THEY CAME TO ROB HONG KONG (1989) short review

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Clarence Fok’s They Came to rob Hong Kong concerns a violent bank robber (Roy Cheung) who has to flee to the Mainland after being nearly caught by a tough cop (Kara Hui). There, he recruits a ragtag team of hapless morons (among which Eric Tsang, Stanley Fung, Sandra Ng, Dean Shek and Chin Siu Ho) to come back to Hong Kong and attempt a daring heist. Except they’re hapless morons, so nothing goes according to plan. This film is actually a complete rehash of any Lucky Stars film : even though only Fung and Tsang were actually members of the comedic team, other members of the cast fit the usual Lucky Stars profiles, as Chin Siu Ho brings the martial arts that would’ve been Sammo Hung’s turf, and Dean Shek has the same kind of paranormal pretensions that Richard Ng’s character would display. The structure is also the same : an action-packed opening sequence (in this case an impressive and savage fight and chase scene on cluttered rooftops, as the terrific Kara Hui hunts down Roy Cheung) gives way to a comedic middle-section where, among other subplots, the group is given a beautiful woman to lust after (in this case, Chingmy Yau), after which things are wrapped up in a big action finale. Except while the action bookends are fine, the comedic middle is painfully unfunny and interminable. While Eric Tsang is always hilarious, Sandra Ng’s shtick quickly gets wearisome, and the ensemble simply doesn’t have the Lucky Star’s chemistry. **

THIS GIRL IS BADASS (aka JUKKALAN) (2011) review

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The budding Thai martial arts star Jeeja Yanin’s third and latest film as a lead, This Girl is Badass was directed and co-stars Petchtai Wongkamlao, a popular Thai comedian best known worldwide as Tony Jaa’s comic relief in the Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong films. JJ plays Jukkalan, a bike delivery girl who runs afoul of rival mobsters who hired her and whose dirty money she kept for herself. But this short plotline accounts only for a small fraction of the film’s scenes (mostly the action scenes). The bulk of the film actually focuses on Jukkalan’s world : her uncle Sawang (Petchtai Wongkamlao), who secretly pines for a pretty widow (Siriporn Eiamsuk) whose late husband he actually assassinated in his violent and unspoken past (this sounds somber but is treated in a very matter-of-fact way in the film, and never addressed when the two get closer) ; her boss Samureng (Akom Preedakul), a good-natured weirdo with a knack for outrageous outfits ; Duan (Chalerm Yamchamang), a lovesick and awkward boy who loves her but can’t seem to catch a break ; and, among a few others, Pong (Athit Amonwet) the boy she loves, but who she finds out is actually more interested in ‘elephant fights’ (we’ll let you guess or discover what that means).

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