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Issue #196 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES January 26th, 2004

Forbidden City Cop
(1996; Win's Entertainment/Samico Films Production)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Daai laap mat taam 008
Mandarin: Da nei mi tan 008
English: Big Inside Cop Ling Ling-fat

A follow-up of sorts to Stephen Chiau Sing-chi's popular James Bond send-up, FROM BEIJING WITH LOVE (reviewed in issue #56), this terrific period fantasy/comedy (co-directed by Chiau and Vincent Kok Tak-chiu) is one of the star's best vehicles. Ling Ling-fat (Chiau) is easily the most incompetent member of The Forbidden City Cops, an elite guard unit assigned to protect the emperor (Cheung Tat-ming) and his possessions. Ling-fat works as a gynaecologist/inventor in his civilian life, cooking up all manner of wacky, Rube Goldberg-style contraptions. When a bizarre creature, dubbed "The Flying Fairy," drops from the heavens in Gum Kingdom, all of China's doctors are ordered to go and dissect its body. However, it is all a ruse set up by the villainous (and literally faceless) "King of No Face" and his demonic family, who want to slaughter all of his enemies' physicians, thus facilitating their planned invasion. Ling-fat manages to save the day, and gets a much higher degree of respect, but Gum Tso (Carman Lee Yeuk-tung), a gorgeous new prostitute from the enemy kingdom, threatens to destroy Ling-fat's blissfully happy marriage.

One of Chiau's most stylish and compact films, FORBIDDEN CITY COP also finds the comedian giving one of his most consistently likeable performances. While Ling-fat possesses some of the smart-aleck traits Chiau is known for, he is also a loyal and loving husband. The scenes the comedian shares with Carina Lau Kar-ling (delightful as Chiau's eternally devoted wife) are wonderful and seem largely off-the-cuff. The screenplay is also a step up, allowing for numerous genre send-ups as well as a reasonably inventive plot twist involving Carman Lee's mysterious femme fatale. Actor/composer Tats Lau Yee-tat gives a hilariously deadpan turn as a zombie-like transvestite, Law Kar-ying is amusingly daft as Ling-fat's put-upon sidekick, and the climax features a great visual reference to one of the most famous moments in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. As two of the villains, Yuen Cheung-yan and Yuen Shun-yee have the chance to poke fun at their roles in DREADNAUGHT (1981) and THE MIRACLE FIGHTERS (1982), period kung fu films directed by their brother, Yuen Woo-ping. Highly recommended to Chiau fans, those looking for a film to try him out with, and those looking to give him another chance.

Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.

Stephen Chiau. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Stephen Chiau and Carman Lee. Image courtesy Mei Ah.
Mei Ah #DVD-008 (HK label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Sync Sound Cantonese and Dubbed Mandarin Language Tracks

Permanent Subtitles in English and Traditional Chinese

18 Chapters -- Not Illustrated

Letterboxed (1.75:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

NTSC Format

88 Minutes

Contains comedic and fantasy-oriented violence, and some crude content

Carina Lau. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Australia: M 15+ (Low Level Violence)
Great Britain: 12
Hong Kong: IIA
Ontario: AA
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]


This was one of Mei Ah's earliest DVDs and the film should definitely be added to their 16:9 re-master list. The source print has some wear but the presentation looks colorful and reasonably sharp. However, the theatrical Chinese/English subtitles are fuzzy and both the Cantonese and Mandarin mono tracks are flat and badly distorted; Mei Ah's laserdisc comes from this same master and is reportedly more satisfying. The DVD has 18 chapter stops but they are just placed at 5 minute intervals throughout and there is no disc menu or extras of any kind. Originally issued in a jewel case packaged in a cardboard sleeve, the disc is now available only in a standard keep case.

FORBIDDEN CITY COP is available at Poker Industries.

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