I’m not sure why exactly, but a couple months back I decided to check out some Stephen Chow films, ones I’ve seen, and ones I haven’t. For some reason Forbidden City Cop wasn’t on that list, and it wasn’t till a friend of mine said that was actually his favourite Chow film, that I decided to add it to the list to check out. And well, with a few of his films under the belt over the last few weeks, it was Forbidden City Cop up to bat tonight.
For those of you who may not know who I’m talking about, Stephen Chow is the writer, director, and actor of classic Hong Kong films Shaolin Soccer, and Kung Fu Hustle, with the latter his most well known film in the western world, and rightly so. This little Chow marathon was going to include his films that both came after and preceded those two films, and having loved his other films I’ve got to check out for the first time with this little viewing challenge, meant I was excited to see Forbidden City Cop.
The first thing I’ll say is that not only are Hong Kong films not for everyone, Chow films are even more so, as the comedy, though great, can be a little wacky, to the point of not even making sense. Though I say not making sense to a western audience, as for all I know what might have us wondering what’s going on, may have an Asian audience in stitches. Of his films I’ve seen to date, this has been by far the strangest one, with many an odd moment that may have gone over my head.
Having said that though, it was still filled with great physical humour, from pratfalls, to overly broad slapstick fights, to great situational comedy, all of which most people can connect with on some level. The story though, like many Hong Kong action films, was a little weak and often didn’t make sense, though just because it tells its story differently than western films, doesn’t necessarily make it wrong or bad.
One thing that I am picking up more and more from his films are the running gags he uses from one to the next and the similar characters and actors that turn up. Because of this, often scenes, to my eye, are better because of this, but for someone who might be seeing these films as one offs, might not find those particular scenes special in anyway. For me though, I love those kinds of touches that filmmakers put in to let their audience know, and their fans especially, that they care enough to pull you in as part of the fun and journey of their own careers.
So though easily my least favourite of his films I’ve seen to date, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, it’s just not as good as his others, but it’s still well worth checking out for fans of Hong Kong action, comedy films, or just of Stephen Chow himself.
7 out of 10 from me!!!