Tsui Hark was almost living a cinematic double
life when he directed this film in 1985. After releasing a few non-commercial
films (Don’t Play with Fire and We are Going to Eat You) that did quite
badly at the box office, he hired himself out to Cinema City. Cinema City
was primarily known for its pratfall/stunt type of comedies such as the
Aces Go Places series. From 1981 to 1985 Tsui directed a few of these
comedies – Aces Go Places III, All the Wrong Clues, All the Wrong Spies
and this film – to good effect. They followed the City Cinema formula and
were quite successful at the box office.
These were not the type of films though that Tsui
wanted to be doing. So at the same time he was doing these he also made
the classic Zu Warriors, the evocative Shanghai Blues and was preparing
for perhaps his greatest film (and possibly the best HK film) Peking Opera
Blues in 1986.
Working Class, which is the most obscure of his
Cinema City work, deserves much better. It is actually quite funny at times,
has enjoyable chemistry between the actors and has some interesting visual
touches. It is a broad humorous look at the conflict between the working
class and management and there are moments that reminded me of Chaplin’s
Modern Times. There is a lot of spirit in the film and it is all very black
and white with the workers being on the side of right and management being
your basic scum! This sort of heavy handedness doesn’t matter in a film
like this though – its all for good laughs.
Sam Hui is constantly getting fired from jobs
– often for no reason of his own. So too are Tsui Hark and Teddy Robins
– though in their case it usually is their fault. They meet in a soccer
match (watch Hui perform some great kicks) and initially become enemies
of each other until they end up working at the same noodle factory where
they bond over their dislike of management (Ng Man-Tat). Ng Man-Tat does
everything he can to get them fired, but it always backfires on him.
At the same time Hui has fallen in love with Joey
Wong – but she is hiding the fact from him that she is from a very wealthy
family because he told her that he would never marry a rich girl. In fact
it turns out that her father is the Chairman of the noodle factory – one
of many coincidences – such as Sam finding out that the Chairman is out
of town and he takes Joey to the Chairman’s home (with hot and cold running
servants) for dinner pretending that it is his!
Hui is such a personable actor that its impossible
not to enjoy watching him – and amazingly talented as well. In the 70’s
and 80’s he was one of the most popular singers in HK, had a famous comedy
act with his brother Michael and on top of that he is a terrific athlete
– as shown in a kick boxing match in this film. This is one of Joey Wong’s
very earliest roles and she just looks so good. Tsui was to employ her
again two years later in the classic Chinese Ghost Story.
The oddest actor to watch though is Tsui Hark
himself. One would never guess from seeing his acting performances that
he was this brilliant innovative director. Tall, skinny, gangly and slightly
goofy looking with that goatee he seems as far away from genius as one
can get. In everything I have seen him in – Yes Madam, I Love Maria, All
the Wrong Spies his acting is so broad and farcical that its hard to believe
that he would be able to get such great performances out of other actors.
This is an enjoyable film – less madcap by far
than many of the Cinema City films – somewhat touching at times – and it
of course has a few Sam Hui tunes thrown in.
My rating for this film: 7.5
Distributed by Universe
Perfect picture – the colors are rich and full
– on occasion the sound levels dropped – but only for a few seconds.
Star information on Sam Hui and Tsui Hark
Trailers on this film (of great footage not
in the film itself), Games Gamblers Play, The Private Eyes and the Last
Subtitles in Traditional and Simplified Chinese,
English and Bahasa