Friday, February 21, 2020

Shi xiong zhuang gui (1990)

... aka: 師兄撞鬼
... aka: 귀경출사
... aka: Ghost Police
... aka: Look! Love! Pump!
... aka: Look Out, Officer!
... aka: Shaolin Idiot, The
... aka: Si hing jong gwai
... aka: Sư Huynh Trúng Tà 1990 (Wicked Brother Huynh 1990)

Directed by:
Sze Yu Lau

Officers Cheung Biu (Bill Tung), a gambling addict who's taken on massive debt betting on horse races, and Kam Li (Stanley Fung), a womanizer / pervert who dabbles in magic mostly to try to get laid, receive a call to check out a warehouse. Kam Li ends up leaving early and rushing home to be with his girlfriend while Cheung Biu sticks around long enough to discover a drug syndicate in operation. Instead of calling for back-up, he decides to take them on all by himself, which ends with him getting shot in the head and then thrown out a window. Due to owing a lot of high-interest debt, his murder is written off as a suicide in the papers. Cheung Biu ends up in the afterlife where he goes on trial. He pays off the judge (Ching-Ho Law) so he can return to Earth to solve his own murder and is given a little information beforehand. His "saviour" will have a six dotted plum blossom birthmark somewhere on their body, while a more elaborate image will spell his doom. The judge then gives him a satchel filled with spells and charms he may find useful and sends him on his way.

Cheung Biu's ghost arrives at a "Police Training School" where he meets recent graduate Sing (Stephen Chow) aka Officer 1997, who has the six dots on his ass; something he discovers while a horny male doctor attempts to violate him with his billy club (?!) during a physical. Coincidentally, Cheung Biu's former partner Kam Li is also Sing's new boss on the force. The young officer's first assignment involves posing as a customer at a massage parlor where two female undercover officers are already stationed. When they're exposed and about to get shot, Cheung Biu intervenes and makes the owner's gun flexible so he can bend the barrel and shoot all of his thugs instead.

Sing is given the slain officer's former apartment and the ghost soon makes himself known. Cheung Biu strikes up a deal with him. If he'll help avenge his death, he'll return the favor by helping him excel at his job and get the girl of his dreams. The latter happens to be Kam Li's beautiful daughter Ah Yuk (Vivian Chen), who's a model and commercial actress who's also fancied by scar-faced crime king Lee Yang Tang (Sunny Fang), who's also the same guy who killed Cheung Biu. How's that for some convenient plotting? Sing somehow manages to charm Ah Yuk after he comes to her rescue when Tang and his thugs get pushy with her. Of course, Kam Li doesn't like that one bit and does everything he can to get in between the two, even seeking help from his spiritual "Grandmaster," who gives him other powers like stretchy arms he uses to try to grope women with.

Among the ghost cop's magic bag is a "lewdness spell" that makes the target fall in love-lust with the spellcaster. It's first used to make busty chief inspector Amy Yip tear open her blouse and later backfires when Sing accidentally uses it on his self and then tries to seduce his future father-in-law. The bad guys turn out to be involved in a "black sect" and are in cahoots with an evil sorcerer / demon. The sorcerer gives Tang a magical ward (the same "doom" symbol Cheung Biu was shown in heaven) that helps him repel the good ghost's magic. Cheung Biu in eventually captured in a "coffin trap," which will dissipate his spirit is he stays there long enough, forcing our heroes to go concoct a special potion out of cat stool, virgin's urine and a "fairy fart." Don't ask.

This thing's loaded with puerile, crude and mostly unfunny gross-out gags that include falling face first into cat shit, stained underwear, piss, nudie magazines, smelling armpits, body odor, Epsom salt-generated diarrhea, piss, glass-shattering and goldfish-killing power farts, erections (a visual play on "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"), someone getting flushed down a toilet and piss. Did I mention piss? Yes, this has an almost fetishistic amount of it for some strange reason. Not helping matters any is the amount of racism and homophobia on display. None of the female characters have any personality whatsoever and are used solely as props and punchlines, there are tons of lame gay jokes and the inclusion of Vietnamese characters in tiny roles as criminal hookers and a suicide case threatening to jump off a building (who's then chastised as a government moocher and told to just jump by our "hero"!) is mean-spirited and diminishes the film's attempts to be lighthearted and charming.

On the plus side, production values are pretty solid, Chow and Tung are good and the climactic action scene with the sorcerer, which features lots of wire work, magic fx and fireballs, is fairly well done. However, there's nothing there fans of HK genre cinema haven't seen already and seen done better and it's capped off with a shoot-killer's-crotch-through-woman-hostage's-dress demise clearly stolen from Robocop.

The multi-talented Chow started out his show biz career as host of the TVB children's show 430 Space Shuttle before embarking on a critically acclaimed acting, writing and filmmaking career; usually in action / comedy films. He has won all kinds of awards for such hits as The God of Cookery (1996), Shaolin Soccer (2001), which became the highest-grossing film in Hong Kong history, and Kung Fu Hustle (2004), which managed to top Soccer's gross and held the record for highest-grossing HK movie until 2011. Many of his films have also had crossover success here in the U.S. The director made a number of other ghost comedies, including Ghost Busting (1989), Ghost Fever (1989) and My Neighours Are Phantoms! (1990).

A Shaw Brothers co-production, this was a minor box office hit and made 12 million in its home country. It's also one of the better-distributed HK genre titles from this time and is easy to find on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray, clearly due to the presence of its star.

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