Hong Kong Playboys (1983) Review

"Hong Kong Playboys" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Hong Kong Playboys" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Wong Jing
Writer: Wong Jing
Producer: Lawrence Wong
Cast: Alexander Fu Sheng, Patrick Tse Yin, Nat Chan (Pak Cheung), Cherie Chung (Cho Hung), Lau Suet Wa (Liu Hsueh-Hua), Lee Heung Kam, Fong Ping, Chan Laap Ban, Lam Fai Wong, Lau Yat Fan, Sek Kin, Tam Tin Nam, To Siu Ming, Chin Wai Yee
Time: 94 min

By Mighty Peking Man

Hong Kong Playboys stars the late Alexander Fu Sheng as Romantic Sheng, a free-spirited lady’s man who enjoys exotic cars and hi-tech gadgetry in his one-of-a-kind bachelor’s pad (you have to see his place to believe it – it’s a single guy’s dream!). His romantic situations are compromised when his mother and her caretaker (Cherie Chung) unexpectedly show up. Despite Sheng’s unwanted guests, he still manages to take part in a series of bizarre “who can get the women” competitions between him and Valentine (Patrick Tse), a middle-aged tycoon. Along the way, Sheng must choose between remaining a playboy or settling down with his one true love.

First off, let me get to the point: this movie is a letdown. I don’t mind movies that are pure camp, but this one is so convoluted that the necessary cheese-factors become pointless. The film starts off on the right track by introducing Sheng’s player-lifestyle and his ease with picking up on the ladies. In fact, one of the best scenes in the film, which lasts only minutes, is where Sheng teaches his chubby friend the “do’s and don’ts” of courting women. From this point on, the film’s entertainment factor goes up and down – but mostly down. There are a few moments of comedic magic but they seem to get lost in the film’s cluster of tiresome gags involving a number of beautiful women, dorky sidekicks, and unexplainable situations.

Am I being over critical? Sure I am. After all, this is an early Wong Jing flick and those who know his films know that most of them aren’t exactly classic material. One thing’s for sure: Alexander Fu Sheng is as charismatic as Chow Yun-Fat and Jackie Chan combined, and I’m talking in their best years; I’m not just saying this because the guy is dead (he lost his life in an accident where his car smashed into a wall at a very high speed, shortly after this film). There’s no doubt in my mind, even after his successful kung-fu career in 1970s (this film, however, is kung fu-less), that Fu Sheng could go head-to-head with Jackie Chan as far as overall success. After all, he’s been called the “James Dean of Hong Kong”…

Hong Kong Playboys also marks an early appearance by Cherie Chung who is mostly known for her work in Sammo Hung’s Winners and Sinners, Tsui Hark’s Peking Opera Blues, and John Woo’s Once A Thief. Other familiar faces include Patrick Tse (Shaolin Soccer) and the late Shih Kien (Han from Enter the Dragon).

Visually, the film has a great deal of iconic value. Since the film was made in the colorful year of 1983, it’s a possible treat for fans of retro-pop culture. Most of this takes place in Sheng’s pad where he shows off an array of hi-tech gadgetry including a radio controlled wine-server; a clap-on/clap-off switch for lights, music and stereo; an answering machine that displays which girlfriend is calling in the most 1980ish way; dozens of Member’s Only jackets; bad perms on the women; and classic sports cars that signify the film’s year, like the Lamborghini Countach. It may sound funny, but all these things add some much-needed charm to the film.

Overall, Hong Kong Playboys is a must for fans of Fu Sheng. Not only was it one of his last films, but it’s also the only one that shows a more animated and comedic side to him. Kudos to Celestial Pictures, they digitally remastered this for it’s DVD release and they did such a fantastic job that it looks as if it were filmed last year.

Like I said, a must for Fu Sheng fans. As a whole? Skip it.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 6.5/10

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