aka Mad Mission 4: You Only Die Twice
(Zuijia Paidang Zhi Qianli Jiu Chaipo)
Director – Ringo Lam, Screenplay – Karl Maka, English Dialogue – Larry Dolgin, Producers – Karl Maka, Dean Shek & Raymond Wong, Photography – Sander Lee, Music – Tony A, Special Effects – Wong Kei Hung & Yiu Yau Hung, NZ Special Effects – Kevin Chisnall, Art Director – Vincent Wai, NZ Art Director – Paul Keruse, Action Supervisor – Joseph Chi-chong Chavez. Production Company – Cinema City Co Ltd
Samuel Hui (Sammy), Sally Yeh (Sally Bright), Karl Maka (Kodyjack), Onno Boulee (Hornsby), Sylvia Chang (Officer Ha Tung), Wong Ka Ming (Junior), Ronald Lacey (The Boss)
The Hong Kong cop Kodyjack is asked to guard a prism that is capable of conferring superpowers. However, international mobsters want the prism and abduct Kodyjack’s ex-wife and demand he bring the prism to them in New Zealand.
This was the fourth of the five films in the popular Hong Kong-made Aces Go Places aka Mad Mission series. The series began with Aces Go Places/Mad Mission (1982) and continued through Aces Go Places II/Mad Mission II (1983), Aces Go Places III: Our Man from Bond Street/Mad Mission III: Our Man from Bond Street (1984) and the subsequent Aces Go Places V: The Terracotta Hit (1989), as well as being revived with a different cast in ’97 Aces Go Places (1997). The earlier entries in the series – especially the first – were high-energy slapstick caper films. All of the films centre around suave thief Samuel Hui and Karl Maka as a bumbling police detective.
The series also made a great point of parodying other films – the third film played on the James Bond series, even employing Bond actors such as Richard Kiel and Harold Sakata and Mission: Impossible (1966-73) head Peter Graves. Here the title is clearly intended as a spoof on the James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), while Ronald Lacey appears for a few minutes as the villain of the piece in clear imitation of his villain from Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), even down to the same hat, leather coat and burnt hand.
The inspiration was clearly flagging by the time of this entry. The film has no pretence to anything more than providing a new action sequence about every five minutes, although these are routine and not terribly exciting. The level of the film is juvenile, down about the level of a five-year-old. One is reminded of the endless Bud Spencer-Terence Hill comedies made in the 1970s – although at least the action comes more competently than it ever did in the Spencer-Hill films. Most of the characters are incredibly irritating, especially Sally Yeh as the scientist’s daughter.
Aces Go Places 4: You Only Die Twice was one of the earlier films from Hong Kong director Ringo Lam. In the years ahead, Lam became known for action films such as City on Fire (1987), Full Contact (1992), Twin Dragons (1992), Maximum Risk (1996) and two other genre entries with the Wu Xia Burning Paradise (1994) and the Enlgish-language Replicant (2001) featuring a clone of Jean Claude Van Damme.