Well, you can’t deny that the reviewing staff here at ThingsFallApart (i.e. Me) are nothing if not idiosyncratic. After being seduced by the genius of “Her Fatal Ways”, I decided to check out the other 3 films in the franchise, but not for me the usual route of watching them in sequence. No, I thought I would start with number 3, and then go back to the second film later (actually, to be brutally honest, it was more to do with the different formats I was able to get the films in, and complexities in converting them to the iPad, but to blame myself rather than the technology seemed far more interesting).
So, what does the “Her Fatal Ways 3” give us? To be honest, more of the same really – Shih-Nan (Carol ‘Do Do’ Cheng) and her assistant Hsaio-Sheng (Alfred Cheung – whom I shamefully neglected to mention is also the director of all the films in the franchise) are sent back to Hong Kong (via an accidental foray into Taiwan) to oversee security for a visit by a mainland Chinese official.
So once again we get a series of vignettes, poking fun at the differences between the Mainland and Hong Kong (with the added opportunity to bring in the Taiwanese situation), in that same even handed way that the first film managed things, except 1997 is a couple of years closer now.
I’ll be a little controversial now. This is actually joke for joke funnier than the original. Sure it helps that we are playing with a well defined world here, but some of the scenes are side-splitting, even to an outsider like me. Want to see the most awful display of Karaoke ever, by two people acting utterly ignorant of just how bad they are? Want to see Shih-Nan in a bikini – worn over the top of her street clothes? Maybe you are interested in seeing an early-ish performance by Anthony Wong, replete with Mullet, trying not to laugh out loud at the antics on display? This film has all that. And more. I could go on listing them all – but I don’t think I have seen a better telepathy scene done comically before.
The film does fall prey to occasionally lacking in scene-by-scene logic, sometimes being a set of amusing set-pieces that don’t necessarily follow on. But I think that may be a feature of Hong Kong cinema in general, so I am going to let it slide.
Sadly the subtitles do lack once again, not just in the translation, but I am sure several of the jokes make much more sense when performed in Chinese – this is always the case with wordplay.
It does lack that nice emotional moment that we got at the end of the original, although it is mentioned in a nice meta-way in the final scene. I also very much enjoyed the scene where the Chinese Official is petitioned by the political arm of the Hong Kong Police, desperately asking for their current job not to be held against them post 1997. Once again, the film manages to not demonise the mainlanders (although you could argue that this is weak from the director – I prefer to think of it as an open and honest hope).
Most of all though, this is just confirming that finally I have found something new in Hong Kong cinema – a comedy actress that I find truly funny. Many more Do Do Cheng films will be consumed by this reviewer.