3 October 2012 | SamuraiNixon
Chinese New Year Comedy with Early Jackie Chan
Curiosity and having to complete filmographies can be dangerous to our mental health (or at least a waste of valuable time) in viewing cinema. It can also be rewarding when you see that film that is underrated and under-appreciated, but most often I will settle for fleeting glimpses of sagaciousness, a few chuckles, memorable lines or at least one good scene. I have seen so many mediocre to bad films just because Jackie Chan is in it (include Police Woman which is also directed by Chu Mu) and the same goes for Sammo Hung. I was surprised when early on I got to see Sammo as a rickshaw driver. Unfortunately, he is not in the rest of the film and Jackie (billed as Chan Yuen-lung using Sammo Hung's Peking opera school name) is not in it until much later.
This movie is mostly known as the film in which Jackie Chan has a love scene (technically he has a couple in the movie; I believe he had not had another one until Shinjuku Incident and later he had one deleted out of 1911). But he also does not do any martial arts or action in it other than explaining the proper way to use a rickshaw (one of my favorite scenes in the movie and a prognosticator toward his later physical comedy though in his later scenes he is completely misused as a boy toy). The movie though is not really a sex comedy. That only happens toward the last vignette of the movie (his plot comes in toward the last third of the film, but even then it is interrupted with other plot lines) and it certainly is not a porn movie which Jackie has described it as. He has hurt himself with his statements on this because this canard still lives on.* This is a Chinese New Year (year of the rabbit) comedy so it is full of then popular actors out of Golden Harvest's lineup including Tanny Tien Ni (Black Magic), Wang Lai (over 200 films in her career), James Tien (The Hand of Death), Carter Wong (Hapkido, The Legendary Strike) and many more. When there is a variety of stars to showcase what better approach is to create lots of different vignettes and story lines that do not or barely connect. I am being factitious because the plot is rambling with very little cohesion. These problems could be forgiven if the film was funny or interesting but too often you end a scene with a freeze frame of a character's face after a bad joke. The longest story is of a mother whose frugal husband has recently died and her horrible sons and daughter-in-laws take very poor care of her until one son makes fake ingots for her to "pretend" to hide so she appears to be rich. Then the family members treat her well expecting to reap from her when she is deceased. One jest had a dumpling seller stating that his old dumplings had killed a kid the day before all after he tried to sell the same rotten dumplings to a rickshaw owner – actually I kind of liked that one. Can you believe they even put in a banana peel gag with the completely expected payoff? There are a few positives though. I liked the animated beginning and end credits, done by Au Ching, which I have not often seen in Hong Kong films. The sets are detailed (it would be interesting to know what other films used this set; the car in the film dates the setting from early to mid 20th Century) and a few of the comedic scenes are bizarrely funny, but most are rambling, trite and inconsistent. This was probably rushed out to make the Chinese New Year time-slot. I would not recommend this movie to anyone other than the morbidly curious or those suffering from Jackie Chan see-everything-itus like myself.
I have the R0/NTSC Legendary Collection release from Joy Sales/Fortune Star. The print is decent and the subtitles are better than many from this collection with not many gender mix-ups that are prevalent with these releases, but it is not without spelling and grammatical mistakes. The language is in Mandarin, which was the original release language. The subtitles are Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and English. The extras are a trailer and a photo gallery.
* For example I found a mention on several sites which state that the film is pornographic. I have seen so many North American R-rated films that have worse sex-scenes. Sammo Hung's later released The Iron-Fisted Monk has much more explicit scenes as well as several Shaw Brothers films at the same time like Black Magic. Ultimately I think that the translation was off, Jackie's memory is hazy or Jackie misunderstands what porn is. The article that many people have quoted is titled Jackie Chan Admits Acting in Porn Movie (I first saw this written up in China Daily.)