Lovely Lily (Christy Chung) is the darling of her local sports centre, but wants nothing to do with bullying martial arts instructor, Blackbear (Joe Cheng Cho). To deflect his amorous advances she fakes a kiss with downtrodden delivery boy, Ho Kam An (Stephen Chow Sing-Chi), who falls deeply in love and resolves to win her heart by becoming a martial arts hero. After learning some bogus kung fu moves from swindler “Devil’s Killer” Tat (Ng Man Tat), Ho anonymously intervenes when Lily is threatened and miraculously saves the day. Unfortunately, new karate instructor Tuen Shui Lau (Lam Kwok-Bun) takes credit for his heroism, wins Lily’s love and announces their engagement shortly thereafter. Enraged, Ho challenges the near-superhuman Tuen to a televised duel he cannot possibly win.
In many ways this was a breakthrough hit for Hong Kong comedian Stephen Chow Sing-Chi. Here the former children’s TV presenter shed the sassy, street-wise characterization from his earlier Fight Back To School series, to adopt a more lovable, downtrodden persona recalling Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Defiantly lowbrow, with very Cantonese humour, this remains an enjoyable slice of slapstick buffoonery with likeable characters and some surprisingly heart-tugging moments. Chow turns poor, put-upon Ho into someone whom we can all root for, often resembling a human crash-test dummy as he’s bullied and battered by everyone around him.
His hilarious nude intro spoofs Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), as Ho proves such a nice (but dim) guy he selflessly donates all his clothes to homeless family. Chow and collaborator Lee Lik Chi, with whom he made the James Bond spoof From Beijing with Love (1994) and later co-directed his first real masterpiece, The God of Cookery (1996), poke fun at an array of Asian pop cultural staples. Jacky Cheung - Chow’s co-star in action flick Curry and Pepper (1990) - cameos as himself while his teenage fans beat up an old man who supports pop star rival Leon Lai. Ho dons two hardboiled eggs and a dead fish to disguise himself as Ultraman (1967). Tat spoofs old martial arts movies with his ridiculous training scheme that involves punching rice bags, pulling angry faces and falling down a flight of stairs. Lily and Tuen’s engagement turns into a karaoke love duet with smitten journalists dancing through Ho’s press conference.
Regular sidekick Ng Man Tat delivers the moral message: “Everybody has dignity” and the story plays out as an extended metaphor for Ho rediscovering his. Leading lady Christy Chung, reuniting with Chow after their earlier hit Justice, My Foot! (1994), provides fine support as the girl everyone seems to be after. Following Ho’s turn as an avenging superhero in a Garfield mask (the only one he could find), there’s an amusing turn of events when every guy who lusts after Lily turns up in the same disguise trying to take credit for his good deed. It’s a visually inventive film too, thanks to cinematographer David Chung (who directed the Michelle Yeoh actioner Magnificent Warriors (1987)), from the opening silhouette of a karate fighter against the rising sun, to the spot-on Terminator parody, and Lily’s frequent fantastical daydreams.
Zany fight choreography by Ching Siu Tung spoofs a genre he helped create, while the cartoonish exaggerated special effects prefigure those seen in Chow’s later, international hits Shaolin Soccer (2001) and Kung Fu Hustle (2004). The undoubted highlight has to be the memorable fight finale where Ho attempts to psych-out his opponent by ignoring him, while the baffled commentator resorts to reading a wu xia novel aloud instead of play-by-play. Unfortunately, he gets it mixed up with an erotic novel, which results in some very confused radio listeners! It climaxes with a free-for-all with an enraged Tuen beating up judges, referees, TV reporters and spectators until Ho traps him in giant lottery wheel.