Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Aces Go Places (aka Mad Mission)

                                                    Director: Eric Tsang
                                  Starring: Sam Hui, Karl Maka, Sylvia Chang

This 1982 action/comedy/satire is one of the key early titles of the modern Hong Kong action movement. Released by Cinema City (a then major new movie studio), this was the first in a series of all out spectacles that broke new ground with it's combination of comedy and (at the time) state of the art stuntwork which took Hong Kong movie audiences by storm.

It was created by Cinema City executive Karl Maka. Instantly recognizable for his bald head and goatie, Maka was a comedic actor in several kung fu comedies in the late 70s. Being a fan of the Hui Brothers' (Michael, Sam and Ricky) "Mr. Boo" comedies and aware of the squabble amongst them, he invited Sam to join him in his new venture, a satire of the James Bond series. The teaming of the two was a masterstroke and one of the great mismatched duos was formed.

In the film, Sam Hui plays King Kong (renamed Sam in the dubbed version), a cat burglar who steals a fortune in diamonds and then finds himself persued by "The Godfather" (a Brando impersonator) who sends the notorious international bandit, White Glove (a European Jewel thief reminicent of David Niven's Phantom in The Pink Pnather) to retrieve them. Karl Maka plays conniving, yet bumbling cop, Albert Au (renamed Kodijak in the dubbed version in an obvious reference to Kojak), White Glove's sworn enemy. The film features his attempts to first track King Kong down and then get him to reveal the location of the stolen diamonds. However, once they find their collective paths dogged by White Glove and various other characters, the cop and thief form an alliance. The film also stars actress Sylvia Chang as Ha Tung, a hot tempered police woman who winds up having a love-hate affair with Maka's character (in subsequent films in the series, the two get married and have a child). Chang is very appealing in this role and plays off Maka perfectly, making for a very memorable squabbling couple. The climax of the film features a group of toy car bombs that was later ripped off wholesale in the Dirty Harry film, The Dead Pool.

Filled with broad, yet sharp wit and some still amazing car and aerial stunts, Aces Go Places is a perfect introduction to the Hong Kong action comedy genre. Later Hong Kong action comedies were able to trump this in the action and fighting department, but few were able to strike the near perfect balance of amazing stuntwork and dead-on satire with such memorable, likable lead characters that make this film (and it's sequels) so much fun to watch.

On another note, it also features one of the most memorable theme songs I've ever heard featuring a fuzz guitar riff that recalls the Bond theme while playing over it is a whistling main tune that will stay with you for days after (in a good way, that is).

                                                           *** / ****

No comments:

Post a Comment