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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Retro Review: My Lucky Stars (1985) #JackieChan, #Hongkongcinema

My Lucky Stars (Fuk sing go jiu)
Cast: Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Yuen Baio, Eric Tsang, Richard Ng, Charlie Chin, Chiang-Lin, Stanley Fung, Sibelle Hu, Hui-Zhong 
Genre: Action Slapstick Comedy 
Lifetime Gross: $30, 748, 643 (Hong Kong) 

Plot: A corrupt Hong Kong cop flees to Tokyo, Japan to join his fellow mobsters whose headquarters are secretly built under an amusement park. Two cops, Ricky (Yuen Biao) and Muscles (Jackie Chan) travel there to apprehend him, but Ricky is kidnapped. Muscle goes into hiding and asks to send in his friends nicknamed the five Lucky Stars to rescue him 

'A Cross Between The British Carry On Movies & Kung Fu Action'

Hong Kong cinema used to be huge during the 1970s and 1980s, and with the latter was made even more popular in its native homeland thanks to production company, Golden Harvest who have churned out hits such as Winners and Sinners to Police Story. My Lucky Stars is a comedy sequel to the first movie, Winners and Sinners and of which became the most successful and lucrative movie in the franchise. It was released at a time where Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung were about to peak in their careers in the mid-1980s. 

My Lucky Stars isn't really a Jackie Chan movie, even though he does get screen-time, but rather it's an ensemble cast movie featuring some of the biggest names in Hong Kong cinema and TV during the 1980s. 

The general plot in this film is very difficult to follow (& my level of Cantonese is not very good, however in hearing it and reading the English translation at the same time, I can understand it - hey I am a British born Chinese & I consider English to be my first language); actually, all the Lucky Stars movies lack having an actual plot, but once you get all the humour, silly slapstick and jokes, it pretty much makes sense. It's all about the characters, the situations they find themselves in, as silly and humourous as they are, and how with Jackie Chan they come to together to foil the bad guys, rescue Ricky and for the pair of them to bust a bent cop, who has stolen some gems. 

Those characters are in the form of 5 trusted- yet bumbling crooks and ex-cons, and Sammo Hung's character begins recruiting the old gang: Rawhide, Dandy, Herb & Roundhead, namely the 'Lucky Stars', along with a cop, Barbara (or be it Miss Woo) played by Sibelle Hu, whose mere presence catches their beady eyes and they, in turn, become infatuated with her. The Lucky Stars crew act like a bunch of horny, perverted boys, who think of nothing but to bed her. The manner that this is presented in the film will either make you laugh and smile, - or annoy the heck out of you. The second act of the film consists of comedy scenes that are very slapstick and bawdy in its approach and are outlandish. 

The scene where the guys take it in turns by tying themselves up to the female cop for fun is highly amusing, you will be in a fit of giggles. It is almost akin to what you will see in say in Benny Hill and a British Carry On movie starring Sid James, Barbara Windsor and Kenneth Williams. Things such as pouring itching powder or whatever in someone's briefs when they are asleep, the kidnapping/hostage scene and Sibelle Hu's character about to go to bed when she realises there is something lurking underneath the mattress - which turns out to be Sammo Hung and co, who were really mucking about & acting immature are just three examples of this. The pranks and farce humour are caricatured as being downright silly, low-brow and bordering on absurdity, but yet it's still funny - that's if you don't mind this type of comedy and humour. If you can get by some of this, then you will enjoy this movie a lot. 

Some of the jokes work, whereas there are some that don't hit you over the head, rather you need to get the joke by understanding the English context or translation of it first, for it to make sense. Therefore, some of the cultural jokes in this film may fall flat on non- East Asian viewers. 

The comedy is the essential element provided by the Lucky Stars of Rawhide, Dandy, Herb & Roundhead, whereas the fighting and action scenes are second nature - these are mostly dominated by Muscles (Jackie Chan), Ricky (Yuen Baio) & Kidstuff (Sammo Hung); there are in total just 3 prominent fight scenes. The fight scenes especially are terrifically choreographed and well executed; glass is shattered, bad guys flying about getting their arses handed to them, it's the quality one would come to expect in Hong Kong cinema. One of the scenes features a showdown between Sibelle Hu and Nischiwaki Michiko, and their encounter is quite a spectacle. 

Would the film be a whole lot better with more scenes featuring Jackie Chan? Of course - he lights up the screen whenever he kicks ass and unleashes his fury of moves. Still, although there are some parts of the movie that could have been improved, this is still a funny martial arts comedy film, nonetheless. 

Final Verdict:

Those going into this film expecting this to be a typical Jackie Chan dominated martial arts flick - especially after looking at the region 1 DVD cover, will need to be aware that this is not the case, as he plays more of a supporting or cameo role to the other actors. My Lucky Stars isn't therefore, A Jackie Chan film per-se, but it is still a good movie to watch for the other cast members and their respective characters, as well as for some of the other action and humour. 

The heavy reliance of comedy over action, as well as the lack of Jackie himself, may be a potential deciding factor for some fans of martial arts movies and Jackie Chan movies.

If you are into goofy, farce and low-brow humour and don't mind some fun, at the expense of some daftness and stupidity thrown in, in addition, to say fewer Kung Fu fights, then My Lucky Stars will appeal to you. 

I for one enjoyed it very much. 


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