It was a nice surprise seeing this old chestnut
from 1986 finally making an appearance on DVD like a hobgoblin on Halloween.
I have wanted to see it for a long while now due to the gwielo presence
of Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton. I always enjoy Rothrock’s bad hairdos
and Norton’s smirky superior demeanor as well as their ability to crack
a few heads. Their participation generally tends to signify a “B” action
film filled with loads of well-choreographed fights and a minimal plot.
This film certainly fills that bill. One thing bothers me though. After
having watched “Righting Wrongs” the other day on the big screen, I have
to wonder whether it was impossible to find a blond wig in Hong Kong around
the mid-80’s – was there a shortage of some kind due to an unusual infestation
of locusts. In both films, Cynthia is clearly doubled during the difficult
acrobatic stunts – clearly because the obvious not very attractive male
who is doing it is wearing a long dark wig. Did they think no one would
notice? She begins her flip in blonde – goes suddenly dark – and than amazingly
when she lands again she is blonde. The same goes for Norton in this film.
They can afford to fly to Greece, but that damn blonde wig would have put
them over budget I guess. Of course, it may possibly be more sinister than
that – perhaps it was Chinese pride wanting to make it loud and clear that
gweilos were unable to perform these moves and only the Chinese could!
Admittedly, there are a lot worse things to complain
about in this Wong Jing film than the obvious doubling. The plot
is as silly as a three-legged hootchie-kootchie dancer as Wong surrounds
some absolutely terrific action scenes with the typical gaggle of his assorted
trademark humor but on top of this adds an annoyingly sweet child who often
hogs the screen. It is a shame that the DVD doesn’t offer a version of
only the action scenes, but of course then you would miss Natalis Chan
having his hands and feet switched around by a spell, Wong Jing grunting
on the toilet, a walking/talking rock, Natalis trying to use his supposed
supernatural powers to get Cheung Man out of her clothes (always a worthy
effort), an alien that looks like a dirty mud encrusted sock and Andy Lau
touring around Athens. Actually, the Natalis hand/foot bit was rather amusing.
The action from choreographer Tony Leung Siu Hung
(Coolie Killer, In the Line of Duty III, Satin Steel) is a lot of fun –
fast moving, intricate and playful – and there is a lot of it. One tends
to forget now that Andy Lau had a fair amount of martial arts training
at TVB early in his career and though his true skills may be minimal he
certainly can fake it very well. He is urbanely graceful here in his moves
– sort of a leg kicking Cary Grant – and receives more than able assistance
from Cynthia, Norton, Max Mok, Phillip Ko, Chung Fat and a rash of other
stuntmen. It’s rare for the film to go very long without winding up another
action sequence – but when it does stop to catch its breath it is like
being poked in the eye.
When the police can’t catch a crook by legal means
they turn to Andy who uses his wits and fists to bring them to justice.
He receives a message from his friend Phillip Ko who asks Andy to come
to Athens because he has something that the KGB are after. For some peculiar
reason Andy takes his assistant (Wong Jing) and his small nephew (Siu Ban
Ban) along with him. At the Parthenon, all these forces come together –
along with two Interpol agents (Cynthia and Max Mok) and a long fight breaks
out that begins on the steps of the Acropolis amid gawking tourists and
then proceeds to the streets of Athens. The movie soon moves back to Hong
Kong where it is discovered that Ko hid his package in Ban Ban’s luggage
– and the bad guys with Norton as their chief comes after them. The package
turns out to be a cheap looking piece of green plastic that is suppose
to be jade – and it has supernatural powers, a little girl’s voice and
the ability to walk. It and Ban Ban become buddies and it helps Ban Ban
beat up the school bully. Whoopee-do. The last third of the movie turns
into Indiana Jones meets E.T. and goes from silly to very silly – but there
is action all along the way.
Into this mélange also are Cheung Man as
Ko’s sister, Natalis Chan as her horny suitor and Sek Kin as a friendly
cop. There is one character whose name I wish I knew – she plays Andy’s
older sister and spends much of the time watching TV until Norton and his
thugs try and kidnap Ban Ban whereupon she suddenly spurts into action
and gives a wonderful display of wusha form. It is all in all a low wattage
outing, but not really a painful one – more just a weird mix of top-notch
action and goofy bad lowbrow comedy.
My rating for this film: 6.0