By the time Michael Hui made this film in 1984,
he was no longer collaborating with his brother Sam (who had gone on to
make the Aces Go Places films for Cinema City) and a bit of the satiric
edge and the playful jesting seems to be missing here. There are certainly
some funny scenes - and the middle third of the film in particular cracked
me up consistently (as does his geriatric and v e r y s l o w
m o v i n g father) - but much of the humor feels repetitious and far too
blunt and broad for a Michael Hui film.
The term "deadpan" humor is often applied to Hui's
comedy - sly, subtle and satirical - but here the term "frying pan" humor
is much more apt as an inordinate amount of the scenes seem to deal with
hitting people or tennis balls with a frying pan. Hui is a chef in a restaurant
and basically his life is hell. The owner is his nutty gun-toting father-in-law
and his wife is a very large and demanding harridan. Both browbeat Hui
constantly and the only refuge he finds is in his daydreams about his calendar
One day this calendar girl (Sally Yeh) walks into
the restaurant and Hui immediately tries to impress her with his culinary
and tennis skills. The tennis match against another suitor is quite funny
as Hui exchanges a racquet for a frying pan and begins to heat up the court.
Sally Yeh looks absolutely lovely here and she is photographed as a dream
girl should be - all in lovely soft light.
She knows Hui is married but she doesn't seem
to be too bothered by that. They arrange to meet in the Philippines - but
Hui is sadly forced to bring along the wife and father-in-law and tries
to conduct a secret affair. Things, of course, don't go as planned as he
rents a small plane for him and Sally to get away and it goes down into
the ocean. As in his daydreams, they are soon running on the beach, but
it isn't exactly frolicking as Sally is soon kidnapped by natives. Though
Hui's depiction of Filipinos is fairly insulting on the whole, this section
that includes parodies of Jaws and Indiana Jones is very amusing. Though
this is not on par with his earlier work – it is missing those one or two
classical routines that his early films always had - this is still a solid
piece that works more often than not.
My rating for this film: 5.5
Distributed by Universe
The transfer is fine - quite clean for
an older HK film.
Star Files - Michael Hui and Sally Yeh.
Subtitles: Chinese and English.
Language: Mandarin or Cantonese
There is a trailer and also previews for Games
Gamblers Play, The Last Message, Private Eyes, The Contract.