Director: Corey Yuen Kwai
Writer: Barry Wong Ping Yiu
Producer: Sammo Hung Kam Bo
Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock, John Sham Kein, Meng Hoi, Tsui Hark, James Tien, Dick Wei, Tai Bo, Fung Lee, Chung Fat, Dennis Chan Kwok San, Fruit Chan Gor, Johnny Cheung Yiu Wah, David Chiang Da Wei, Chin Kar Lok
Running Time: 93 min.
Less than one minute into Yes, Madam, Michelle Yeoh slams a hardcover book shut on a man’s exposed genitals. At that point I knew I would be watching something a little…different.
And I was right. “Different” in the sense that it doesn’t play out at all like the plot summaries on the package and elsewhere on the web would have you believe. The movie is described as an action flick with Michelle Yeoh and Cynthia Rothrock as cops (surprise, surprise) doing pretty standard HK action flick cop stuff. Not so! The main thrust of the movie is three friends…Aspirin, Strepsil and Panadol…trying to make a big score by diving into the deep end of the organized crime pool and cutting a deal with the notorious Mr. Tin. Aspirin and Strepsil and petty thieves and Panadol is a forger/counterfeit artist who has the most unintentionally funny line in the film: “I’ll do things unthinkable of!” Strepsil is stuck with the role of mediator when Aspirin and Panadol bicker (which is all the time) and Sammo Hung has a small role as their mentor, referred to only as “the old man”. It’s odd to see Sammo as a young man pretending to be even older than he is no (2/21/01). Tsui Hark also appears in the film…I believe he plays Panadol but since I’m not accustomed to seeing him, don’t think that’s set in stone. The guy who plays Mr. Tin has just about the worst diabolical laughter ever produced by villain or villainess. Young Michelle Yeoh, in one of her earliest films (#2 unless I’m mistaken) may be considered the lead and may have the most screen time but she most certainly is NOT the central figure in the story. Neither is Cynthia. This ain’t no mindless “You go, girl” flick about women just kicking ass…but you might wish it was.
There’s a brief and pointless shootout to start things off; then, for a good hour or so, the story just plods along with a dash of excitement every now and then to keep the viewer at least vaguely interested. The catalyst for Michelle to have the case dumped into her lap is the murder of her friend Richard (which doesn’t seem to bother her on a personal level even one little bit). Cynthia Rothrock gets introduced a later on and beats up a fleeing suspect in an airport. Then she beats him up again in the interrogation room. That’s pretty much all she likes to do. Beat people up. Michelle’s character is more of a good Samaritan type of cop. She may be the beauty queen, but Cynthia is more fun to watch.
Like I said, the plot (such as it is) focuses primarily on Aspirin, Strepsil and Panadol. Panadol is, to be blunt, an addle-brained buffoon, and his buddies aren’t exactly criminal geniuses either. Their antics are supposed to be amusing, but they give you an unpleasant sense of “filler”. Strange jokes pop up in odd places throughout the film to catch you off guard, but for the most part, they’re pretty lame. One notable exception is when Panadol (a complete wuss in addition to being a jackass) must elude an angry ex-customer inside his tiny apartment, which is cluttered with all sorts of obstacles that he uses to his advantage in order to keep his attacker from throttling him. Additionally, there’s a part where a civil servant and a police officer argue over the right to give a parking ticket which is worth a snigger or two. Also worth mentioning: a plastic tit, an unusual recipe for applesauce, and Mr. Tin’s henchman who looks like a caricature of Saddam Hussein.
So what’s the point of all this? Well, it turns out that Aspirin and Strepsil have inadvertently stolen a microfilm from Mr. Tin, and it has fallen into Panadol’s possession. On the microfilm is a forged real estate contract worth billions of dollars. This is the plot device around which lots of shit revolves, yet it’s hardly given a mention.
So, we have two ass-kicking ladies not kicking much ass and three nincompoops not doing much of anything for about an hour and twenty.
And then, the payoff.
Considering thie sparse and watered down action seen for the majority of the movie, my expectations for the inevitable showdown between the forces of good and the unscrupulous Mr. Tin weren’t too high. When said showdown took place (it WAS inevitable, after all) I was much relieved to see that the film had not been a complete waste of time. While not epic by any means, it is a very good “Us vs. Them” battle with Michelle and Cynthia sending bodies flying everywhere and Strepsil just trying to survive (the part where he’s cornered by swordsmen is the funniest bit in the movie; you’ll know it when you see it). After the peons are dealt with, they go after the big fish. This whole scene seems to be where most of the budget went. They really make a mess out of Mr. Tin’s home. The Police Story influence isn’t hard to see.
So, when that’s all dealt with, it just remains for everyone to go home and live happily ever after, right? Wrong. The very end of the movie tosses out the NLP (Neat Little Package) syndrome and hits the viewer in the balls (female readers, substitute the body part of your choice). All in all, a so-so movie with a very nice finish, but not worth writing home over (unless it’s next door).
Numskull’s Rating: 6/10