Royal Tramp I

This is an interesting film from Stephen Chow though I am not really sure how to describe it. It is a fun film, but not really a funny film. There are few big laughs anywhere and yet it was consistently enjoyable and visually delightful. Chow is attempting to parody the kung-fu flying films that were so popular at the time – Swordsman II, Dragon Inn etc. – but he makes such an effort to have everything so authentic that I think he got immersed in the visually spectacular scenes and sort of forgot about the humor. Not to say there isn’t any – there is, but not nearly so much as most of his other comedies.
Tsui Kam-Kong and Chow with Sandra Ng
The story takes place at the beginning of the Manchu Dynasty and Chow is literally a teller of tall tales in a brothel (he relates his stories from the top of many chairs stacked on one another). His life soon turns into an Imperial version of “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying”.  Let’s see if I can get this straight.

While he is in the brothel, the Manchu troops come looking for a Ming rebel, Damian Lau, and Chow helps him escape and thus becomes a member of their secret Heaven and Earth society. He “volunteers” for an assignment to infiltrate the Forbidden City and steal a book that will direct them to a lost Ming treasure. Chow stands on what he thinks is the application line for household servants, but is in fact the line for new eunuchs. He is saved right before his loss of manhood by the head eunuch, Ng Man-Tat, who needs him for a secret mission – to spy on the Dowager Empress, Cheung Man.

Chow and Ng Man-Tat
Chow soon bumps into Chingmy Yau, the Emperor’s sister, who he thinks is a eunuch – as Chingmy thinks he is – but they soon find out quite differently much to their delight. Through various accidents as much as anything, Chow is soon being hailed as having great bravery (of which he has little) and great kung-fu (of which he has none) and soon finds himself a senior advisor to the Emperor and begins to forget about his initial assignment. Wouldn’t you if you had Chingmy throwing herself at you?
Throughout all of this there are some wonderful kung-fu fighting and flying scenes from Tsui Kam-Kong as the evil general, Ng Man-Tat with his deadly kung-fu stance and Cheung Man who is actually a member of the secret Dragon sect.  On top of this are the two Ming female twins who are sent to both protect and keep an eye on Chow.
Ming Twins and Damian Lau with Chow
It is all quite fun and very sumptuous – lovely sets and costumes – but again not really all that humorous. Wong Jing directs this film in his usual fast moving manner with many lovely actresses along the way.
Cheung Man