"Being one of the craziest HK flicks I've seen for a while, it's no suprise that the film came of as entertaining piece of art."
Pantyhose Killer (1990)
AKA: Odd Couple
Director: Sammo Hung
Writer: Barry Wong, Szeto Cheuk-Hon
Producer: Sammo Hung
Action Director: Sammo Hung, Yuen Jan Cheung, Siu Foo
Cast: Sammo Hung, Alan Tam, Joan Tong Lai-Kau, Jaclyn Chu, Philip Chan, Paul Chun, James Tien, Wu Ma, Chong Fat, Po Tai, Yam Wai Hung, Lam Man Chung, Billy Ching Sau Yat, Poon Jan Wai
Plot: Two macho cops go undercover as gay men in order to track down a serial killer of homosexuals, leading them on a hilarious tour of Hong Kong's gay community in this action-comedy.
JOSEPH KUBY'S REVIEW: Excellent dark action comedy. It's the funniest Hong Kong film I've seen.
This is definitely not Sammo Hung's worst film (that goes to the Chu Yen Ping-directed The King Swindler). If anything, it's an absolutely winning blend of black humor and very intense action with no sentimental redemption scene where Sammo and Alan are told to be less judgmental.
The title has often been misconstrued as insulting gay men but it's actually a reference to Batman (which ties in with one of the main characters). The funny thing about the title is that when first I came across this film in a magazine advertisment, I assumed it was a Hong Kong take on Mrs. Doubtfire when, in fact, it's a remake of Partners.
Unlike his previous films, Sammo's character is not quite the child-like lovable loser he often portrayed. The humor is a bit more on the edgy side versus the genial atmosphere of something like Millionaires' Express or Winners and Sinners. I think this film would appeal to Western audiences who are accustomed to the hilariously scathing content associated with the likes of Bill Hicks and South Park.
The only formula this film abides by is the Sammo trademark of the action lacking in quantity but not so much in quality. Sammo really struts his stuff in the finale and proves why he would later have his own American TV show.
A lot of people have cited this film as being offensive but I think it's not so much making fun of homosexuals as it is mocking the stereotypes associated with them. This is evident towards the end of the nightclub scene and the scene which takes place afterwards where Sammo fights a bunch of homophobic bikers. As a matter of fact, this film was once screened at a gay-themed film festival in Boston so somebody must have thought that nobody would be too offended.
A review on the Stunt People's site confirmed my belief that the film is not dismissive towards homosexuals. The reviewer noted that Sammo's earlier films featured sex-crazed heterosexual men so Sammo went along with taking that idea into another direction or more specifically another sexuality.
If Sammo depicted heterosexual men as decent and homosexual men as sex-starved hooligans then there really would be a case of double standards. Sammo has always believed in being equal when it comes to dishing out the dirt regardless of age, race, gender or species (i.e. the chicken in Encounters of the Spooky Kind).
Pantyhose Hero was actually co-written and co-directed by Wong Jing. After the groundbreaking box office success 'God of Gamblers' achieved, Sammo was keen to enlist Jing's services. Years earlier, Jing had co-written two of Sammo's films - The Magnificent Butcher and The Prodigal Son. Jing co-wrote another 1990 Sammo film - The Fortune Code.
Certainly, Jing came in handy for the directorial duties when Sammo had to go to hospital (after the infamous car stunt) for four weeks. Jing was working on this film while working on another (Danny Lee's The Big Score).
Jing's input makes its presence in the form of...
1) a sight gag involving the aftermath of an attempted rape by a gay man, which would be reused in City Hunter (starring Jackie Chan).
2) a subtle sight gag in the nightclub scene where we see a man who has a resemblance to Jackie Chan's manager Willie Chan (of whom Jing would feature a caricature of in the Jet Li film High Risk).
3) his often-derided trait of wanting to cash in on a trend. In this case, having a serial killer who's obsessed with Batman (which was a big hit in Hong Kong).
Also, like Crocodile Hunter, the script has enough English dialogue to suggest that Jing could write an entire script in English if he wanted to.
Speaking of which, if the script could be improved in any way, there could have been more scenes involving the serial killer so as to build more tension and further anticipation for the climax. Particularly if Sammo's and Alan's admirers were killed off, leaving us to suspect that either Sammo or Alan were responsible. However, the beginning of the film is a good example of less is more...so I'll leave it at that.
Pantyhose Hero was made during an era when Tam did several films with Jing - Casino Raiders, The Last Blood and No Risk, No Gain. Pantyhose Hero could have been a bigger hit at the box office (it was above average in box office intake) had Stephen Chow's 'All for the Winner' not been released at the same time. Coincidentally, the name of Sammo's character is the same as the director who helmed Stephen's groundbreaking box office hit.
Jing would then cast Stephen in a film which was not only a sequel to God of Gamblers but a sequel to All for the Winner, even going so far as to hire Ng Man-Tat to play his uncle. God of Gamblers 2 almost surpassed All for the Winner's record. It was only when Jing made the fourth installment that he would have a film that would be Hong Kong's highest grossing film. Surprisingly, Stephen wasn't in it (Chow Yun Fat returned instead hence the titles God of Gamblers Returns and The Return of the God of Gamblers).
It's a shame there was no spin-off to Pantyhose Hero called Pantyhose Heroine where we have, more or less, the same story but with female martial arts movie stars, like Cynthia Khan and Yukari Oshima (or Moon Lee and Michiko Nishiwaki), having satirical code names like Bitchie and Butchie.
The story could have took place in Canada and be about a woman obsessed with Catwoman whose identity is belied by the fact she's a policewoman. Both the Catwoman and the other criminal mastermind could have been played by martial artists Sophia Crawford and Karen Shephard.
Anyway, Pantyhose Hero is a film I strongly recommend and it is ideal for converting casual viewers into seeing the films of Hung.
JOSEPH KUBY'S RATING: 10/10
PERKELE'S REVIEW: I never thought that I would enjoy a HK gay comedy this much. But when it's a HK gay comedy from Sammo Hung, you know you can't go wrong. This amazing action-comedy combines some hillarious comedic feasts [I actually laughed out loud, you don't experience that too ofetn wtaching a Hong Kong comedy] and the most painful-looking stuntwork ever captured on celluloid.
Now let's have a quick look at the plot first so you'll get an idea what this flick is up to: At the opening, our two heroic cops, Sammo [who looks like a retarded bumpkin with his over-sized cap, bum bag and everything] and Alan Tam [who looks at least as ridiclous as Sammo with his tacky 80's outfit] break in a house to bust some dudes [propably criminals?]. Right here the film reveals it's ultra-violent nature: while Sammo's and Alan's comedic antics appeal to be funnier than no-one would believe, the bone-crushing kung fu gives it a wicked contrast. Sammo even uses a chainsaw to demolish one thug [we get to see the blade digging in the flesh as blood splatters, in slow motion]! As reward for the spledid work, they are given a task to find out a murdered of some homosexual creeps. More fun occurs when a woman is ordered to train them to act like gays in 72 hours for their undercover operation ["Me gay. You gay too. Let's gay, okay?"]. So naturally Sammo and Alan [who's "gay name" is by the way Gaykey] have to wear the most awful, tasteless 1980's clothes one could imagine. All gay people [are there really THIS much homos in HK???] find them attractive, so they have busy time trying to protect their anal virginity, too. Like that wasn't enough, Sammo, who pretends to be the murder victim's cousin, finds himself in serious trouble with drug-dealers who have some old beef with the murdered guy. On the run, Sammo gets hit by a car [pretty neat stunt, to say the least] and falls in love with the car's driver [a female]. This woman considers Sammo as gay, so Sammo arranges Alan to explain her the true matters of life. However, after escaping a male rapist, Alan tries to work things out but accidentally screws with Sammo's love interest (!) so Sammo gets quite pissed-off [and for a reason] and kicks the shit out of Alan. After a while Sammo is attacked by a knife-wielding madman who thinks he's Batman. Sammo manages to escape, but so does the freak too. The final reel: bad drug-dealing dudes kidnap Sammo, Alan and the girl and bundle some kind of fruit up in Alan Tam's ass [literally]. Our heroes are tied up, but when "Batman" shows up to slash Sammo the mayhem breaks loose.
That was pretty much it: now if that didn't sound bizarre and politically incorrect to you then just what kind of films do you usually watch, you sicko! Being one of the craziest HK flicks I've seen for a while, it's no suprise that the film came of as entertaining piece of art. As said before, the comedy, though some "gay" scenes tend to drag, is mainly just hillarious and the fight action top notch. The fights reminded me of "Pedicab Driver" and "Heart of Dragon". It's a shame that few of the scenes are so obviously sped up, but that doesn't detract from their credibility too much. By the way, you can seldom see the mighty Sammo so much on the losing side as he is in the final match with some mean kicker fellow here. All in all, a must-see film for the fans of Sammo Hung and gay comedies.
PERKELE'S RATING: 7.5/10