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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Retro Review: Aces Go Places (1982) #Hongkongcinema

Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission (Zeoi Gaai Paak Dong)
Cast: Samuel Hui, Karl Maka, Sylvia Chang, Dean Shek, Robert Houston
Genre: Action Comedy
Hong Kong Box Office Gross: over $26 million 

Plot: A suave, smooth burglar in King Kong tries to make up for his thieving ways by teaming up with Albert 'Baldy' Au, a bumbling Taishanese police detective from the US. Both work together to try and find a set of stolen diamonds

'Early Buddy Crime Caper From '80s Hong Kong'

The first in the series of the Aces Go Places comedy films, Aces Go Places was one of Hong Kong's earlier movie successes that eventually spawned comedies such as the Lucky Stars series, as well as additional Cantonese Comedy movies of the country's movie industry. A remake of the Dick Emery film, Get Charlie Tully, for the most part, Aces Go Places was the pioneer of Hong Kong action comedies that had a total of 6 films made. This entry was also directed by Eric Tsang who stars in My Lucky Stars as a bumbling con artist. 

A burglar who dons an all-Black leather outfit named Sam 'King Kong' reforms and redeems himself and joins forces with bumbling American cop, Albert 'Baldy' Hu to track down some stolen diamonds, before they end up in the hands of a European gangster who goes by the nickname of 'White Gloves', with help of fellow cop, Nancy Ho. King Kong is the Chinese equivalent of James Bond: he has all the cool gadgets, and a cool motorbike even. 

This was the first time I'd watched a Hui Bros movie with Samuel operating in the lead role, as well as a first for me to see Karl Maka and as Kodyjack - a play on TV detective, Kojak. Known as 'baldy', he has a distinctive look that makes him a caricature of his own right, in addition to a very deep voice. He is quite a character. Samuel meanwhile has a Jackie Chan look going with him. The pairing works extremely well together and their buddy cop chemistry is rather good. They also share the spotlight with Sylvia Chang, who plays a mean, strict and hot-tempered boss, Superintendent Ho who takes no crap from anyone. She manages to be both intense and hilarious at the same time. The scene where she kicks the chair that Albert tries to sit on, made me laugh. The main cast is good. 

The humour and comedy are broad yet silly in places, but that is what I'd come to expect from a Hong Kong comedy of this type. Though it can be a hit & miss affair, it pretty much depends on whether or not the jokes land. It does look a tad dated, yet here, the jokes and humour still work well and resonate well today, just as it did in 1982. Even for many who are not Chinese as it may get lost in translation. 

If you have seen any of the Lucky Stars movies, then you will enjoy Aces Go Places as it has that similar style of slapstick humour and has action and stunts that are as good as that film. Just like the Lucky Stars series, the film relies on 3 components: comedy, action and charismatic and accomplished actors who can do comedy and action, really well. 

Aces Go Places has a good mixture of all of these and they blend well with each other. It's more akin to James Bond and spy movies in general, as well as general action comedies. It was intentionally created to appeal to an international overseas audience in mind, what with the nods to James Bond, using a relatively large budget, American actors and references to Western-based movies and TV shows.

Final Verdict:

This blend of action, comedy and acting is great to see and this is one of the better earlier Hong Kong films to come out of the post-Shaw Bros period of the 1980s. 

With Jackie Chan's action-comedy, Stephen Chow and Michael Hui's style with that Mission: Impossible and James Bond - spy Western ambience that translates well, it struck a chord with Chinese audiences.  

Fans of classic '80s old school Hong Kong action comedies should give this one a try. 


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