From Beijing With Love
AKA: From China With Love
Directors: Stephen Chow, Lee Lik-Chi
Stars: Stephen Chow, Anita Yuen, Law Kar-Ying, Pauline Chan, Joe Cheng Cho, Yu Rong-Guang, Lee Lik-Chi
Stephen Chow plays a guy who wants to be a secret agent like his dad, but couldn't pass the qualification tests and such now earns his living as a butcher. However, when China's best agent (Yu Rong-Guang) is killed by a mysterious man with a golden gun during an attempt to obtain a valubale fossil, the commander (Joe Cheng Cho) decides to bring in Stephen. It soon becomes clear that Cheng has other motives and wants to set up Stephen as a patsy, and then have him killed by double agent Anita Yuen. Can Stephen unravel the mystery, save the world and get the girl all in the space of ninety minutes?
I've always been a huge fan of James Bond movies and, as per the more films I watch of his, I am also becoming a huge fan of Stephen Chow as well. So when a movie is offered up that combines them both, I was pretty hyped to check it out. The results aren't as outstanding as I hoped -- but I had huge expectations for this film -- but is still a satisfying cinematic experience nonetheless.
From Beijing With Love starts out as a pretty dead-on parody of the Bond movies, with a good pre-credits action sequence and then a hilarious take on the famous Bond title sequences. We then follow this with a great take on the mandatory "gadget" scene, with Law Kar-Ying (whose Cantonese name of Tat Man Sai is the same one given for Leonardo DaVinci... but in true Stephen Chow fashion "Man Sai" is also slang for "smelly pussy") playing a decidedly stupider version of the famous Q. Stephen's gadgets in this movie are not watches equipped with lasers or cars that can turn into submarines, rather they are things like a solar-powered flashlight and a briefcase that turns into a chair so that you can take a rest whilst stalking your target (a direct parody of the gimmick-laden suitcase in From Russia With Love).
However, after this, it turns into much more of a typical Stephen Chow "moy len tau" (nonsense comedy), which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I was hoping for a bit more Bond-style action (i.e., big-ass action sequences). Most of the running time is dominated by Chow's usual Cantonese puns, physical comedy and overt dramatics (through his scenes with love interest Anita Yuen). Not that I'm complaining that much -- there are several memorable bits in the movie, such as one after Stephen gets shot and he uses a porno movie for an anesthetic while Anita operates and Pauline Chan (a former Cat 3 softcore star who plays one of the mandatory hoods with a gimmick) operating a flamethrower bra. The action sequences, while not huge, are still pretty exciting, and quite bloody in parts. Stephen's favorite weapon (from his days as a butcher) is a giant cleaver, which he puts to use in a few pretty gory bits, including one where he chops a guy's fingers off before slashing his throat -- the usual Bond PG-13 action this ain't.
It's just that the movie as a whole is not as solid as some of Chow's other works. But From Beijing With Love is still worth a look if you are into Stephen Chow's movies, even if you are not a big fan of spy capers.
(Thanks to Sebastian Tse from the Mobius forum for some of the info.)
A review of the DVD for this movie can be found here
Back to Movie Review index