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  Ghost Punting More like ghost groping
Year: 1992
Director: Sammo Hung, Corey Yuen Kwai, Eric Tsang, Ricky Lau
Stars: Sammo Hung, Eric Tsang, Nat Chan, Stanley Fung, Richard Ng, Charlie Chin, Woo Wai-Chung, Chin Ho, Ng Ka-Mun, Elaine Lui, Mondi Yau Yuet-Ching, Sit Ma-Lee, Marianne Chan Miu-Ying, Sibelle Hu, Chun Hung, Max Gusinsky
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Action, Martial ArtsBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Thwarted in their efforts to get laid, reformed thieves turned crime-busters the Lucky Stars gang try their luck on holiday at an island resort. Unfortunately for chunky kung fu hero Kidstuff (Sammo Hung), lovable dimwit Roundhead (Eric Tsang), sour-tempered Rhino Hide (Stanley Fung), smooth-talking Herb (Charlie Chin) and aspiring Taoist wizard (?!) Sandy (Richard Ng) it turns out the house next door to their holiday home is haunted. When the gang find a sexy female vampire (Chun Hung) feasting on a male victim they turn to their old ally Chief Inspector Woo (Sibelle Hu). She sends along four beautiful spandex-clad policewomen led by gorgeous no-nonsense detective Leung Lai Di (Elaine Lui). Inevitably the haplessly horny Lucky Stars try all kinds of tricks to get with the girls. But then the male ghost, Nick Chan (Nat Chan) unexpectedly inhabits Lai Di's body and asks for their help taking revenge on the drug-dealing Triad boss responsible for his death.

Ghost Punting is doubly disappointing in that it is both a slapdash Hong Kong horror-comedy and a duff entry in the long-running Lucky Stars series. While not quite as popular overseas, the Lucky Stars films were hugely successful and remain much beloved in Hong Kong. HK movie polymaths Sammo Hung and Eric Tsang concocted the series that began with Hung's Winners and Sinners (1983), My Lucky Stars (1985) and Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1986). Thereafter series superstar Jackie Chan fell out with longtime collaborator Sammo Hung (briefly, as it happily turned out). He sat out the rest of the sequels that continued with Tsang's Lucky Stars Go Places (1986) (a crossover with Tsang's other huge franchise Aces Go Places) and Lucky Stars Triad Society (1989) directed by co-star Stanley Fung with the script co-written by Wong Jing. After Ghost Punting it was several years before actor, music mogul and filmmaker Frankie Chan got the old gang back together one last time for How to Meet the Lucky Stars (1996). As with many sequels the later entries leaned heavily on gimmicks. Which in this instance involved shoehorning a lacklustre ghost comedy angle to help viewers stomach the sight of these middle-aged goofballs trying to pick up women half their age.

Of course Sammo Hung remains the key auteur of kung fu-horror. He not only produced the Mr. Vampire series and starred in cult favourites like The Dead and the Deadly (1983) but directed a slew of classics including the one that started it all: Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980). By 1992 Hung was still a creative force to be reckoned with but Ghost Punting definitely ranks among his lesser efforts. Shot on-the-fly by multiple directors including Hung, Tsang, Corey Yuen Kwai and Mr. Vampire helmer Ricky Lau, it shares an episodic story-structure and schizophrenic tone in common with many superior HK productions. Yet lacks their amiable anything goes spirit. The inane antics of the Lucky Stars troop are an admittedly acquired taste, steeped as they are in Cantonese street culture but the film also lazily recycles familiar old tropes. Such as having Rhino Hide try to use Nick's ghost powers to cheat at mahjong (a subplot Sammo Hung spun out into an entire movie in the previous year's Gambling Ghost (1991)!) Or the climactic girl-on-girl fight where Elaine Lui (a talented and beautiful action girl who despite standout turns in films like Angel (1987) and The Bride with White Hair (1993) never became as big a star as she deserved to be) gets soaking wet which harks back to Sibelle Hu's bout with Mishiko Nishiwaki in the original My Lucky Stars. We also get another instance of HK horror's weird fixation on women's underwear as a defense against the supernatural.

The plot does not really kick in till about the one-hundred minute mark (with a half hour to go!) but fails to involve. Partly because undead drug dealer Nick is such a whiny, unhelpful, unsympathetic character. A bigger problem is that the film is mired in misogyny. Every female character in Ghost Punting is portrayed as either a monster, shrew or duplicitous slut. On top of that are a host of tasteless rape jokes as the boys contrive multiple tricks to have their wicked way with the foxy policewomen. At least all their efforts end with them outwitted and humiliated by the women. Happily Sammo does not partake in any of the gang's unsavoury antics. Indeed he spends a large share of the film off-screen (probably busy directing Moon Warriors (1992)) but does factor into the one mildly amusing subplot wherein almost every woman finds his flustered nice guy demeanor irresistible. Now and then Ghost Punting pulls off the odd memorably queasy (Taiwanese pop hunk Charlie Chin kisses a zombie and spits out worms and rotten teeth!) or inspired moment (reversing a cliché the ghost inhabits Eric Tsang and makes him a worse fighter). The film finally wakes up for a finale that has the entire gang taken out by Triads leaving Sammo to face a dozen gangsters alone. Which he does easily because good movie or bad, Sammo Hung is a freaking badass.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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Sammo Hung  (1952 - )

Hong Kong born actor, producer and director and one of the best known figures in Hong Kong cinema. Hung's large frame belies a formidable martial arts ability, and he's best known for his collaborations with Jackie Chan during the 1980s and more recently for his US TV show Martial Law.

Hung's acting career began at the age of 12 but it was Enter the Dragon that gave him his first high profile role. He starred in a continuous stream of kung fu movies throughout the seventies, and made his directing debut in 1977 with Iron-Fisted Monk. A series of now-classic martial arts comedies followed, all directed by and starring Sammo - Warriors Two, Encounters of the Spooky Kind, Prodigal Son, My Lucky Stars, Pedicab Driver. But his best loved pictures are those in which he appeared alongside Jackie Chan, including Project A, Wheels on Meals, Dragons Forever and My Lucky Stars.

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