Director: Ricky Lau
Writer: Raymond Wong
Cast: Lau Kar Yung, Dean Shek, Lily Li Li Li, Eric Tsang, Peter Chan, Wong Ching, Fung Hak On, Ho Pak Kwong, Mars, Huang Ha, Chik Ngai Hung
Running Time: 90 min.
By Martin Sandison
The nephew of the Lau brothers, Lau Kar Yung, certainly did not achieve as much in the martial arts film genre as Lau Kar Leung and Lau Kar Wing. The former, before his death, was seen as one of the top three choreographers of all time; with his countless credits on Chang Cheh’s early classics, then on to his self-directed masterworks such as 8 Diagram Pole Fighter.
Kar Wing established himself as one of the great onscreen fighters of the golden age, fighting his brother in a few productions (most notably in the all-out classical weapons fest Legendary Weapons 0f China) and his collaborations with Sammo Hung, bearing such beautiful fruits as Odd Couple. In contrast, Lai Kar Yung, despite being the best-looking of all three, never succeeded in being a leading star or working on much of note behind the camera. One of the few films he took the lead in is the independent kung fu comedy Crazy Couple – which despite silly comedy, a hackneyed script and storyline – delivers some great shapes action and is pretty entertaining.
Cho (Lau Kar Yung) and Yan (Dean Shek, Drunken Master) are sworn brothers who are looking to save up their cash and learn martial arts. When their pet monkey is killed in a comedy of errors, the supposed culprit Chiu Chat Yeh (Wong Ching, Eight Escorts) takes them in and teaches them kung fu. However, many twists and turns, mean comedy, and tragedy collide as the brothers keep getting deeper in some dastardly villains evil situations.
Interestingly, the plot of the movie allows for two masters who teach the young two differing styles. First is Wong Ching, who gets one of his best martial arts roles with numerous examples of his physical dexterity. Second is Huang Hua, who plays an old swindler who rips off the pair but ends up befriending them. A veteran of classic kung fu, my favourite part of his is a small one in Sammo Hung’s masterful The Victim.
Choreographing the action and appearing as the main villain is the late Fung Hark On (Police Story), sporting a nifty goatee. His skills are evident and powerful, with his end fight hand forms reaching some pretty intricate heights. Fung was always one of my favourites, and his work stretched from classic kung fu to even John Woo’s early comedies, such as Pilferrers Progress, with his onscreen credits scoring at 201.
While the comedy in Crazy Couple errs on the side of tiresome and too silly for its own good, especially Dean Shek’s usual schtick that got boring two films after Drunken Master, one cameo beggars belief. Wong Ching’s daughter – who Lau Kar Yung is asked to look out for, as she has a mental problem – is none other than Eric Tsang in drag. The tired trope of the hero thinking he has struck gold with a beautiful girl, only to see she is rather rotund, is exploded with the appearance of Tsang; especially with the great man’s standing as a Hong Kong cinema legend in the present day. However, this is one of the few moments of the film that made me more-than-chuckle, the other being Dean Shek getting pulverised in to dirt. The comedy sits uneasily alongside the more po faced leanings, creating a vacuum of responses that never rests.
Lau Kar Yung does a reasonable job in terms of a lead performance, but lacks the requisite charm to carry it off. His martial arts chops are never in question, with his fluid movement between animal styles and Hung Kuen leaving the viewer begging for more. The most famous movie he had a hand in was Drunken Master 2, in which star Chan and choreographer Lau Kar Leung had a falling out. I have a soft spot for his self directed New Kids in Town, but perhaps only for the Pops cameo wherein he kicks some serious ass. Incidentally, the director of Crazy Couple, Ricky Lau, was a journeyman filmmaker who was DP on classics such as Prodigal Son. His biggest achievement was directing the wonderful all timer Mr. Vampire.
The plotlines intersect in Crazy Couple in the usual coincidence-filled and silly ways typical of the lesser classic kung fu movie, leaving the viewer letting out a deep sigh of acceptance. If you love these movies that is. When I was a kid I really didn’t care about such aspects; now that I’m in my mid 30’s and have seen these weak elements a million times, it gets harder. However, there is a lot to enjoy here for the fan of shapes and the cast.
Martin Sandison’s Rating: 6.5/10