Hong Kong Digital
is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film
reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong
The Haunted Cop Shop
Jacky Cheung. Image courtesy Mega Star.
The film that launched the "Police Academy Meets the Monsters" cycle, this Jeff Lau Chun-wai farce tackles both Eastern and Western horror conventions. Much-hated police chief Shun (Woo Fung) receives a visit one day from an ex-officer, who is now a monk. He has come to worn his former boss that the station (which used to be a bar and the site where a group of Japanese soldiers committed suicide at the end of World War II) will soon be overrun by the undead during the upcoming Festival of Hungry Ghosts, unless precautions are taken, a threat Shun doesn't take seriously. Later that evening, bumbling cops Macky Kim (Jacky Cheung Hok-yau) and Chiu Man (Ricky Hui Koon-ying) have fun tormenting thief Sneaky Ming (Billy Lau Nam-kwong), whom they get to confess in a novel fashion. Locked away in his cell for the night, Ming finds himself invited out to a ritzy bar and a round of mahjong.
Jacky Cheung and Ricky Hui. Image courtesy Mega Star.
What he doesn't realize is that his three opponents are spirits and he has inadvertently wagered his life. Vampirized by their leader, General Issey (a bloodsucker of the Western variety, sporting the requisite Bela Lugosi-style cape), Ming tries to make Macky and Chiu believe that he is no longer of this earth but the two remain unconvinced -- until Ming gets hit with a ray of sunshine and promptly disintegrates into a pile of ashes. This, however, is just a taste of what the partners and their new female boss have in store for them, as Issey is such a powerful foe, even Taoist master ghost fighter Chung Fat-pak (Chung Fat) cannot contain him.
Chung Fat. Image courtesy Mega Star.
The script (co-written by Lau and Wong Kar-wai -- yes, THAT Wong Kar-wai) contains a few too many throwaway bits that don't really pay off but there are also others that amuse through sheer audacity (Macky and Chiu get revenge on their Madam by fooling her into eating dog meat, which they got by slaughtering the commander's favorite police dog!) and the horror sequences are atmospherically staged. While it does not have quite the inventiveness or comic momentum of its 1988 sequel and Lau's OPERATION PINK SQUAD II, THE HAUNTED COP SHOP is lively fun and worth tracking down. Lau and Fruit Chan Kwoh appear briefly.