All the Wrong Spies

This early Cinema City offering is sort of a Mad Mad World runs over Casablanca, but falls way short of either. It has its moments, but much of it seems to have been put together on the spot without too much thought as to where to go from there. The film though gets off to an inspired start that had me hoping.

The year is 1938 and in a prologue, the narrator states that Nazi Germany has invented the hydrogen bomb, but a Jewish scientist has escaped with the formula and has ended up in HK to contact an American. The scene then shifts to George Lam lying in bed with a woman and there is a knock on the door. They jump out of bed and in an inspired sequence quickly turn the boudoir into his office and the woman into his secretary. Then a minute later the opening credits roll and during them Lam pours an entire container of milk into a small cup. And it never overflows. In fact there is nothing in the cup. Probably a simple trick, but I liked it.

At any rate these were the best comic bits in the film. Lam (think Bogart) it turns out is a mercenary Chinese spy and he is ordered to help the scientist contact the American. The chief of police (Paul Chun Pui) though is a Japanese sympathizer and he finds the formula first and plans to hand it over to the their emissary. Lam turns to his friend, a police inspector – Teddy Robin Kwan (think Claude Rains) – to help him find it. Another twist is that Lam’s old girlfriend is now Paul’s fiancée. This though is the wonderful Brigitte Lin (think Ingrid Bergman) and she too is of course a Chinese patriot. In fact she makes a lovely Mata Hari and wears many chic outfits in the film. She turns out to be quite handy with a whip and kung fu.

Brigitte’s presence made this film quite worthwhile. She is terrific. I have never quite understood the popularity of either Lam or Robin and this film didn’t change that. Look also for Tsui Hark as the evil Japanese emissary and Shing Fui-On as one of the bumbling guards. Not a terrible film – some good funny moments – but it seemed a little uninspired with the exception of Ms. Lin. In the HK Database though someone mentions that there was a lot of funny wordplay here that I unfortunately could not get.
Lam,Tsui Hark and Paul Chun Pui