Director/Producer – Benny Chan (New Police Story)
Stunt Choreography – Jackie Chan, Li Chung-Chi and The JC Stunt Team
Louis Koo (Flashpoint)
Michael Hui (Cannonball Run)
STORY (Spoiler-free): Jackie Chan, Louis Koo and Michael Hui play a trio of safe-cracking cat-burglars called Thongs, Octopus and Landlord who rob the rich and give to themselves to feed their various vices including gambling and womanising. After Landlord’s savings are stolen, he asks the team if they’ll do another mission for a massive seven million dollars, even if it means breaking some of their rules. Seeing dollar bills in their eyes, they all agree and end up kidnapping a cute ickle baby that they hope to ransom back.
Whilst escaping from the kidnapping, they crash their car and Thongs and Octopus escape with the baby whilst Landlord goes to jail for two weeks for reckless driving. Whilst in Jail, Landlord sees on the news that the baby belongs to a millionaire couple and the other should look after the baby until he’s out of jail and then they will demand an even higher ransom.
Whilst Thongs and Octopus wait for his release, they have to avoid the hired goons of the gangster that ordered the kidnapping, the investigations of the police trying to find the missing baby, and the stern looks of disapproval from family members that don’t approve of their selfish behaviour.
When the time comes to hand over the baby, will they do it or will heart win over wallet?
Impressions: Well, the main talking point for this movie seemed to be the fact that JC is playing a bad guy for the first time since Rumble in Hong Kong (and before that only Killer Meteors and as a henchman killed by Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon), but even then the character was toned down from the initial ideas of a real nasty thug who beats women, burns people with cigarettes and probably steal the milk from your doorstep. The Chinese censors found the character to be too evil so he was toned down to just a compulsive gambler and thief and for extra comedic value, Louis Koo and HK comedy star, Michael Hui were added.
Obviously, this turns the film into a whimsical action-comedy that needs to be viewed with notion that it’s not serious melodrama, serious childcare documentary or gory thriller. The various scenes of Thongs and Octopus looking after the baby are silly fun and they get into some crazy scrapes whilst trying to protect him.
Action-wise, it takes quite a while for the first fists to be thrown, but even though Jackie isn’t as young as he used to be, he’s still doing eye-popping stunts that he makes look effortless. There’s a fight scene on a trampoline that could have been better than it was and with less wires, and a great sequence on a roller coaster (shot at Ocean Park in HK) but the final dust-up is worth the wait with every bit of scenery used as a weapon including, toys, gym equipment, musical instruments, quad bikes and dirty nappies that show the trademark inventiveness that made JC popular in the first place. There’s some nice shots and fairly long takes too that keep the pace fast and fluid.
Ultimately, the film is a bit of light fun and if you over-analyse it, it soon falls apart. Octopus’ idea of chivalry is insisting his pregnant wife take the bus to the abortion clinic instead of walking whilst he’s on a date with a woman with a rich daddy. This made him very hard to like, but the various comedic escapades with the baby helps change his mind about becoming a dad and in-turn, your opinion of him.
I didn’t know that Yuen Biao was in this before I saw it and I was pleasantly surprised to see he’s not just a cameo, but a proper character that even gets to bust some moves. In one scene, he’s fighting off gangsters and also trying to arrest Thongs, who doesn’t want to come along quietly! It was rumoured for a while that this would also feature Sammo Hung, putting the three stars together for the first time since Dragons Forever, but he had other filming commitments.
The (allegedly) dry commentary of the Dragon Dynasty release hasn’t made this release, but there is a second disc of extras to work your way through. There’s also the usual outtakes reel over the end credits with a great sequence where Jackie escapes from the top of a block of flats by jumping down the air conditioning units only to be faced by Yuen Biao who’s supposed to arrest him, but instead gets the giggles, forcing Jackie to do the take again, including the vertigo-inducing descent.