The Lucky Stars Collection (15)| Home Ents Review

Dir. Sammo Hung, Hong Kong, 1983-1985, 312 mins total, English and Cantonese audio options with subtitles

Cast: Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Richard Ng, Charlie Chin, Stanley Sui-Fan Fung, John Sham, Cherie Chung, Eric Tsung, Sibelle Hu

Review by Colin Dibben

Winners and Sinners/ My Lucky Stars/ Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars

This enjoyable if un-PC trio of 1980s Hong Kong martial arts action comedies showcases some great fights from Jackie and Sammo. The pervy male comedy is desperately funny too – in the slapstick manner – as well as giving revealing insight into popular HK-style comedy.

The films tell the ongoing story of five guys who set up a cleaning company, Lucky Stars, after they get out of prison.

In Winners and Sinners, Teapot (Hung) and his new comrades, including Curly (Sham), Exhaust Pipe (Ng) and Vaseline (Chin) get involved in a counterfeit money conspiracy that is being investigated by detective CID07 (Chan). They are also rather taken – well, four of them – by Curly’s sister Shirley (Chung).

There is a great slapstick sequence in which Exhaust Pipe thinks he is invisible and parades round their shared house naked, while his chums pretend that he is in fact naked. So far, so universal humour. But then Exhaust Pipe takes it into his head to invade the bathroom when Shirley is taking a bath. It’s desperately funny, in my opinion, but there are also disturbing undercurrents of voyeurism and non-consensual sexual behaviour.

There is a similar gag in the second film, My Lucky Stars, in which the five all fancy the female chief inspector (Hu) and fake five robberies – one right after the other – so that each one can be tied up with her. It’s funny, but slightly pervy.

Winners and Sinners includes one of the great Jackie Chan stunts, where he rollerskates under an HGV. Despite the clunky two-shot, it is a remarkable feat.

In My Lucky Stars, Jackie’s policeman is investigating bad guys in Japan and needs the gang’s help. It’s interesting to see instances of casual stereotyping of Japanese culture by HK Chinese. The fights are great, including a surreal finale in a fairground arcade, which features the striking martial artist Michiko Nishiwaki.

The third film, Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars, sees the chaps kicking back in Thailand when a senior HK policeman is murdered. Once again, cop Muscles (Chan) needs their assistance.

It is notable that the action and the comedy in each film are highly compartmentalised: the band of pervs doesn’t spend much on-screen time with Jackie; and Jackie plays it pretty straight, letting the guys get on with providing laughs.

The five members of Lucky Stars are all well-differentiated and more or less likable. Sammo Hung exudes both vulnerability and strength, while Curly’s shouty political leanings see him motor-mouthing at every inopportune moment. Richard Ng is great too as the desperate pervert with bug eyes.

All three films were big box-office successes back in the mid-80s. You can see why, even if the sexual politics won’t float everyone’s boat.

All three films are presented in 1080p from brand new restorations: Winners and Sinners and Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars at 4K and My Lucky Stars at 2K.

There’s a host of extras, including an extended cut of Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars:

  • 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 (20 mins) |
  • My Lucky Stars – Archival interview with Michiko Nishiwaki (20 mins) | My Lucky Stars – Archival interview with Sammo Hung (18 mins) | Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars – Archival interview with Richard Norton (33 mins) |
  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Lucky Stars – Archival interview with Richard Ng (21 mins) | Behind-the-scenes featurettes on all three films originally produced for their Japanese releases |
  • Outtakes, NG (“No Good!”) shots for all three films | Trailers for all three films | Limited-Edition Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing by James Oliver (First Print Run of 2000 Copies Only)

Trailer:

The Lucky Stars Collection is out on Blu-ray on 22 March.