and Ma Sichun.

Long Story Short: Madcap but concise, broad but inventive, zany but heartfelt, carried by a terrific ensemble cast, Goldbuster is a fine directing debut from Sandra Ng. ***1/2


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