Trying to clear my head of CJ7, I grabbed the first Stephen Chow movie I could find at the store, and hit paydirt. Not as artistically ambitious as most of the movies I like, but as entertainment it is supreme, better than Michael Bay’s filmography to date and probably a thousandth as expensive. Plus these are only two of the six films Wong is credited with directing in 1992 alone. Take that, Mr. Bay.
I’d check the IMDB every ten minutes during part one trying to keep characters straight and to locate superstar Brigitte Lin… finally figured out that she shows up at the very end (the final shot!) of pt. 1 to set up her starring role in pt. 2. But then she’s not even that big a deal in 2 – it’s another jumble of too many characters (sometimes crossdressing to make it even more confusing for me). Just a ton of penis jokes, more than I think I’ve ever heard in one place before. Supposedly very clever wordplay in the dialogue, but I don’t guess that translated very well in the subs. I found it funny anyway. Not the greatest most showoffy action scenes, but they’re alright. Just so much going on, impossible to get bored while watching this. Trying to lay out all the plots and alliances here would take longer than re-watching the movies, but in short…
Stephen Chow is Wei Shu Bo, works at a brothel or someplace, rescues the lead dude (Chan) of an anti-government organization, joins their group and is sent to the emperor’s palace to do some shit, but befriends the emp (Ning) and his sister (Princess Kim). In each movie he tries to protect them from a traitorous super-powerful white-haired dude, first Obai then Fung (who works for King Ng of Ping-Si whose son Prince Ng is to marry Kim, who is in love with Stephen Chow, who is also having sex with Brigitte Lin and the Swan twins, but I get ahead of myself). Actually Chow is powerless but lucky throughout part one (the empress or queen, the one who later transforms into Brigitte Lin, kills Obai but Chow takes credit), working as apprentice to eunuch Hai, then when Chow has sex with Lin in pt. 2 he gets most of her powers. Chow has a friend Dor Long who shows up a lot, and there’s a girl named Ah Or or maybe Sister Bond who I never figured out who she was and nobody else seems to know either. Oh and Lin’s teacher the one-armed nun is a big deal in the first half of pt. 2.
Stephen Chow had been in 30 movies by now so I assume he was pretty well known. He started his writer/director career a couple years after this.
Lin starred in Police Story, Zu Warriors and Peking Opera Blues, Swordsman II & III, New Dragon Gate Inn, Bride With White Hair, then she pretty much stopped acting after doing two Wong Kar-Wai films and getting married in ’94.
I didn’t get screenshots of the first movie, but the queen was Sharla Cheung (costarred with Stephen Chow in a bunch of things), the eunuch was Stephen Chow fave Man Tat Ng (also in Happy Together), and Obai (hilariously credited as O’Brien on IMDB) was Elvis Tsui of the Sex & Zen movies and a hundred others.
The emperor’s sister, Chingmy Yau (below), costarred with Jet Li in some other Jing Wong films in the 90’s as well as the HK version of Street Fighter. The emperor, Siu-Lun Wan, hasn’t been in much else. The mysterious Sister Bond, Sandra Ng Kwan Yue, has been in a hundred movies with titles I recognized from the other filmographies I looked at.
King Ng is Paul Chun (appeared with Chow Yun Fat and Jackie Chan movies back in the 70’s), his son the prince (who gets castrated by the princess if I haven’t mentioned) is Ken Tong (of a bunch of movies with knockoff titles of more famous movies, incl. a semi-sequel to Royal Tramp starring Tony Leung).
Lan Law, the one-handed nun, has been acting since the 50’s, appeared in Wayne Wang’s Eat a Bowl of Tea.
The puppetmaster Fung, Shi-Kwan Yen, was in a lot of stuff in the 70’s, some high-profile films in the 90’s, and hasn’t done much since Iron Monkey in ’93.
Oh wait, forgot to mention the best part. At the end of part one, it freeze-frames on Brigitte Lin, and the credits come up, declaring “PEPSI / SEVEN-UP”. A soda advertisement in the credits!