From Beijing With Love (1994) March 2, 2008Posted by Cal in : Comedy, 1990s films , trackback
Director: Lee Lik-Chi; Stephen Chow Sing-Chi Cast: Stephen Chow Sing-Chi; Anita Yuen; Law Kar-Ying Territory: Hong Kong Production Company: Win’s Movie Production
A dinosaur’s skull is stolen and retired spy Ling Ling Chat (Stephen Chow), now a pork vendor, is brought in to investigate. He is aided by Li Heung Kam (Anita Yuen) in finding the “Man with the Golden Gun”, the villain behind the theft. But Li has orders of her own, and must ensure that Chat fails in his mission…
From Beijing With Love starts off as a straight parody of the James Bond movies, complete with a Maurice Binder-esque opening sequence and title music that’s so close to the original that it’s quite surprising that EON Productions never sued. Furthermore, Chow’s character is called Ling Ling Chat (which literally translates as “Zero Zero Seven”) and includes a gadget-introduction sequence that at times looks like the real thing.
The gags range from fairly awful (Law Kar-Ying, as an insane “Q” character, demonstrates a solar-powered torch) to the hilarious (I loved Chow’s cockroach infested motel room and his “landlady”), but come thick and fast for most of the film. However, there are some extremely jarring changes of tone from the comic to the serious that From Beijing With Love is sometimes quite uncomfortable viewing. One scene in particular, where a father is repeatedly shot in front of his young son in a shopping mall, is tough to stomach in a film which is supposedly a screwball comedy. The juxtaposition of comic and violent scenes are probably enough to turn off a lot of potential viewers off this film and in this way, it can be seen to be not untypical of Hong Kong movies as a whole.
Nevertheless, consistency aside, there are just about enough funny moments in From Beijing With Love to make it memorable for the right reasons. There are some great jokes and funny scenes in here, and the humour is typical of Chow’s work from the period. One scene is memorable: Chow is wounded in a gunfight and is dragged back to his flat where Yuen is forced to pull the bullet out of his leg. To kill the pain, Chow puts a videotape of a porno film on while Yuen chips away with a screwdriver and hammer. It’s sick, disturbing and gory, but it’s also pretty funny. The use of the word “darkie” in the scene referring to one of the porn actresses raises an eyebrow, but this is just down to bad subtitling (which have been ported directly from the old VHS version); Chow actually just says “black person”.
At around 84 minutes in length, From Beijing With Love is the kind of movie that’s quick and undemanding. It’s a definite no-brainer with less plot than usual for a Chow vehicle from the mid-nineties, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you can stomach the violence and the sudden changes in tone, it’s quite harmless and should elicit a few belly laughs.