Book of Heroes

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“Double-you Tee Eff?”

bookifheroesThe ranking here would probably be at least half a star higher, if I had the slightest freakin’ clue what’s going on here. For this has truly the worst subtitling I’ve seen in a quarter century of watching Hong Kong action films, with text that is entirely illegible more often than not. You’re left trying to piece together the plot, based on fragments of sentences and on-screen action, which significantly subtracts from the entertainment value. Good thing we have the Internet, and can turn to that for a coherent synopsis of proceedings, that will shine some light on who was doing what to whom, and why.

Having learned that the underworld society smuggled a batch of gold, the police authority sent Hu Pai and so on to watch and arrest. But unexpectedly it’s robbed by the 5th Rat of another gang. Therefore, Hu Pai was demoted as a traffic policeman. Hu Pai’s girl friend Little Wild Cat intended to join Royal Police but didn’t know how to get in, and so handled cases often in the name of Hu Pai. One day, when she met the youngest of Five Rats and was ready to arrest him, but was stopped by Risking San Niang. The second boss of Five Rats and Lawyer contrarily accused Little Wild Cat for pretending to be police. The 5th Rat wanted to sell the robbed gold to the 1st boss, but the latter took possession of it and sent Black Baboon to kill the 5th Rat. Before dying, the 5th Rat said “gold drawing, elder sister, fire” Little Wild Cat and Hu Pai started to investigate the 5th Rat’s sister Ever Changing Fox. Fox and her partner Smiling Tiger held the picture of hiding gold. The 1st boss, for the gold, started a chasing fight with Fox, Smiling Tiger and Stupid Rat. They used tricks one another with being extremely ridiculous.

bookofheroes2Well, crap. I was following that, right up to “batch of gold”.

Let me translate and summarize the summary of this Taiwanese action-comedy. What matters, is really that a shipment of smuggled gold has gone missing: the bad guys  led by Yamashita (Kurata) and his top enforcer (Oshima) want it, the police want to stop them, led by the plucky but largely incompetent Hu Pai (Gua Hu) and his cop wannabe girlfriend, Little Wild Cat (Hsin-chuen Lan). There’s also a couple of confidence tricksters – Ever Changing Fox (Yeung) and Smiling Tiger (Tao), if you’re keeping score – who end up collaborating with the cops to that end, though they have their own agenda in mind. Wacky hi-jinks ensue. Fortunately, so does a lot of action. Yeung has been seen here before, in Challenge of the Lady Ninja, Golden Queens Commando and Pink Force Commando, while Oshima’s credentials shouldn’t even need mentioning. Suffice it to say, asses are kicked in some volume, though the undercranking used to speed up the fight scenes is sometimes painfully obvious, and hardly necessary.

But there’s enough good here to balance out the negative aspects. Just don’t make the mistake of bothering to care about the storyline or the characters; in fact, you might as well save yourself a lot of time and just watch the fight compilation embedded below. All of the violence, none of the goofy (and largely unamusing) attempts at comedy, and a good hour saved for you to do something more worthwhile instead. You’re welcome!

Dir: Chu Yen Ping
Star: David Tao, Elsa Yeung, Yasuaki Kurata, Yukari Oshima

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