FORBIDDEN CITY COP
(Daai Laap Mat Taam 008)
Forbidden City Cop is Stephen Chows follow-up-of-sorts to his earlier From Beijing with Love. From Beijing was a joyous parody of the James Bond films and in Forbidden City Cop Chow plays essentially the same character an agent of the Chinese Empire with nearly the same name, although this time the film is set in dynastic China rather than the present. Stephen Chows love of the James Bond films shows up in the hilarious credits sequence, which is a take-off of the familiar Maurice Binder credits sequences for the Bond films a silhouetted girl dances on a male figures arm, his head turns and licks her, she turns and kicks him in the face; a figure twirls a sword but loses his grip and something glass shatters off-screen. This time Chows satiric targets are more wide-ranging than simply the James Bond films. He manages to send-up everything from the gadgeteering of the Bond films there is an hilarious display of useless gadgetry in the opening few minutes to the fantastic martial arts sequences of Hong Kongs Wu Xia cycle to Saturday Night Fever (1977), the Alien Autopsy video and even the Academy Award ceremonies.
From Beijing with Love was extremely funny but Forbidden City Cop is (perhaps only by increments) a better film. Certainly, its sense of humour is more sophisticated. Chows gadgets from his display at the beginning to his vibrating bed and the dippy devices he invents to save labour for his wife are charming. The martial arts sequences are fun, although never quite achieve the dizzying visual acrobatics of the Hong Kong counterparts they parody. However, the action sequence with Chow firing the cannon out of his mouth and using magnets to draw and repel an opponent around the room are a great deal of fun. He and Carina Lau, the actress playing his wife, have a wonderfully naturalistic screen rapport. The scene where he manages to outrageously lie to get around his wife and familys suspicions about what he was doing at the brothel is extremely funny. The singularly most hilarious sequence is the one where the charade that was put on to fool Gum Tso is revealed and in a gloriously surreal moment of meta-cinema Carina Lau and her father step up to receive awards for their performances and poor Chow demands to know why he did not receive one, only to have his performance taken apart and criticised.
Stephen Chows films tend to be a little weak when it comes to overall story and Forbidden City Cop suffers somewhat from having what feels like two stories, one concerning the journey to find the Flying Fairy, the other about the seduction by Gum Tso. It is otherwise hilarious.
(Winner in this sites Top 10 Films of 1996 list).