Review: WINNERS AND SINNERS 奇謀妙計五福星 (1983) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Review: WINNERS AND SINNERS 奇謀妙計五福星 (1983)

Review: WINNERS AND SINNERS 奇謀妙計五福星 (1983)

WINNERS AND SINNERS begin with a series of well-crafted introductions as we first get to know Teapot (Sammo Hung) who is a cat burglar trying to sneak into people's houses, only to be unlucky to land himself (conveniently) into a police van. The following day, unruly civil rights leader Curly (John Shum) who promotes the working rights of prostitutes got himself at the wrong side of the law when he unexpectedly causes his supporters to involve in an ugly fight. Next up, is Exhaust Pipe (Richard Ng) a thief disguised as a car washer who steals vehicle parts. He gets himself arrested for trying to steal a tire of a sports car, which actually belongs to a police inspector (Philip Chan). Then there's Vaseline (Charlie Chin), a well-dressed con man who swindles jewellery shops' most expensive watches (how he swindles his way out is simply inventive, yet hilarious), and finally, Rookie (Stanley Fung), who is a mysterious and rude stranger. All five of them end up in prison and eventually become friends. They promise to make their fortune together once they are released from the prison. Nevertheless being the eldest one, Rookie becomes the gang's leader while Teapot results as a subject of bully by others. Following their release, Curly brought four of them to stay together with his beautiful sister, Shirley (Cherie Chung). All four of them are so spellbound by her beauty each of them is challenging each other to court her. But Shirley is particularly fond of Teapot, which makes the others jealous. Meanwhile, the wealthy criminal Jack Tar (James Tien), who also released the same day, is involved in a counterfeit syndicate. One day, he sends over his son-in-law, Chai (Tai Bo) to make a counterfeit deal with one of the criminals, things goes wrong when two snatch thieves (Mars, Huang Ha) take away the briefcase. Coincidentally, the event takes place where a brave but careless cop #7086 (Jackie Chan) who is actually there for a roller-skating competition, stumbles upon the robbery and chases the two snatch thieves. During the pursuit, the two snatch thieves end up tossing the briefcase into the back of the van -- which ironically belongs to Five Lucky Stars Cleaning Company (yup, it happens to own by those five friends). What follows next is a case of huge misfortune as the five friends get tangled with Jack Tar.


REVIEW: One of the most popular action comedies in the '80s, Sammo Hung's WINNERS AND SINNERS was released to great commercial success in 1983 (with HK$21.9 million at the box office) and set a new trend of what contemporary action-comedy genre in the years to come.

Clocking at a breezy 101 minutes, WINNERS AND SINNERS is basically all about being fun and entertaining. The plot, written by Sammo Hung and Barry Wong, is nothing more than a series of comedic hijinks that most of them are hilarious enough. Best of all, director Sammo Hung make the best use of his fellow actors to good advantages, and that includes himself. As a character who always gets bullied by others, Hung certainly fits the bill to play such a pitch-perfect role. He's a real sport when comes to comedy elements and he's even a great entertainer to watch him take down a group of bad guys with his impressive martial art skill. The rest of the actors are equally playful as well, which includes Stanley Fung and John Shum. Charlie Chin is particularly good playing a suave character with deadpan humour, while Richard Ng shines in a memorable scene where he is being exploited by others to go naked in front of them since he likes to be "invisible" very much. Cherie Chung is downright sweet-natured and cute enough to make her more than just a thankless role. James Tien is suitably over-the-top as the despicable villain and he's certainly born to play such a role. Last but not least is a cameo appearance by Jackie Chan. Despite only appear in a few scenes, he makes his character entertaining and memorable enough.

While comedy is the main point of this movie, Hung doesn't forget to entertain his fans and viewers alike with a couple of well-choreographed fight scenes and even some spectacular stunts. Among all, the roller-skating chase sequence involving Chan pursuing the two snatch thieves on the busy highway is downright exhilarating (the one where he glides under the moving container truck is a must-see to believe) and of course, the massive vehicular pile-ups.

WINNERS AND SINNERS is the first of "Lucky Stars" long-running series, and subsequently spawned countless imitations ever since then. The movie went on to win Best Action Choreography at the Hong Kong Film Awards, while Richard Ng earned a nod for Best Actor (lost to Tony Leung Ka-Fai in BURNING OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE).

Sammo Hung's hugely popular WINNERS AND SINNERS is a quintessential '80s action-comedy packed with a playful cast, elaborate comedy hijinks and entertaining action scenes.

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