“Dumplings are like ingots.”
Curiosity and having to complete filmographies can be dangerous to our mental health (or at least a waste of valuable time) in viewing cinema. It can also be rewarding when you see that film that is underrated and underappreciated, but most often I will settle for fleeting glimpses of sagaciousness, a few chuckles, memorable lines or at least one good scene. I have seen so many mediocre to bad films just because Jackie Chan is in it (include Police Woman which is also directed by Chu Mu) and the same goes for Sammo Hung. I was surprised when early on I got to see Sammo Hung as a rickshaw driver. Unfortunately, he is not in the rest of the film and Jackie (billed as Chan Yuen-lung using Sammo Hung’s Peking opera school name) is not in it until much later.
This movie is mostly known as the film in which Jackie Chan has a love scene (technically he has a couple in the movie; I believe he had not had another one until Shinjuku Incident and later he had one deleted out of 1911). But he also does not do any martial arts or action in it other than explaining the proper way to use a rickshaw (one of my favorite scenes in the movie and a prognosticator toward his later physical comedy though in his later scenes he is completely misused as a boy toy). The movie though is not really a sex comedy. That only happens toward the last vignette of the movie (his plot comes in toward the last third of the film, but even then it is interrupted with other plotlines) and it certainly is not a porn movie which Jackie has described it as. He has hurt himself with his statements on this because this canard still lives on.*
This is a Chinese New Year (year of the rabbit) comedy so it is full of then popular actors out of Golden Harvest’s lineup including Tanny Tien Ni (Black Magic), Wang Lai (over 200 films in her career), James Tien (The Hand of Death), Carter Wong (Hapkido, The Legendary Strike) and many more. When there is a variety of stars to showcase what better approach is to create lots of different vignettes and storylines that do not or barely connect. I am being factitious because the plot is rambling with very little cohesion. These problems could be forgiven if the film was funny or interesting but too often you end a scene with a freeze frame of a character’s face after a bad joke. The longest story is of a mother whose frugal husband has recently died and her horrible sons and daughter-in-laws take very poor care of her until one son makes fake ingots for her to “pretend” to hide so she appears to be rich. Then the family members treat her well expecting to reap from her when she is deceased. One jest had a dumpling seller stating that his old dumplings had killed a kid the day before all after he tried to sell the same rotten dumplings to a rickshaw owner – actually I kind of liked that one. Can you believe they even put in a banana peel gag with the completely expected payoff? Can you believe it did decent, though not quite making the top 10 for that year, at the Hong Kong box office making over a million Hong Kong dollars at the time? Can you believe I have seen this several times?
There are a few positives though. I liked the animated beginning and end credits, done by Au Ching, which I have not often seen in Hong Kong films. The Peking Opera scene was done well with a few barbs towards the art including: “It’s costlier than big theaters.” The sets are detailed (it would be interesting to know what other films used this set; the car in the film dates the setting from early to mid 20[sup]th[/sup] Century) and a few of the comedic scenes are bizarrely funny, but most are rambling, trite and inconsistent. This was probably rushed out to make the Chinese New Year timeslot. I would not recommend this movie to anyone other than the morbidly curious or those suffering from Jackie Chan (or Dean Shek) see-everything-itus like myself. I believe that includes most of you.
I have the R0/NTSC Legendary Collection release from Joy Sales/Fortune Star. The print is decent, though the credits are slightly cropped, and the subtitles are better than many from this collection without the gender mix-ups that are prevalent with these releases, but it is not without spelling and grammatical mistakes. The language is in Mandarin, which was the original release language. The subtitles are Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and English. The extras are a trailer and a photo gallery.
* For example I found a mention in the site omg-facts which states a couple of falsehoods, one that the film is pornographic another that the film is a “classic.” I have seen so many North American R-rated films that have worse sex-scenes. Sammo Hung’s later released The Iron-Fisted Monk has much more explicit scenes as well as several Shaw Brothers films at the same time like Black Magic. Ultimately I think that the translation was off, Jackie’s memory is hazy or Jackie misunderstands what porn is. The article that many people have quoted is titled Jackie Chan Admits Acting in Porn Movie (I first saw this written up in China Daily; quoted below):
Kung Fu film star Jackie Chan Monday admitted that he acted in a porn movie 31 years ago, responding to a report revealed by Hong Kong media, Information Times reported Tuesday.
"I had to do anything I could to make a living 31 years ago, but I don't think it's a big deal, even Marlon Brando used to be exposed in his movies," Chan said. "The porn movie at that time was more conservative than the current films," he said.
Hong Kong netizens tipped local media that Chan was in the porn movie "All in the Family" in 1975, with a porn movie star who was famous at that time.
The Hong Kong made movie, directed by Zhu Mu, was defined as a comedy. Dean Shek, Tien Chun, and Sammo Hung were also co-stars.
Keywords: automobile, Bolang Gu (pellet drum), electric fan, nudity, Peking opera, Republic era, rickshaw, telephone.
Book: I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (1998) by Jackie Chan with Jeff Yang
Previous post of review.
I have the only review of this film on both HKMDB and IMDB.
Kind of strange seeing Carter Wong, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung in the same film with no fighting at all.
It is interesting to see the Peking Opera scene where they toss around steaming hot towels. “…waiters hurried around filling tea cups and throwing steaming-hot towels to customers to refresh themselves in the badly ventilated building (speed was crucial to keep the towels hot enough.)” from Soul of Beijing Opera (2010) by Li Ruru
The Wikipedia entry is rather worthless. It gets the language wrong as well.
I am not sure who the local porn star was if indeed there was one. Any answer on this would be helpful.
Any idea what car was used?