Two Thumbs Up is a comedic caper movie from director Ho Leung Lau. The story focuses on Big F (Francis Ng), a convict fresh out of prison and looking to pull off one more heist with his former crew.
Just released from a 16-year stint in a Malaysian prison, Big F’s emotional development appears to have stunted at the same time as his sense of style — he sports an Achy Breaky-era Billy Ray Cyrus-style mullet. Big F’s criminal sensibilities are also as firmly entrenched in his personality as his late 90’s fashion sense: on the night of his release he rounds up his former cronies and proclaims the mantra, “we’re robbers; we have to rob.”
While locked away in the slammer, Big F formulates a master plan: his crew would pull off a robbery while disguised as cops driving a police van. Unfortunately for Big F, fate conspires against his plans going off without a hitch. Big F’s crew of rusty criminals must face a rival gang trying to pull off the same crime on the same night.
Two Thumbs Up is at its best during the first act, when the film comes flying out of the gate like a firecracker. The parts of the story where Big F’s woeful crew gear up to pull off their heist are the most entertaining scenes in the film, packed with jokes and allowing the audience to warm up to the film’s affable band of degenerates.
If a cockroach flaps its wings in Hong Kong, can a disreputable gangster redeem his tarnished character? That’s the heady philosophical question Two Thumbs Up poses to its audience before literally bombarding them with the answer in the final act. Once the criminal’s plans are set into motion, the jokes become few and far between, and the movie devolves into an exploration of how society defines its heroes. The movie’s latter half is poorly paced, tonally inconsistent, and steers clear of the elements of the film that worked early on.
Despite strong comedic performances from the film’s leads, Two Thumbs Up offers up an uneven mix of jokes and moral quandaries that aren’t substantial enough to appease those looking to enjoy either a comedy or a dramatic film.