Winners and Sinners
This is the first in the series of films that
came to be called The Lucky Stars and right from the opening shots the
tone of the series is set. The films focus on a group of five slightly
bumbling, slightly crooked friends who band together to fend off the rest
of the world. Often they fight among themselves, but when the chips are
down they are always there for one another.
Sammo Hung directs this with an infectious mix
of comedy and action. The comedy can seem fairly adolescent at times, but
sometimes its pure silliness can be very winning. Though the comedy may
not be to everyone’s taste, the action is absolutely top notch. The stunts
and fights are as good as anything you will see. The main thrust of these
Lucky Star films though is the comedy and the chemistry of the characters
with action scenes a secondary concern.
The first few scenes introduce us to the five
main characters in very amusing vignettes. Sammo is a cat burglar who spies
a darkened apartment that seems like a good candidate for a quick heist.
After he breaks in, the lights go on and he realizes that it is a surprise
party for someone other than himself - though he still takes the time to
kiss a girl! Oops – time to go and he makes his escape by sliding down
a wire – right into a waiting police van.
Richard Ng who has some beautifully comic moments
in this film is a car thief, but makes the mistake of trying to steal the
car of a police inspector (Philip Chan) with him underneath it.
Charlie Chin – the suave handsome one in the group
– has a great scam going to steal jewelry – but gets caught in the middle
of a real robbery and gets nabbed by the cops.
John Sham (Curley) is a union organizer for prostitutes
and the less than happy massage owners set him up to be arrested.
The final member of the fivesome is Stanley Fung.
All of them end up in jail where they become fast
friends and when they are released – amazingly on the same day – they decide
to stay together and open a cleaning service. They all crash at Sham’s
house where his sister also lives. They tentatively ask Sham “from
the same mother and father?” When he affirms this their hopes are dashed
but they soon rise quickly when Cherie Chung comes out of the kitchen.
Cherie has a large role in this film and looks
terrific. Later she gets right in the middle of the action and receives
(and gives) a few hard looking whacks. She is the first of the Lucky
Star girls in which the tradition is quickly set where all the men (not
her brother in this case!) chase after them and make every attempt to romance
them or at the very least grab a feel. This is all done in a very schoolboy
manner and is never successful.
The first hour of the film is nearly all comedy
– with one priceless routine in which Richard Ng thinks he is invisible
– but after some counterfeit plates accidentally end up with them – it
turns into some great action.
Jackie Chan plays a cop who is after the counterfeiters.
Though Jackie’s role is more an extended cameo than a primary one, he does
have time for one good fight and then an incredible sequence in which he
chases a car on roller skates for miles. This has a few amazing stunts
and then leads to possibly the biggest car pileup ever seen this side of
a Burt Reynolds film – it goes on and on until some fifty cars are wrecked.
The boys and Cherie end up taking on the bad guys
in two different fights – one hilarious and the other one absolutely brilliant.
The fight in the warehouse with Sammo taking on Dick Wei and a multitude
of other henchman is a classic.
Look also for the quick cameo from Yuen Biao and
Moon Lee as his girlfriend. Yuen gets to throw a few punches, but not poor
This film is a lot of fun – with enjoyable performances
from everyone – and can’t be taken at all seriously. Just sit back and
let the silliness and the excellent action entertain you.
My rating for this film: 8.0
For an overview of this series check out Darryl
Pestilence's analysis on Ryan's site - by clicking here