Aces Go Places
Director: Eric Tsang
Stars: Sam Hui, Karl Maka, Sylvia Chang, Dean Shek, Tsui Hark
A master thief known as King Kong (Hui) lifts a cache of diamonds from the Mafia and manages to fool them (and the police) into thinking that another thief known as White Gloves is the culprit. Stumped, the cops turn to a Chinese-American detective called Kodojack (and Baldy and also Albert...anyway, he's played by Karl Maka) whose arse is on the line after losing White Gloves' trail in the States. They pair him up with a tough policewoman, Nancy (Chang), and eventually the two end up teaming with King Kong to bring down White Gloves.
Karl Maka, along with Dean Shek (who has a minor role in this movie as King Kong's sidekick) and Raymond Wong formed the Cinema City Company in 1980, and even though it only lasted about a decade, Cinema City had a hand in some of Hong Kong's most influential movies, such as A Better Tomorrow (John Woo -- under various pseudonyms -- worked for Cinema City for a time in the early '80's when he was in a creative slump). However, they are best known for their family-oriented comedies, spearheaded by this movie.
Aces Go Places was intentionally done with an international audience in mind, using a (relatively) large budget, western actors and crew, references to Hollywood movies and television shows, and a smattering of English dialogue (some of the Cantonese jokes were also tweaked somewhat to translate better). The movie also has, in many ways, the feel of a old-time Hollywood serial, with cliffhangers or other twists occurring at the end of every reel (15 minutes). However, Aces Go Places also sports the multigenre schematic, pop music integrated into the movie (Sam Hui -- a popular singer offscreen -- sings the movie's theme song), and probably most importantly, manic pacing, heavy Hong Kong pop culture references and dependence and celebration of Cantonese that would come to give Hong Kong cinema its' unique identity during the 1980's.
Coming off the heels of the dark period kung fu movies directed by people like Chang Cheh, the fast and breezy Aces Go Places yielded a huge hit in Asia (it made back three times its' budget in Hong Kong alone), though it never hit it big overseas, as the popularity of martial arts films was on a temporary downturn, and most western distributors wrongly equated any Asian film with kung fu. It's quite a shame, really, since this is one of the better films to come out of Hong Kong during this period. It offers a nice mix of action and comedy, cemented by the chemistry of the three leads. If you've never seen a Hong Kong comedy before, Aces Go Places is an excellent place to start. It strikes a nice balance between Jackie Chan and Steven Chow's style, at once being able to translate universally but also being something quite unique to Hong Kong.
A review of the VCD for this movie can be found here
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