As the scourge of the underworld in 1930s Hong Kong, Chief Inspector Robin (Teddy Robin Kwan) may be short in stature, but he's super-tough and lightning quick with his two big guns. When his police squad raid a gambling den the desperate owner passes details of a mob hit about to go down - notorious crime boss Ah Capone (Karl Maka) is out to kill the only man able to identify him, small-time private eye Yoho (George Lam), who happens to be Robin’s childhood friend. Yoho is already up to his neck in trouble. Capone’s mistress Mimi (JoJo Chan) wants to run away with him (even though they’ve never met!) while psychotic killer Popeye (Eric Tsang) is out to settle his hash. Though placed in protective custody by Robin, Yoho is sprung by a sexy femme fatale (Kelly Yiu) on the orders of her husband, crippled millionaire Old Woo (Tang Kei Chan) who seeks help believing his life is in danger. While escaping an attack from Capone’s thugs, Yoho hitches a ride with pretty, thrill-seeking Wai (Marylinn Wong Cho Sze). She turns out to be Woo’s daughter and puts her own crazy spin on the story. Nobody here is what they seem.
Prior to All the Wrong Clues… For the Right Solution, Tsui Hark hadn’t had much luck. His feature debut The Butterfly Murders (1979) was thought too arty (though since ranked among the one-hundred greatest Chinese films of all time), his horror/exploitation follow-up We’re Going To Eat You (1980) was dismissed as too trashy, and his deeply personal, political statement Dangerous Encounters of the First Kind a.k.a. Don’t Play with Fire (1981) was banned. This riotous gangster spoof was his first box office hit. Like a live-action Looney Tunes cartoon, the film is a non-stop parade of ingenious sight gags and frenetic action.
Hark’s barrage of cinematic trickery were literally like nothing else in Hong Kong cinema at the time, but purely in the service of a script that crackles with wit and panache. The plot, which was conceived by the cast themselves, is a crazy amalgam of every film noir and detective story ever seen, with the tone set by not one but three smart, scheming and sexy femme fatales. Hark draws the disparate subplots together with the dexterity of a master, then throws a series of delightfully mind-boggling twists.
The memorable set-pieces include an amazing turbo-charged barroom brawl where mighty mouse Teddy Robin Kwan belts the hell out of goliath Bolo Yeung while frizzy haired comedian John Shum struggles to play piano, plus the most labyrinthine Mexican standoff in cinema history. The film is suffused with a cinefile’s love of old-time Hollywood and screwball comedies, alongside super-stylised slapstick gunplay that makes John Woo look like a slacker. Teddy Robin Kwan’s part-flamenco, part Kraftwerk inspired score is pretty good too.
Hong Kong director, producer, writer and actor and one of the most important figures in modern Hong Kong cinema. Hark majored in film in the US, before returning to his homeland to work in television. Made his directing debut in 1979 with the horror thriller The Butterfly Murders, while 1983's Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain was a spectacular ghost fantasy quite unlike anything in HK cinema at the time. Other key films of this period include Shanghai Blues and the brilliant Peking Opera Blues.
Like many Hong Kong directors, Hark gave Hollywood a go in the late nineties and directed Jean-Claude Van Damme in Double Team and Knock Off. He returned home soon after to continue directing and producing movies like Time and Tide, the epic effects-fest Legend of Zu and romantic adventure Seven Swords.