Aces Go Places
In 1980 Karl Maka, Dean Shek and Raymond Wong
formed a new production company that they called Cinema City. Over the
next decade the company produced a large number of films that in general
were family oriented comedies that contained loads of slapstick antics,
sight gags, corny romances and stunts. A lot of the comedy often appears
20 years later juvenile in nature, but some of it still feels inspired
and amusing as well.
The largest success that the company had was
the series of the Aces Go Places films that began in 1982 and continued
with four sequels until 1989. The films were extremely popular (and still
are today) and the three main actors Samuel Hui, Karl Maka and Sylvia
Chang - were to appear in all of them (with the exception of Sylvia in
the fifth film). The list of directors for these five films is fairly impressive
Eric Tsang directed the first two, Tsui Hark the third, Ringo Lam the
fourth and Lar Kar-leung the fifth.
The films are incredibly high spirited very
silly at times full of slapstick and pratfall humor, eye opening stunts,
a tune from Sam Hui and excellent action sequences. Though the action and
stunts tend to be quite fun and imaginative, I find the comedy to be very
hit and miss. Some of it is extremely clever but much of it is too broad
and farcical for my taste almost Three Stooges type humor which can
wear a bit thin at times.
What the films do have going for them though
is terrific chemistry between the three main characters. Hong Kong films
had a tradition of the buddy film that was made very popular by Michael
Hui in the 70s. This series of films continues that tradition, but adds
the wonderful Sylvia Chang to the mix. Sam Hui (Michaels younger brother)
is King Kong smart, good looking, a great physical athlete (performs
the majority of the action scenes), a weakness for a pretty face and the
heart of a fifteen year adolescent. Karl Maka plays Kodojack a.k.a. Baldie
a.k.a. Albert a Chinese American cop completely full of his own high
opinion of himself and very little of it justified. Then to round them
out is Sylvia Chang as HK policewoman Nancy Ho - who can be as ferocious
as a pit bull or soft and tender as a lullaby. The three of them play off
one another to wonderful advantage have great timing and beneath the
insults, threats and the braggadocio they create a warm sense of friendship
and loyalty to one another.
In this first episode the three characters are
introduced to one another and are initially all at odds with each other.
The film begins in James Bondian fashion with a pre-credit action sequence
that is very good. Sam has a bit of a larcenous nature and steals a bag
of diamonds from some Mafioso types by shooting a harpoon from a roof top
into a building across the road and then sliding down the rope, crashing
into the room, grabbing the diamonds and escaping on a hidden motorcycle
in the building and then later on a hang glider.
The Mafia head doing his best Brando stuffed
mouth imitation sends White Gloves to HK to recover the valuables and
to kill Hui. Word of this leaks out and White Gloves number one nemesis
in the world Super Sleuth Kodojack also comes to HK to track down his
prey. He is teamed up with a tough grouchy cop - Sylvia Chang - and it
is loathing on first sight. They do eventually warm up to each other
and Sylvia soon gets as giddy as a schoolgirl around her Albert. And Albert
is only to happy to remind her, that she is closing in on thirty old
maid territory and who but him would still marry her!
Eventually, the two of them force Hui to co-operate
with them to catch White Glove but he has given the diamonds to his accomplice
Dean Shek who has hidden them and then disappeared. The only clues
they have to the whereabouts of the loot are tattoos on the bottoms of
two of Sheks girlfriends! Trying to uncover them leads to crazy shenanigans
involving the triads and the HK ballet (run by Tsui Hark). Much of this
is fairly entertaining and the comedy feels a bit lower key in contrast
to the sequels in many ways.
My rating for this film: 8.0
Distributor - Universe
The transfers for all the films in this series
are universally excellent. Crisp image and great color.
Letterbox - almost extremely so!
Trailer + previews of: Aces Go Places II, III,
Subs - English, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese,
Japanese, Korean, Bahasa Malaysian and Indonesian
Star files - Sam Hui, Karl Maka, Sylvia Chang
and Eric Tsang.
Easy to read subs on black border beneath picture.