Curry and Pepper
Reviewed by YTSL
There are quite a few fans who lament that Hong
Kong movies are not what they used to be. If I were to base my opinion
on this matter on this 1990 film, some of whose cast but especially crew
would go on to become the Jade Theatre's leading lights later in the decade,
I would have to thank the stars that this is the case.
Amazingly, among the individuals in question
-- whose efforts did not come to much here -- are: Two founders of
the United Filmmakers Organization (UFO); the screenwriter of some of that
company's best offerings (E.g., my favorite "He's a Woman, She's a Man"
and its often under-rated "Who's the Woman, Who's the Man" follow-up);
a cinematographer who has gained particular fame and fortune as the director
as well as cameraman of the trend-creating "Young and Dangerous" series
of Triad movies; not to mention the true box office king -- more so than
Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-Fat -- of the oft labeled Eastern Hollywood.
Truly, if I had not beheld this work, I would not have believed Peter Chan
and co. to be capable of such uninspired -- even while still generally
technically competent -- effort.
CURRY AND PEPPER has comic, dramatic, romantic
and action components which may have been alright -- very good even --
on their own but whose effectiveness was frequently undone by their being
combined with what they were. A similar thing could be said of its
two stars (Jacky Cheung plays a detective inspector named Curry; Stephen
Chow acts as his partner and long-time friend, Pepper): Both of whom
would have benefited from playing off a straight man but don't get much
opportunity to do so in this James Yuen scripted work which no one seems
to be all that sure about with regards to what it ought to be (not least
its director, Blacky Ko, whose on screen presence -- as a menacing gunman
whose wrath gets incurred by our heroes (and vice versa) -- was the one
which ran most counter in mood to all of the featured others).
Although the versatile Eric Tsang is also in this
Andrew Lau lensed picture (as a small-time crook who is a friend as well
as informer for the two not very orthodox plain-clothes policemen), his
CURRY AND PEPPER role seems generally intended to make proceedings even
more farcical (rather than grounded -- but still far from devoid of humor
-- in the way that those he essayed did to great effect in works like "Comrades,
Almost a Love Story", "Task Force" and even "Fly Me to Polaris").
Ditto with regards to John Sham's screechy cameo appearance as a bad-tempered
cook whose wonton noodle dishes lack wontons (yet probably have more flavor
than Ann Bridgewater's attractive looking but personality devoid TV reporter
character as well as the love -- or should I say lust? -- interest that
she is asked to represent).
Judging from the often infantile behavior of many
of the film's characters, much of this work is played for laughs.
But what then are we to make of CURRY AND PEPPER's violent -- as well as
quite spectacular -- action segments? To put it mildly: A high
body count is not what one would expect of a Peter Chan production.
Even more shocking was its containing a bitterly anti-elitist streak along
with an unfortunate tendency to have the assorted villains be of non Hong
Kong extraction. This soccer fan additionally found it annoying that
it could not be realized that most of the world -- and surely former professional
player, Eric Tsang -- knows that "the beautiful game"'s World Cup Finals
DON'T take place around Christmas. Ultimately though, the biggest
crime committed by the not untalented folks involved with this disappointing
movie may well be their having churned out something so mediocre that (even)
I can't really be bothered to get all that indignant or excited about any
aspect of it.
My rating for the film: 4.5
Reviewed by Brian
I actually found much of this film to be easy
going and pleasant viewing. It can't really be considered a Stephen Chow
vehicle as this was made before he hit it big and he has to share the screen
equally with Jacky Cheung. The first half of the film is fairly silly and
innocuous (though very far from Stephen Chow hilarious), but they play
off each other to good effect. The film hits a bit of a slow drag when
it gets very dopey about Jackie's relationship with Ann Bridgewater (looking
very stunning here and from what I witnessed a hell of a good kisser!)
and how this hurts his friendship with Stephen. But it comes back with
a huge bang as the two of them take on a shipload of bad guys and the action
displays elements of John Woo and a few gunplay moments that looked very
Hard Boiled - except Hard Boiled was two years away.
My rating for this film: 6.0
Distributed by Universe
The transfer is so so - clean picture but the
colors are muted and blanched out at times.
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
The subtitles with 4 choices: Chinese
(Traditional), English, Chinese (Simplified), Bahasa Malaysia
It has it's own trailer plus previews for Fun
and Fury, The Last Blood, and Alan and Eric: Between Hello and Goodbye.
There is cast infomation for Stephen Chow,
The subs are easy to read.