Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jokers Playing Games (1987)

... aka: Sky Deities

Directed by:
"Tommy Young" (Kong Yeung and Yeung Tong-Mei)

Here's yet another little-known Hong Kong ghost comedy; one of dozens if not hundreds from the 80s alone. This one isn't on IMDb and I couldn't even find a Romanized version of the title anywhere. It was originally released as 娶錯老婆投錯胎. I tried to translate that and it made no sense whatsoever so I'll just leave it alone for now. The “Jokers” are a trio of immature, klutzy imbeciles who strut and bumble around their small village causing various problems and accidents. The primary one is a cocky hairdresser named Law (Law Ho-Kai), who's obsessed with the extremely vacuous Eliza (Eliza Yue) and sets about wooing her. He runs into competition from Imbecile #2, a dorky friend of his who attempts to sway her his way with flowers and non-Japanese chocolates. Imbecile #3 is Chicken (Chun Wong), who works at a fish market and also happens to be Eliza's brother. Since Chicken is chubby, he is, of course, the go-to guy who can easily be coerced into doing bone-headed things on behalf of the other two. The guys mug their way through a bunch of pea-brained comic scenes that involve accidentally tossing a fish down a woman's blouse, shaving half of a guy's mustache off, threatening a group of annoying children with death, setting a clothesline full of girl's underwear on fire and joining in on an aerobics session set to an instrumental version of Madonna's “Material Girl” (!!) They, and nearly every other character in this film, seem completely obsessed with gambling, whether it be on horse races of Mahjong games.

There's a mayoral election going on in the village and the two candidates are businessman Uncle Wah (Ng Hing-Wah), another buffoon, and doctor Bill Chan Wang (Bill Tung), who practices both standard medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Eliza and Chicken both rent their apartment from Bill and his wife (Tang Pik-Wan). The wife, along with most of the rest of the jealous village wives, hate Eliza and want her driven out of town because she's desired by all of the menfolk. In an effort to get their husbands more interested in them instead, they make putrid-smelling soup from horse penises (!) that will supposedly make their husbands horny. Little do they know, but they really have nothing to worry about because Eliza suffers from a case of the “bouble-sexes.” I think they meant "double-sexes" or, in layman's terms, she's a hermaphrodite. Bill attempts to cure her the old school way through magic, but when his wife overhears him asking Eliza to remove her panties, a shit-storm erupts. As a result, Chicken and Eliza willingly leave the village and attempt to try their luck in the big city.

Psst, don't ask "What's for dinner?" You'll be sorry.

Eliza decides to try her hand at modeling and makes a good first impression during training when she rips the wig off off her drag queen walking coach and mocks him. Meanwhile, Chicken manages to get a new job at the Dai Fu Kei Funeral Home making and selling coffins, where he runs into trouble with a competitive co-worker named, uh, Donald Duck. Yeah, that's what the subs are telling me. The two eventually decide to start working together. When a family refuses to pay the asking price for burial services, Chicken and Donald decide to save money by making the coffin out of cheap plywood. It turns out to be too small so they cram the body inside and, during transport, the coffin begins falling apart and the body eventually falls out right in front of the family. I think that was supposed to be funny.

Because of his troubled upbringing, Chicken has remained a virgin all these years. Thankfully, his new job helps to remedy that when he falls in love with one of the corpses (!) and begins having sex with its ghost (!!) Soon, a couple of fat male cops from the otherworldly “Immigration Department” show up wanting to take Chicken's ghost lover, Mei Ling (Maria Yuen), back to hell. Because he'd only partially seen her in the dark and doesn't know what she really looks like, the two ghost officers force Chicken, Eliza and Donald to hit the streets looking for a woman with a large “spot” (mole) on her face. They're unable to locate her, but instead run across an ugly woman (Yu Miu-Lin) who keeps trying to commit suicide because no man wants to marry her. She's run over by a car, the ghost woman possesses her body and then Chicken ends up marrying her after she gets the huge mole hacked off. A happy ending for everyone? Well, not quite. There's another ghost, a possession and some hopping vampire impostors thrown into the mix at the very end.

I usually have a lot of fun with these Hong Kong ghost movies. Even when they're dumb as hell you can usually count on them to provide a few laughs from all the goofy slapstick as well as a few thrills from the choreographed action scenes, stunt work and / or special effects. Not so here. This is terrible! The constantly-bickering characters are extremely obnoxious, the actors are annoying, the writing is awful and the directors seem to have no regard whatsoever for pacing or general coherence. As far as the special effects are concerned, they're unimaginative and unimpressive and I think most elementary school students could have done a better job on the ghost makeups with a 5 dollar Halloween kit. Worst of all, this isn't the least bit funny. The only thing to even put a smile on my face were the terrible English translations on the subs.

Veteran actress Lisa Mok Wan-Ha was the producer of this cinematic equivalent of Chinese water torture. For some reason, many of the actors use their real names for their characters. There was an English-subtitled VCD released here in America by Ocean Shores in the late 90s.

1 comment:

Lost Media Archive said...

If you would like to sell your copy, please contact me at bcsterrett@gmail.com

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