Jackie Chan’s winners and sinners – The Lucky Stars (Blu-ray Review)

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This collection of Hong Kong action/comedy films brings together the first three (and most popular) of the franchise. Each of the three films co-stars action man Jackie Chan, showcasing what he does best, alongside a host of popular action stars of the time including Sammo Hung and Yuen Bio, coupled with comedians Richard Ng, Charlie Chin, and Eric Tsang.

Winners And Sinners (1983)

The first in a series of Lucky Stars movies – think Police Academy meets Carry On… – was the brainchild of Sammo Hung who acts, writes and directs. Hung and co-stars Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao were all part of the child troupe of acrobats and dancers called ‘The Lucky Seven’ in a Peking Opera School, The China Dance Academy back in the 1960s.

But bawdy comedy comes from Hung’s main Lucky Stars in the form of John Shum, Richard Ng, Charlie Chin and Stanley Fung. Each with their own quirks and comedic graces, they play off each other perfectly. It’s Hung and Chan who inject the action stakes (and Biao as choreographer) a good hour in when they get involved with the crime lord James Tien, and Chan does what Chan does best in terms of action-comedy and crazy stunts.

But this is more a comedy rather than an action film. However, it’s easy enough to watch and harmless fun on the whole.

 

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My Lucky Stars (1985)

A soft sequel to Winners And Sinners, this action comedy film unites the golden trinity of Hong Kong 80s cinema in the guise of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. However, as is the way for these Eastern films marketed to specific target audiences, this is billed as a Jackie Chan vehicle. In fact, it just shouts about himself, Hung and Biao taking down the Yakuza!

When you watch the film and see that Biao is gone after the first 10 minutes and Chan only appears in the final 30 minutes, you understand that many of these “Lucky Star” films ride off its big names. Hung actually leads the comedy side of the film with a host of successful comic actors such as Richard Ng, Charlie Chin and Eric Tsang.

It’s like two films pieced together – one being an action film and one being a bawdy comedy. The bawdy comedy dominates the film itself and you come to laugh at how terribly the film was advertised. It serves just what it sets out to do, but somehow is less funny than ‘Winners And Sinners’ when all is said and done, sadly.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars (1985)

There’s something about this series of Lucky Stars films. Constantly billed as Jackie Chan movies, yet he’s in each film for less than 15mins at a time, if you’re lucky. Yuen Biao is also horribly shoe-horned in, by this third entry, you just want to give up and watch whatever film Chan and Biao think they’re in.

Sammo Hung directs this buffoonery which is bookended by Chan and Biao doing what they do best and being the only exciting and interesting part in the 90 mins of film. Between that and Hung himself playing one of five grown men who are, essentially after three movies, perverts and near enough abusers. There’s little to find amusing watching each man constantly try to grope an unsuspecting woman and exposing her breasts for all to see as they stand there gawping at her.

Be it in a shopping centre, a flat or on the street, the plot of these five men revolves around trying to have sex, touch women or be part of some orgy. When you have them always cross wires with Chan and Biao as hard-as-nails police officers taking down crime lords and assassins, the films just don’t add up and the forced resolution is they’re there just to give the film an opening and closure.

It may have been charming and partially funny the first time, but now these films are a frustrating, repetitive, unfunny, awkward and boring experience.

Eureka

 

Say what you will, for fans of these screwball often lewd comedy films, the new transfer and bonus features is a treat compared to the alternate DVD / VHS releases. The features are brand new, crisp and add a great new look at the making of all three films and some comedic antics behind the scenes.

  • Limited Edition O-Card slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling
  • Limited Edition collectors booklet
  • All three films presented in 1080p on Blu-ray from brand new 4K restorations, including the alternate extended Taiwanese version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars
  • Cantonese audio tracks (original mono presentations)
  • Optional English dubbed audio tracks for all films
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Brand new feature length audio commentaries on all three films by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival)

Winners and Sinners

  • Archival interview with director and star Sammo Hung (6 mins)
  • Winners and Sinners Archival interview with director and star Sammo Hung (13 mins)
  • Winners and Sinners Sammo Hung retrospective featuring interviews with friends of the legendary director, actor, and action choreographer
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Outtakes
  • Trailer

My Lucky Stars

  • Archival interview with Michiko Nishiwaki
  • Archival interview with Sammo Hung
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Outtakes
  • Trailer

Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars

  • Archival interview with Richard Ng
  • Archival interview with Richard Norton
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Outtakes
  • Trailer

The Lucky Stars 3-Film Collection from Eureka Classics is available on Blu-ray from 22nd March

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