by Mei Ling Chen
When he is released from prison, Big F (Francis Ng) reunites with his old gang for one more job. The team of low-class thieves decide to turn a minibus into a police emergency vehicle lookalike, dress up like police officers and rob people.
In his directorial debut, screenwriter Lau Ho-Leung casts big name Hong Kong actors known for playing bad guys to complete the rest of the gang: Simon Yam as the criminal mastermind Crazy B; Patrick Tam as the vain Johnny T; and loyal and clumsy Mark Cheng as East L. Rounding out the cast is Leo Ku as Officer Tsui, the cop who is two steps behind them the entire movie.
The action in Two Thumbs Up zips between timelines and moving between scenes was a bit dizzying at first. But once the plan is in place and the gang is just hanging out with one another, the movie really starts. The caper is to rob a corpse-transporting vehicle known for smuggling money into Hong Kong by sewing them into the bodies. Things go awry when another team of ruthless criminals had the same idea. As the night devolves into a game of hide and seek between the two gangs, other complications arise. Johnny T is taken by the rival gang and Crazy B finds himself the caretaker of a little girl.
Two Thumbs Up is the classic tale of robbers with hearts of a gold. Big F and his buddies may break the law for financial gain but unlike the other gang, they still care about human life. The guys must work together to get their friend back and prevent the body count from going any higher. And the more time they spend away from each other, the more they realize that their friends are worth more than money.
As Big F and his friends try to stay alive and do what they think is the right thing, Officer Tsui and his Holmes-like deduction abilities is on their tail in his attempts to bring them to justice. He goes on his own side adventure with an old lady (Susan Shaw) and learns something about being a hero. The film could have done without this subplot and the lesson is a bit tacked on. Lau tries to find a message in each of his storylines, but the film is much better when there is no meaning behind the actions and things are allowed to unfold on their own.
Part buddy comedy and part heist movie, Two Thumbs Up brings to mind the Hong Kong movies of the early 90s. Using silly humour and the chemistry between cast, Lau is able to create a fun, albeit shallow movie.