Stephen Chow, the King of Comedy in Hong Kong, has decreased his film
output of late, meaning if you want more of his style of comedy, then
you have to look into his back catalogue of films. Some of these films
are not as "Internationally Accessible" as his more recent efforts,
resulting in a lot of humour being missed for non-Chinese speakers. With
From Beijing With Love, however, there is enough humour here that
even if you do miss some, you should still be in stitches laughing.
Renowned for his ability to spoof everything famous, it is not even
remotely a surprise to learn that this film is a spoof of one of Britain's
best known film exports, James Bond. In Beijing a man with a golden gun
steals the cranium bones of China's only dinosaur fossil. Stephen, the
Chinese 007 with license to kiss and kill, is sent to Hong Kong to work
with a local operative, Yuen, who is pretty but not co-operative.
Needless to say in the course of his mission he falls for her, unaware of
the surprises that lay ahead.
With spoof comedies, as has been proven by a lot of Hollywood films and
several Hong Kong efforts that I've seen, there is always a risk that
the spoof just won't work well and that the film won't be as funny as
the makers' think it is. That is not the case here, and I was sure of it
from quite early in the film. Once Chow's character (who's called Ling
Ling Chat, which is Cantonese for Zero Zero Seven) has got his mission,
his entrance in the hotel will forever stick in my memory. He walks in
with a beautiful woman, looking confident and smug, only for it to
transpire that she isn't with him at all, and he is in fact in completely
the wrong hotel! Ok, so you had to be there...
Nevertheless, the comedy is very frequent, with scenes like the
backward-firing gun also being highly memorable, but what came as quite a
surprise was the blood level in the film. Basically, in some scenes there
is quite a lot of it! Particularly the "extracting the bullet" scene,
although this does again result in yet another hysterical moment! With
the ridiculous, slap-stick and really quite stupid humour, the film had
the potential to appeal to all ages and be a very good family action
comedy, however, the bloodshed makes From Beijing With Love limited
in its appeal.
While Chow's recent films have taken to the current trend of adding in
lots of CG, sometimes needlessly, films like this show what can be done
without computers and on a smaller budget. Genuine comic skill plays a
far larger part of what we see on screen and what we remember once the
film is over, and this is one of Chow's efforts that I think I will
remember for the longest!