Wednesday, 24 August 2016

From Beijing with Love (3 Stars)

Stephen Chow directed this 1994 film as well as playing the lead role. Ling Ling Chat is an agent for the Chinese secret service who went into early retirement because his bosses didn't think he possessed the necessary skills for his work. He returned to his former job as a butcher, but always hoped that one day he would be called back for duty. This day finally arrives after 10 years. A dinosaur's skeleton has been delivered to the Chinese national museum. The head has been stolen by criminals to be sold to the highest bidder. Ling Ling Chat is considered to be the most suitable person to track down the ones responsible.

If Ling Ling Chat was lacking in skills 10 years ago, he's even more rusty now. He's forgotten how to use a gun. Fortunately he's spent all this time practising with his meat cleaver, so it's now a deadly weapon in his hands. A beautiful secret agent is assigned to assist him, but he doesn't suspect that she's a double agent who is waiting for a chance to kill him.

This is a rather unsubtle James Bond spoof. It's been compared with "Johnny English", but it doesn't reach the same level. In the case of "Johnny English" the humour comes from an incompetent spy succeeding against powerful enemies more by luck than by skill. In the case of "From Beijing with Love" almost everyone is incompetent, both Ling Ling Chat's friends and his enemies. This makes the film less amusing overall. It's not a bad film, but I don't enjoy it as much as Stephen Chow's other comedies like "Shaolin Soccer".

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