Fantasy Mission Force

Reviewed by YTSL

Before I plunge into a thoroughly opinionated review of the Chu Yen Ping directorial effort that really would be much more fittingly entitled "Nightmare Mission Farce", I would urge the reader to bear in mind the following contextualizing details.  One is that I am a major admirer of Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia.  Another is that I am a person who is generally appreciative of the comedic as well as action elements of Jackie Chan's works.  Thirdly, I actually enjoyed "The Eagle Shooting Heroes", a movie about which the hardly high brow Thomas Weisser actually wrote was "one mindless sight gag after another, with absolutely no regard for continuity.  In the wrong hands, this film could single-handedly destroy the current rage for Asian cinema".  Also, it is my definite opinion that the rather silly "Holy Weapon" is not, contrary to the opinion of LEH (see Joseph Fierro's Hong Kong Cinema site), "the worst Hong Kong movie ever".  Additionally, it should be realized that what good points I allow that this 1984 work has comes from my knowingly approaching and treating it as a potentially good bad movie (as opposed to evaluating it as I regularly would most other films).

Yet I could not -- still cannot -- really comprehend the absolute AWFULNESS as well as stupidity and depravity of FANTASY MISSION FORCE. Okay.  I will grant that contrary to many reports, Chu Yen Ping did NOT make a World War II movie.  Rather, he set events in a ridiculous alternate universe in which:  Japanese Nazis appear to have struck -- and maybe even occupied -- the northern part of Canada and the heart of Western Europe that is Luxembourg; Abraham Lincoln is one of the generals that they have captured; and James Bond (in his Roger Moore manifestation), Rocky Balboa and Black Fox (an eye-patch wearing character played by Brigitte Lin in "Amazon Commandos", an earlier Chu Yen Ping work) are considered as possibilities to head a rescue team before the powers that be settle on a  mercenary (portrayed by Jimmy Wang Yu) and a group that he goes off and assembles (which ends up including a non eye-patch wearing bazooka-wielder named Lily played by a surely bewigged Brigitte Lin).

Jackie Chan fans ought to take note that although he is involved in what passes for the film's climactic battle, his character is NOT a member of the so-called FANTASY MISSION FORCE.  Rather, he and his companion (played by Chang Ling) weave in and out of the movie in a way that is as inexplicable and incidental -- beyond adding further inanity and what passes for amusing moments to the entire production -- as the rescue team's:  Encountering a bunch of hostile Amazons who put on what look like brown paper bags on top of their heads when they ride out to attack people and are led by a dinner-jacketed male artist (who comes in the form of Adam Cheng); spending some time in a haunted house with such as Ming Dynasty-costumed, blue-faced, mahjong-playing, otherwise hopping, vampires and a ghostly seductress; and themselves being composed of such as two kilted men, someone who wears a Prussian helmet and metal armor and consequently made me think of the Wizard of Oz's Tinman, and another who looks like an Elvis impersonator (but that could just be his then contemporary clothing style!).
For those who have sneaked a look at my rating of this film and found that it is not a zero, here's the pathetic story of how FANTASY MISSION FORCE actually earned some points.  Sad but true...this Brigittephile awarded it one point for her being in it.  And while I did not appreciate watching her -- and I really do think it was Ms. Lin rather than a stunt double -- being dragged in the dirt by horses in one scene, I must admit to having found some humor in watching a chipper her in a ludicrous -- and, if I were to be Politically Correct, appalling -- drinking contest with a man which involved their...removing pieces of clothing off a tied-up woman after each drink by doing such as shooting and throwing knives to loosen or entirely do away with said female's garments!  Then there are two half points which come from:  Watching Jackie Chan competing with someone else to look more manly by way of puffing big cigars and pipes; and the particularly demented scenes in the bath and other rooms of a spook-infested building.  Other than that...
It truly is the case that I still can't quite believe that I actually watched this movie in its entirety without fast-forwarding through any of it.  Until I saw FANTASY MISSION FORCE, I also would not have realized that something so consciously and consistently stupid can actually be(come) so generally unfunny and largely boring.  Perhaps the bottom line with regards to this Taiwanese lunacy is that one should subject oneself to viewing it as part of a confirmation ceremony of one's being a genuine Hong Kong movie fan (and even then, one ought not to undergo this experience alone!).  Otherwise, my strong recommendation is that people stay far away from it...and urge that its very existence be concealed from friends (and relatives) who you are trying to convince re the -- not just absolute nor technological but also creative, imaginative, complex and layered -- quality of Hong Kong films.
My (very generous) rating for this film:  2.