Aces Go Places IV

About three-quarters of the way through this film, I suddenly thought to myself – “where did the comedy go?” All of a sudden I realized that this fourth installment had turned into a fairly tense and violent action film and that the comedy was merely an echo of a whisper of long ago. Of course, when you take into account that the director is Ringo Lam this begins to make some sense.
Sally Yeh, Sam Hui, Roy Chiao and Sylvia Chang
Lam has a subversive streak in him and likes to turn films a bit upside down from the audiences expectations. This was only his fourth film, but in his earlier Esprit D’Amour he converts the basic ghost/love story into a harrowing tragic piece and in Cupid Love he begins with a screwball comedy that slowly morphs into a surprisingly uncomfortable film.

This one begins in typical Aces fashion with an action set piece featuring Sam Hui, then contains a few amusing moments – but after a while Lam drops all pretenses of making a comedy and turns it into a straight dramatic action film – full of chases and shoot outs. At the same time though, Lam really focuses again on the friendship between the three main characters (and now Baldy Junior as well!), but in a much more intense manner than in the previous films. There are a few scenes that are quite gripping and would have felt very out of place in the earlier films – one of Sylvia Chang fighting to get her son away from two hoodlums becomes an angst filled nightmare of motherly love. The other is when it appears that Baldy (Karl Maka) has been killed and Sylvia goes into catatonic shock and Sam goes crazy with a need to kill and gain revenge. It’s actually powerful stuff and having fine actors like Sam and Sylvia allow Lam to do this. This film may not appeal to many Aces Go Places fans – but I quite liked it.

In New Zealand, a scientist (Roy Chiao) and his daughter (Sally Yeh) are performing an experiment on Sam Hui that will give a man superpowers. But before the experiment can get very far, a group of Nazis break into the installation and kill Chiao. Before he dies though he makes Sam promise to take care of Sally. So the two of them escape with the essential component in their possession and head back to HK (after a fabulous boat/helicopter chase) with the bad guys in close pursuit.

Sam of course brings in his friends Karl and Sylvia to help out and after an ice hockey game (is there anything these two can't do?) and another chase (in which Maka excells), the film gets serious. Two giant hoodlums show up at Maka’s apartment – try and grab Junior – Sylvia intervenes and gets brutally beaten up – the kid escapes to the roof top – and falls off. This is another one of those – how did they do that scene? Junior who can’t be more than four years old has a few amazing moments of hanging on and then falling down and getting snagged on something and then falling down some more. Even though you know what you are seeing can’t be real, you still have to hold your breath.

Sylvia is kidnapped and taken back to New Zealand and the three boys and Sally are soon on their way as well. This leads to a terrific car chase (good practice for Lam’s later films!) and then finally their entry into the lair of the Nazis. Soon all hell breaks out and as many guys are mowed down as in your typical Heroic Bloodshed film.
It’s an interesting film and since Maka wrote the script and acts in it, he must have concurred with the darker territory that Lam takes it into. It certainly was a good stepping stone for Lam who was to follow this film in the following year with his classic film - City on Fire.
There are some nice cameos from some great older stars – Walter Cho as usual shows up and  Shek Kin and Kwan Tak-hing play the opposing ice hockey coaches!
 

My rating for this film: 7.0



DVD Information:

Distributor - Universe

The transfers for all the films in this series are universally excellent. Crisp image and great color. 

Letterbox - almost extremely so!

Trailer + previews of: Aces Go Places I

8 Chapters

Subs - English, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Bahasa Malaysian and Indonesian

Star files - Sam Hui, Karl Maka, Sylvia Chang and Ringo Lam.

Easy to read subs on black border beneath picture.