aka Mad Mission Part 2: Aces Go Places
(Zui Jia Pai Dang 2: Da Xian Shen Tong)
Hong Kong. 1983.
Director – Eric Tsang, Screenplay – Raymond Pak-Ming Wong, Producer – Raymond Wong, Photography – Arthur Wong, Music – Teddy Robin Kwan, Special Effects Supervisor – Kevin Chisnall, Production Design – Nansun Shi & Oliver Wong. Production Company – Cinema City & Films Co..
Sam Hui (King Kong), Karl Maka (Albert ‘Baldy’ Au), Sylvia Chang (Superintendent Nancy Ho), Sue Wang (Juju), Yasuaki Kurata (Bull), Tsui Hark (FBI), Kwok-chi Hon (Squealie), Eric Tsang (Fattie), Joe Dimmick (Black Gloves), Cho Tat-wah (Uncle Wah)
The thief King Kong faces people trying to kill him, including their sending a killer transformer robot into his apartment. He meets the beautiful Juju only for her to conduct a bank robbery and leave him holding the gun. Fleeing police pursuit, he interrupts the wedding between his friend police detective Albert ‘Baldy’ Au and Superintendent Nancy Ho to beg Baldy’s help. This puts a strain on Baldy’s new marriage. In trying to find Juju who runs a gang with her brother, King Kong and Baldy are then framed by her for a diamond store robbery. At the same time, a former top US government official has despatched the assassin Black Gloves to eliminate the King Kong and Baldy.
The Aces Go Places series, known as the Mad Mission series in US release, was a popular series of Hong Kong action films. The series began with Aces Go Places (1982), which introduced Samuel Hui as the thief King Kong and Karl Maka as the police inspector Baldy and their pairing up on a caper involving stolen diamonds. This featured a series of entertaining action sequences but the series went into orbit with the first sequel here. It would be followed by Aces Go Places III: Our Man from Bond Street/Mad Mission III: Our Man from Bond Street (1984), Aces Go Places 4: You Only Die Twice/Mad Mission 4: You Only Die Twice (1986) and Aces Go Places V: The Terracotta Hit (1989), all featuring Sam Hui, Karl Maka and Sylvia Chang. The series was revived with a different cast in 97 Aces Go Places (1997). The film is directed by Eric Tsang, who is better known as an actor, but also directed the first film, along with several others including Jackie Chan’s Armour of God (1986) and the ghost comedy/action film Ghost Punting (1992).
Hong Kong specialises in a unique sense of very fast-paced slapstick comedy called mo lei tau. Jackie Chan emerged as a star of this with his highly energetic blend of slapstick and action. The Aces Go Places films out around the same time as Chan was starting to make a name for himself. Indeed, it is quite possible that the Aces Go Places films inspired Chan with his hit Police Story (1985), which offers almost exactly the same mix of frenetic slapstick knockabout action that we get here.
The first of the Aces Go Places series was a likeable caper film but was mundanely grounded but the blend of comedy and action was pushed completely over-the-top by the time of the second film here. The film sets its pace with an entertaining opening sequence where Sam Hui returns to his apartment only to find it has been invaded by a robot. A Transformer robot no less – indeed, the Transformers fad did not actually emerge until 1984, shortly after this – which assembles itself out of several miniature remote-control helicopters. An apartment wrecking fight then ensues as Hui fights off the robot as it fires missiles, uses a chain arm, built-in guns and a detachable hand.
In the next scene, Sam Hui is fooled by Sue Wang into being the patsy for a bank robbery and left holding the gun. This quickly segues into one of the film’s immensely entertaining action sequences with Hui being pursued while on a motorcycle in a chase through parking buildings, up a builder’s ramp at a nearly 90 degree curve, across the tops of buses and ending in a massive leap out into the harbour while still on the cycle. There are assorted other chase sequences throughout including on BMX bikes at one point.
The other standout set-piece is where the two makes an escape in a car pursued by a flotilla of red Jaguar XJ12s that involves vehicles pursuing each other in reverse, two Jags driving down a street on two wheels and Hui and Maka continuing on after their vehicle has been bifurcated down the middle. Things go completely mad at the climax that features another transformer made up of suitcases and Sam Hui going into action against it with an army of toy robots up against each other firing lasers and missiles indoors. This is followed by another chase sequences involving two Rolls Royces (one of which we see crushed eegah!!) and Hui and Maka in a custom-designed armoured car armed with rockets, before their continuing on using miniature motorcycles and rocket backpacks.
The whole film consists of these slapstick action sequences delivered at a manic pace that is wound up to 15 on the dial with only the most minimal of plot sketching sequences together. Even when the film is taking a break from the action sequences, the two characters are in the midst of a series of slapstick set-pieces – be it Sam Hui on the run interrupting Karl Maka’s wedding service; Hui hiding in the shower in Maka’s apartment and trying to not let wife Sylvia Chang know he is there before she decides to take a shower; and a scenario that for some reason requires Maka to pretend a hooker is his fiancee in a restaurant while wife Sylvia Chang sneaks up behind and starts attacking him with a baseball bat. Sam Hui and Karl Maka give madcap performances – Maka in particular – as though they were in pantomime and playing to the back gallery.
The other Aces Go Places films began to regularly homage the James Bond and other spy and action films. It started here where we get a Clint Eastwood lookalike (Joe Dimmick) outfitted in Eastwood’s Man With No Name persona armed with a Magnum .44 who is despatched to eliminate Kong and Baldy by a Henry Kissinger lookalike. Although the disappointment of the film is that after introducing such a character, surprisingly little is made of him thereafter.
An interesting note also is the presence of Tsui Hark, who on the same day that Aces Go Place II was released also released his directorial outing Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983), which changed the face of Hong Kong Cinema. Tsui went on to direct works like Green Snake (1993), Once Upon a Time in China (1993) and a host of others. Here he has a rather hilarious performance as a mental patient who claims that he is an FBI agent to everybody he encounters.