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  My Lucky Stars The Red-Handed Gang
Year: 1985
Director: Sammo Hung
Stars: Sammo Hung, Charlie Chin, Fung Shui-Fan, Richard Ng, Eric Tsang, Sibelle Hu, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Cho Tat-wah, Paul Chang, Lam Ching-Ying, Lui Chia Yung, Dick Wei, Michiko Nishiwaki, James Tien, Ha Ping, Law Ho Kai, Bolo Yeung, Lau Chic
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, Martial ArtsBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Muscles (Jackie Chan) and Ricky (Yuen Biao) are a pair of undercover cops in Tokyo who have been tracking a crooked lawman from their base in Hong Kong, and as they hang around the subway system they finally catch sight of their quarry. Unfortunately for them, they are recognised almost immediately and a chase ensues through the city streets with Muscles and Ricky impossible for the evildoers to shake off - that is until they seek refuge in a funfair and the cops lose them. Muscles takes drastic action and climbs the ferris wheel to get a panoramic view of the complex, and notices them once again. Soon they are battling in hand to hand combat, but this time the bad guys gain the upper hand...

The team of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao had been fast friends since childhood when they trained together, so it was only natural that they should make movies together as well, with Asian audiences loving every time they reunited on screen. My Lucky Stars, a loose sequel to Winners and Sinners, was one of those occasions, and it rewarded them with a big success, yet while there was an assembly of characters brought together to fight crime here, it was not the trio that you might have expected on learning who the biggest names in it were. Really Chan and Biao only appeared at the beginning and the end, with the latter hardly in this at all unless you counted his stuntwork.

The team the plot actually concentrated on were sort of an Asian version of The A-Team, with the mastermind, the handsome devil, the crazy one and the tough guy, except these traits were spread out across a number of characters; this being the brainchild of director and star Sammo Hung, he was according to him inspired by catching a Japanese crimefighting show on television and not the American hit, though there were a plethora of "I love it when a plan comes together" type shows littering the small screens of the world in the eighties, so a big screen variation only seemed sensible. Except the film action stars often preferred to work alone, even if they were in a buddy movie, so this had the right idea in injecting a fresh boost to the genre.

In effect this was a comedy, at least in its lengthy middle section, with Sammo's character Kidstuff released from prison on one condition, that he assists the police in taking down the crooked copper and his gang of Japanese henchmen (and henchwomen). He cannot work alone, so in a move echoing his real life friendships he gathers together a group of his old schoolfriends to help out, each with a quirk to distinguish them and with any luck provide a generous dollop of hearty laughter for the audience. Although the jokes were broad with the inevitable slapstick, those laughs really did arise from such goofiness as one of the gang trying telekinesis to drive their van (guess how that turns out), for example. When a woman is added to their number, it gets realy ridiculous.

So keen are Kidstuff's gang to get close to their police chaperone Miss Woo (Sibelle Hu) that they pretend to be ninjas (where did they get the costumes?!) bursting into her rooms they are sharing and tying each of them up with her in a spot of comedy bondage. Not above the odd off-colour gag like that, My Lucky Stars was on more tasteful ground when it came to the action, though there was not enough for some of the diehard fans of martial arts, mostly bunched up around the end of the movie when the serious this time Chan reappeared as Muscles wishes Kidstuff to get Ricky out of the clutches of the baddies. There was a sequence in a funhouse which saw him grappling with various costumed thugs, and in fact sported an anime costume for part of that, though he soon divests himself of it to get on with the elaborate violence. Maybe the best known sequence actually featured Hu and Japanese bodybuilder Michiko Nishiwaki, a corridor skirmish that generously saw Hung give way to his co-stars once again, but if you could appreciate the dog's dinner style, this was fair enough.

[Eureka release Winners and Sinners, My Lucky Stars and Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars in a 3-disc Blu-ray set with these special features:

O-Card Slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling (First print run of 2000 copies will feature a Limited-Edition unique variant) | All three films presented in 1080p on Blu-ray from brand new restorations | Winners and Sinners - new 4K restoration! | My Lucky Stars - new 2K restoration! | Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars - new 4K restoration, plus the alternate extended Taiwanese version also fully restored in 4K! | Cantonese audio tracks (original mono presentations) | Optional English dubbed audio tracks for all films | Newly translated English subtitles | Brand new feature length audio commentaries on all three films by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) | Winners and Sinners - Archival interview with director and star Sammo Hung (6 mins) | Winners and Sinners - Archival interview with director and star Sammo Hung (13 mins) | Winners and Sinners - Sammo Hung retrospective featuring interviews with friends of the legendary director, actor, and action choreographer (20 mins) | My Lucky Stars - Archival interview with Michiko Nishiwaki (20 mins) | My Lucky Stars - Archival interview with Sammo Hung (18 mins) | Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars - Archival interview with Richard Norton (33 mins) | Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars - Archival interview with Richard Ng (21 mins) | Behind-the-scenes featurettes on all three films originally produced for their Japanese releases | Outtakes, NG ("No Good!") shots for all three films | Trailers for all three films | Limited-Edition Collector's Booklet featuring new writing by James Oliver (First Print Run of 2000 Copies Only).]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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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.

 
Review Comments (2)
Posted by:
Andrew Pragasam
Date:
26 May 2014
  In story terms the Lucky Stars films are indeed messy but exuberant cartoon fun nonetheless. Anyway, Jackie and Sammo proved they could fuse slapstick and kung fu with better stories with films like Dragons Forever, Heart of the Dragon and, my personal favorite, Wheels on Meals.

After MLS came Twinkle Twinkle Stars (not to be confused with the similarly titled Shaw Brothers sci-fi sex farce) which was even more laden with stars including many blink-and-you'll miss 'em cameos. Lucky Stars Go Places followed in 1986 which was a crossover with another HK hit franchise, Aces Go Places. Jackie and Yuen sat that one out but we got Aces regulars Karl Maka, Sylvia Chang and Eric Tsang (who also directed) along with Andy Lau. Ten years passed before the franchise came back again with Frankie Chan's How to Meet the Lucky Stars which has Sammo, Eric and a bunch of hot teen idols. It is widely considered a disappointment. Wong Jing has been threatening to reboot the franchise for years.
       
Posted by:
Graeme Clark
Date:
26 May 2014
  The fighting is certainly better, more exciting anyway, in Wheels on Meals, but as for the humour I think these two are about equal.
       


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