Carry On Pickpocket
Year of release: 1982
Genre: martial arts/comedy
Director: Sammo Hung
Action directors: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Lam Ching-Ying, Billy Chan
Producers: Frankie Chan, Guy Lai
Writer: Barry Wong
Cinematography: Ricky Lau
Editing: Peter Cheung, Keung Chuen-Tak
Music: Frankie Chan, Philip Chan
Stars: Sammo Hung, Frankie Chan, Deannie Yip, Richard Ng, Nat Chan, Pang Sau-Ha, Peter Chan, Dick Wei, Lau Hak-Suen
Rated IIB for language and violence
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Though he's never quite attained the star status of his Peking Opera classmate Jackie Chan, by the early 1980's, Sammo Hung had established himself as one of Hong Kong's most dependable directors in the martial arts genre. Hung's 1982 entry Carry on Pickpocket is another example of this. While it's nothing earth-shattering or revolutionary, at its' roots, this is still a solid action/comedy film that should please most fans of his work.
In addition to directing the film, Sammo also has a starring role as the oddly-named Rice Pot, who is part of a pickpocketing team that also includes Chimney (Frankie Chan), Ann (Pang Sau-Ha), and their teacher, Kim (Lau Hak-Suen). The team manages to stay in the black and one step ahead of the cops (most notably a bumbling sergeant played by Richard Ng) until Rice Pot's relationship with another police officer, Ling (Deannie Yip), puts them smack dab in the middle of a dangerous diamond heist.
Sammo Hung fans expecting wall-to-wall kung fu action may end up being disappointed, as Carry on Pickpocket definitely emphasizes the comedy in the martial arts/comedy equation, at least for the first two acts. That's not to say that there is no action to speak of. There are several fun little scenes, such as when Sammo takes on several people in a disco, but there's more hijinks rather than high kicks on display here. Also, those people out there who aren't fans of Hong Kong comedies -- which tend to be loud and brash -- will find nothing to change their opinions.
Where Carry on Pickpocket really earns its' recommendation from this particular reviewer is the final act. With a more serious change in tone and a more determined focus on straight-up no-frills hard-hitting martial arts action, the last thirty minutes or so of Carry on Pickpocket is great stuff and serves as a fine reminder as to why so many fans, including yours truly, hold Hong Kong motion pictures produced from this period in such high regard.