12 July 2011 | sccoverton
Shaw Bros B-Movie ticks boxes, but little more.
The Rat Catcher follows the adventures of single father Lin (Liu, Lu Hua) as he tries to scrape a living in the mean streets of Hong Kong and keep his children in their New Territories nursery. In doing so, he continually comes into contact with bumbling traffic cop Brother Neoi and sassy pickpocket Anna ("Tanny" Tien Ni). The former finds that arresting Lin (with his acquiescence) gets him rapidly promoted, and the latter finds the man to be a soft touch and rips him off at every opportunity, even as she scams shop owners, tourists and just about everyone else. Still, Lin and Anna have more than a little in common and they strike up a partnership in petty crime. They soon find that their obligations to Brother Neoi, and each other, run deeper than they thought.
This is a nice film, but nothing more. Many scenes feel like filler and it's often contrived and predictable. However, like many of the Shaw Bros films, it captures an interesting moment in Hong Kong's past - the chase through Central is like stepping into the past (and it looks like it was shot guerrilla-style!); the costumes and hairstyles are straight out of a 1970s clothing catalogue; and there are elements of the kind of screwball cop comedies and rom-coms that were so characteristic of 70s and 80s Hong Kong movies.
Still, there's no denying that this is a B picture, and probably only for fans of the lovely Tanny (Tien Ni) in what is likely one of her better roles. The film has been restored for DVD as part of Celestial Pictures excellent Shaw Bros reissue programme, but only in the Mandarin version.