23 April 2003 | LennyRenquist
MY (equal) FAVOURITE MOVIE (along with numerous others) OF ALL TIME!
It's 1975. A time of funky pants. Muscle cars. Ridiculous sideburns. Porn-star moustaches. Bruce Lee still rules the world of action movies (despite being dead), and I haven't even been BORN yet.
Sydney. Jack Wilton (The Laze) is a bad-ass crime lord with a penchant for cravats, orange velvet sofas and all things Oriental. Under the cover of his legitimate import/export business, he runs an international drug-smuggling outfit with connections in Hong Kong. Two federal narcotics cops, Grosse (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Toecutter from Mad Max) and Taylor (Roger Ward, Fifi from - er - Mad Max) manage to catch Win Chan (Sammo Hung), a member of this Hong Kong connection, following a well-staged--yet amusingly pointless--fight sequence atop Uluru (sorry, Ayers Rock). Chan is to be extradited, as soon as he testifies against Wilton. But the Aussie cops hadn't counted on the extradition officer being a certain Inspector Fang Sing-Ling (Jimmy Wang Yu), of Hong Kong Special Branch ("What's so special about Special Branch?" you ask? Watch the movie and find out!). Fang is a loose cannon, to say the least, and is intent on bringing down Wilton's entire operation himself, no matter how much of Sydney he has to destroy in the process.
This was the first (and as far as I'm aware, only) Australia/Hong Kong co-production, and it's an unusual (but highly entertaining) hybrid. It's full of excellent martial arts sequences, choreographed by Sammo, and amazing stunt work, thanks to chop-socky god Jimmy Wang Yu and Aussie stunt legend Grant Page. But Brian Trenchard-Smith (who went on to direct the classic BMX Bandits, featuring one of Australia's finest acting talents: David Argue) has injected it with a heavy dose of laid-back, tongue-in-cheek Aussie style. It also has some touches reminiscent of Hollywood action movies, in particular the brilliant car chase, in the course of which we see a brand new Charger (That's a VALIANT Charger, not a DODGE Charger, for all you Yanks out there) gradually reduced to a smoking wreck. It must be seen to be believed.
Jimmy Wang Yu appears to be almost completely lacking in both charisma and humour, but this may have something to do with the language barrier. He doesn't seem confident speaking English much of the time. He does, however, play "p--sed off" very well, and this gets him through. Besides, The Laze has more than enough charisma to go around, and there's plenty of humour provided by the cops (particularly Keays-Byrne, who's obviously enjoying himself). The film is also intentionally peppered with bits of political incorrectness, sending up the attitudes of the day ("Talk about the bloody yellow peril!" quips Grosse, surveying the aftermath of one of Fang's escapades).
But the fun doesn't stop there! No, siree! There's babes! There's hang-gliding! There's...babes hang-gliding! There's assassinations! There's a young, svelte Bill Hunter! There's fake blood! There's Grant Page RIPPING HIS PANTS! There's nice scenery! And, of course, there's the obligatory pre-dawn kung fu practise on top of a hill overlooking a nice beach.
The only sore point, for mine, is the terrible "hit" theme song by Jigsaw. The rest of the music's great. Very period. Very funky. But that song...well...it just...sucks.
As a lover of cult cinema, a fan of kung fu movies, someone who's proud of Aussie filmmakers (when they get it right), and someone who just loves to be entertained for an hour or two without having to do very much, this movie is almost impossible to fault. If you're a wowser who believes in political correctness at any cost, or someone who faints at the sight of orange paint (when substituted for blood), steer well clear. But I happen to enjoy this sort of thing. So DON'T GIVE ME ANY S--T!