From Beijing with Love

Dir: Lik-Chi Lee and Stephen Chow
Long said to one of Chow’s best, I finally found a copy of “From Beijing with Love”
at one of Chia-yi’s CD stores for about three bucks. Here Chow plays a pork butcher who has been waiting years and years for an assignment from China’s spy agency, despite having a large red “rejected” stamp in his files. Yet, as we see, he’s a dab hand with his curved meat cleaver, which he keeps in a holster. The film is–obviously–a parody of James Bond, with a Jaws-like villain, a sequence of useless spy goods (a solar powered flashlight), and a femme fatale, played here by dewy-eyed Anita Yuen.
There’s a disturbing mix of violence and comedy here that keeps it off my top list, with a father being gunned down in front of his young son in a shopping mall, and it’s missing “Uncle Nat,” but there’s still lots of good jokes: The springboard “Magic Box” which shoots Chow off in all sorts of wrong directions (the best gag from this sequence, though, is in the closing blooper reel), and a scene where a wounded Chow watches a porno tape, hoping the diverted blood flow to his erection with stop the bleeding. (Eagle-eyed porn hounds will notice the star briefly glimpsed is–I believe–Traci Lords.) In a way, the serious turns the film takes are a test run for the more successful mixture in God of Cookery. And Chow’s character, as usual, knows more than he lets on, which allows him to play fool and hero at the same time.

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