Men On The Dragon 逆流大叔 (2018) Review

It’s not every day we get a Hong Kong sports movie that focuses on dragon boat racing. But Men On The Dragon <逆流大叔> is such a rarity and perhaps even the first Hong Kong movie to do so.

The movie revolves around four Pegasus Broadband employees — Lung (Francis Ng), Wong Suk-Yi (Poon Chan Leung), William (Tony Wu Tsz-Tung) and Tai (Kenny Wong) — who are part of the company’s team members for the dragon boat racing under the supervision of a strict coach Dorothy (Jennifer Yu).

Jennifer Yu in “Men On The Dragon” (2018).

Men On The Dragon <逆流大叔> marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Sunny Chan, whose previous credits including the Love Undercover <新紮師妹> trilogy, The Lion Roars <我家有一隻河東獅> and Sound Of Colors <地下鐵>.  He leaves no sports-movie clichés unturned, complete with the obligatory feel-good factor and song montage (!). Chan also depicts each of the principal characters’ personal dilemmas with familiar themes of mid-life crises and relationship problems. Not to mention a few topical subject matters such as layoff fears and even the difficulty of obtaining Andy Lau concert tickets are also added here.

And yet, the movie feels strangely incomplete. Chan, who also wrote the script, does manage to lay everything out in the open. But every issue that he tries to address here is either too banal or haphazardly executed.

(L-R) Poon Chan Leong, Tony Wu Tsz-Tung, Kenny Wong and Francis Ng in “Men On The Dragon” (2018).

The dragon boat racing subject itself is depicted more like an afterthought, even though Chan does include the usual training montage and few well-shot if visually repetitive rowing sequences.

The cast is a mixed bag. Both Francis Ng, Poon Chan Leung, Tony Wu Tsz-Tung and Kenny Wong deliver respectively decent performances. But TVB veteran Nancy Wu, who plays Lung’s next-door neighbour, is sadly underutilised. The only female cast that worth mentioning here is the up-and-coming Jennifer Yu, who made quite an impression playing a no-nonsense coach Dorothy.


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