Welcome back dear readers to what has rather unexpectedly become “Her Fatal Ways” week here at ThingsFallApart. Still struggling with the subtitling on the second film, I decided to dive straight on in to the 4th film in the series – albeit with lowered expectations. It seems that an attempt to continue the franchise Do Do-less with “His Fatal Ways” was an unmitigated failure, so the gang have been put back together to see if there is life in the old dog yet.
Sadly, “Her Fatal Ways 4” doesn’t quite hit the mark. Mostly because it makes little sense on any level. For some illogical reason Cheng Shih-Nan (Carol ‘Do Do’ Cheng) has relocated to Hong Kong. This doesn’t really scan with her attitude in previous films (and lets face it, this is no more than a year or two after the third film). But still it does enable us to enjoy more ‘fish-out-of-water” set pieces for the first half of the movie. She and her Nephew are struggling to adapt to the culture, and the demand to be conversant in English. Nepotism eventually gives her a job running a security firm, and she gains a dose of confidence. She meets an English man in the apartment above hers, and a little romance blossoms.
And then the film really starts to lose consistency. I am really not that sure what the story behind the second half of the film is. It seems that she is being set up by the Hong Kong Police in order to gain influence on her Uncle, once 1997 comes along. Except there are also a bunch of mainland criminals that are also involved in a kidnap attempt on her Cousin (and the General’s daughter, Sandra Ng). Nothing makes much sense at all – and I am pretty sure it is not because of the awful subtitles (and I know they are awful, as even the English spoken in the film – of which there is a fair bit – is translated pretty miserably). Somewhere, there is a good idea, but the execution is woeful.
That’s not to say the film is utterly without merit. Again there are a number of very funny set pieces – always involving Do Do. But this is like some kind of parallel universe version of the character. The physical comedy is still top notch, and her way of delivering a withering line is still there, but I can’t shake the feeling that this isn’t the Shih-Nan I have come to adore.
In fact it is noticeable that for a large chunk of the film, she isn’t even around at all, checking in with some utterly charmless supporting characters. There is also a lot of failed jokes, mostly around nationality. Michael Miller is the English love interest – although he seems to spend a long time telling everyone he is Scottish. But the actor himself – he is actually Australian. This in a nutshell gives you an idea about what is wrong with the film.
It also actually has a couple of decent action sequences – nothing special, but they do give the movie a lift which at times it badly needed.
Yet, still I liked it. I could laugh for hours at Do Do’s comedy singing, and her knowing way of mangling language. She brings a class to proceedings that possibly the film does not deserve. I’m glad however that I did watch the films out of order, as if I had watched this last it might have soured my memories.