Friday, September 30, 2011

Aces Go Places 2 (aka Mad Mission Part 2: Aces Go Places)

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

The immediate followup to the wildly successful Aces Go Places (which I reviewed some months ago) is not only my favorite in the series but it just may be the greatest action comedy ever to come out of Hong Kong.

The admittedly difficult to follow story picks up shortly after the first film ended. The Godfather (unseen in this film) is still furious at King Kong and Baldy for having stolen the diamonds (what he and the other charaters never realize is that they no longer have said diamonds). Since White Glove had failed him, he calls on the White House (!) to send their number one assassin, Filthy Harry (an unnamed white actoer who does a dead on Clint Eastwood impression) to kill our heroes. Back in Hong Kong (where the remaining 95% of the film takes place) King Kong finds himself repeatedly setup by a deceitful damsal who tricks him into robbing a bank. Fleeing from the cops, he interrupts Baldy and Ha Tung's wedding, leading to further bickering amongst the trio. In addition to Filthy Harry, Kong and Baldy find their trail dogged by a Japanese gangster (verteran Yasuaki Kurata in a memorably low key comedic turn) and must also deal with an escaped mental patient who's posing as an F.B.I. agent (hilariously played by Tsui Hark who nearly steals the film).

If the above plot description makes the film sound a bit disorienting, it's because it is. The story veers off in all kinds of directions that exist for the sole reason to hold the action and comedy together. Yet it all works and works wonderfully, thanks in no small part to the deft direction of Eric Tsang. Tsang did an excellent job on the first entry and manages to up the ante considerably here. For me, this film is ninety minutes of sheer joy as it breathlessly goes from one frentic setpiece to another. The fight scenes are an improvement (though admittedly they're still not at the level of what Jackie Chan and Smmo Hung were performing) and the car chases though pretty remarkable in the first, are improved ten fold here. The mid film chase alone (including backwards driving for much of it) is one of the greatest of it's type ever filmed. Then there are Filthy Harry's robots (yes, imagine Clint Eastwood with a pair of giant robots at his disposal). There is an entire sequence where Harry's giant bot battles Kong's army of small toy bots and it may be the highlight of the film (well for this robot loving fan, anyway).

But the heart of the film's enjoyment remains our ever loveable trio of mismatched heroes. Sam Hui, Karl Maka and Sylvia Chang have now grown into their roles and are a true joy to watch as they play off each other with a rare level of charm for this type of movie. They supply the film with it's soul and keep everything well grounded, despite the almost constant craziness that goes on around them.

Complete with the welcome return of the James Bond, whistling, fuzz guitar theme (as identifiable to this series as anything else), Aces Go Places 2 is an endlessly enjoyable and inventive farce. Easily one of my favorite films, I've watched this a dozen or so times over the years and it's still as fresh and enjoyable as the first time I viewed it. A desert island film to be sure.

                                                           **** / ****

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