International jewel thief King Kong (Samuel Hui) has wound up in Paris, France, to carry out his latest mission, which appears to be checking out young ladies' bottoms through his telescope, but little does he know someone is returning the favour, staring at him through a lens some distance away. She is Agent 701 (Naomi Otsubo) and is aiming a rocket launcher at him which he notices just in time and dives out of the way, leaving the missile to take the head off a statue underneath the Eiffel Tower. Before he knows what is happening, Kong is travelling up the landmark and tussling with a giant hitman (Richard Kiel) and another who is throwing his steel-rimmed bowler hat at him...
Is this sounding familiar? Well, at least this entry in the Mad Mission/Aces Go Places series beat A View to a Kill to the punch by heading to Paris first, yet otherwise what had been a goodnatured spoof of the James Bond movies was if anything more slavishly recreating the stream of thrills most associated with the franchise than ever. There was a difference, naturally, while Bond had its serious side, in this case it was all about the goofy laughs, which produced differing reactions in the fans: either this was the best effort the Mad Mission chaps ever fashioned, or it was the worst, it all depended on your tolerance for the well nigh constant barrage of gags. Another minus point for some may have been the special effects were even more obvious this time.
So it was all very well having Kong and cop Albert Au (Karl Maka was back too) zoom about Hong Kong on a rocket of some description, but while they had spared no expense in getting the location shots, it was plain for all to see what we were watching was an embarrassingly poor-looking effect that you needed to suspend disbelief for that bit too far. Obviously actually having the actors fly a rocket-powered vehicle in those places would have been beyond the means of even Bond, but this endeavour to better the franchise it imitated was not doing Mad Mission any favours, and the tendency was to render it a second rate facsimile. That did not stop it being a major hit, and director Tsui Hark graduated from extended cameos in the first two to taking the helm for this third.
He was a past master at keeping his movies brisk and breezy, and so it was here, though if anything this was as light and frothy as it was ever going to get, that in spite of the Herculean degrees of strenuous effort to keep this buoyant were rather blatant, with Maka in particular just about doing himself a mischief to secure the laughs and giggles. By this time Albert was married to the other series regular, Superintendent Nancy Ho (Sylvia Chang), who at least got a bit more to do in this instalment, which has resulted in a baby who is as bald as Albert (very much his father's son, apparently) and gets to join in with the action in the grand finale. But this union makes his eagerness to meet romantically with Agent 701 as part of Kong's subterfuge rather offputting.
Why the subterfuge? That was down to the scheme our hero is embroiled with, for in the Seine was a large mechanical shark, and inside that is James Bond! No, not really, but with Richard Kiel in the cast and an Oddjob lookalike (Thunder Sugiyama) that's what we're supposed to think: he's not a Roger Moore double but a Sean Connery one (Jean Mersant), perhaps to recognise Never Say Never Again's release in the previous few months, as the Bond stand-in here was in fact the villain, a total imposter who numbers among his henchmen a Queen Elizabeth II looky-likey as well (the remarkably-named Huguette Funfrock, the poor man's Jeanette Charles). This bunch want Kong to, what else, steal jewels, ostensibly because they are the pilfered Crown Jewels, and he is duped into going along, in spite of them trying to kill him at the beginning of the film. Good sense this did not make, but a walking Mission: Impossible reference in Peter Graves and refugees from Mad Max 2 added to the hotchpotch of anything goes nonsense, so you'd know if this was for you. Music by Lynsey de Paul.
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.