Wednesday February 6, 2013
Chapman To is funnier than ever in his latest comedy Hotel Deluxe
By SETO KIT YAN
Hotel Deluxe gets its five-star rating from its funny employees.
HONG Kong funnyman Chapman To seems to be in every rib-tickling Cantonese movie we see from Hong Kong these days. Why, he’s even pulling in the laughs from another funny Malaysian movie, The Wedding Diary 2, which also opens on Feb 7.
Currently one of the most sought-after comedians in Hong Kong, To was featured in 10 movies in 2011 and seven last year, slowing down for a bit to recover from Miller Fisher Syndrome – a rare nerve disease that can lead to paralysis and death. But, it appears he has bounced back funnier than ever in his latest role as a hotel employee in lunar new year comedy Hotel Deluxe.
“I play a bartender in the movie. In order to transform the Hundred Star Hotel into a five-star hotel, I have collaborated with the devil boss (played by Teresa Mo), the head of housekeeping (Sandra Ng) and the lobby’s assistant manager (Ronald Cheng), to organise a grand wedding dinner for one of the hotel’s most loyal customers (played by Fiona Sit),” said To in an e-mail interview from Hong Kong.
Directed by Vincent Kok and produced by Raymond Wong, the rip-roaring Hotel Deluxe also co-stars Lynn Hung and Karena Ng as rival superstars who check into the Hundred Star Hotel with their respective entourages and give the hotel employees a headache with their rivalry.
Coincidentally, To used to work in the hotel industry, thus, he felt that he could identify with his character in the movie. “Well, the biggest challenge would be having to pick up some bartending skills. Being a bartender meant I would be required to mix cocktails and also perform unique tricks while tending to the bar. During the shoot, I would sometimes miss catching the props while attempting the tricks. Hence, a lot of props were broken,” said the stocky comedian, who pointed out that the biggest difference in this movie was that he did not have to do any cross-dressing, like he did in All’s Well Ends Well.
Playing ambassador to the amusing, yet, heart-warming Hotel Deluxe, To expressed: “The setting of this movie is a hotel. And since every one of us has stayed in a hotel before, we all know that there are many different and interesting, or creepy and unimaginable things that seem out of this world, which happen in hotels all the time. And, all these may well be happening at a hotel where you are staying; it’s just that you may not know about it then. Furthermore, this movie has a collection of the best comedians, including Ronald Cheng, Teresa Mo, Sandra Ng, Fiona Sit, Jim Chim, Eric Kot, etc, and me, Chapman To! Isn’t the selling point obvious?”
The rollicking movie was shot in Hangzhou, China, and the 40-year-old actor mused that the filming process went smoothly with few hiccups. “The five-star Qian Dao Hotel has a tranquil environment and the facilities there are quite comprehensive. The most difficult part was acting with Fiona Sit. That is because she cannot stand the jokes that I make. She laughs too easily when I try to be funny, disrupting the filming process,” To mocked his pretty co-star with whom he also collaborated in Mr And Mrs Gambler (2012).
To also described an amusing scene which marked his first collaboration with the dashing mainland China actor, Yu Bo. “There was a scene where he had to meet with his parents, and I was the one who acted as his father. So, I was required to dress up as an old man. After I was done with the makeup, all the staff on the set agreed that I looked just like a movie star from the 1990s. And, if you want to know who the movie star is, you will have to go to the cinema to find out!”
As a parting message to fans of Chinese cinema, To has this to say: “I think the movie hopes to bring happiness to audiences and I, too, hope that audiences can have a happy new year filled with loads of laughter, especially since everyone was traumatised by rumours of the end of the world last year. Hopefully, this movie will bring positive energy and fun to all.”
> Hotel Deluxe opens its doors at local cinemas nationwide on Feb 7.