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Original Title:
Daai laap mat taam 008

Hong Kong 1996

Comedy, Action

Stephen Chow
Vincent Kok

Stephen Chow
Carina Lau
Carman Lee
Cheung Tat-Ming
Vincent Kok
Alvina Kong
Tats Lau
Yuen Shun-Yee

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Forbidden City Cop

Story: Ling Ling Fat (Stephen Chow) is one of the four bodyguards of the emporer (Cheung Tat-Ming). Contrary to his three colleagues, however, he isn't skilled in Kung Fu, but he is an inventor. Released of his duty, because the emporer can't take any of his useless inventions anymore, Fat is forced to work as a gynecologist again. When Fat finds out that all physicians of the country are called together, but he somehow didn't get an invitation, he just decides to attend the meeting with his wife (Carina Lau) on his own initiative.
The called meeting proves to be an ambush by a demoniac villian and the three bodyguards of the emporer die. Ling Ling Fat actually manages with the aid of his inventions to drive off the demon and hence is highly regarded by the emporer. The emporer now charges Fat with a new mission, because the next complot of the demon surely isn't a long time in the coming.

Review: "Forbidden City Cop" is drop-dead funny! Nevertheless, it's also a matter of: do you like Stephen Chow's humor or not? If the answer is yes, then you really will be able to appreciate this film. Here we get nonsense nonstop just like in the american equivalent "The Naked Gun". From your typical wuxia movie like "A Chinese Ghost Story" to James Bond - it all gets its come-uppance.

Even at the beginning when four mighty warriors want to fight each other in an epic duel on the rooftops of the Forbidden City in a foggy moonlit night, we get an idea of what we are going to see the next 89 minutes. Because after this very athmospheric opening Ling Ling Fat enters the picture and wants to arrest the four warriors. We now also get a closer look at the four warriors' faces and these at the first glance impressive characters prove to be no young and good-looking heroes like we get to see them in so many movies, but instead they look incredibly ridiculous. What follows is the credits which also makes fun of the James Bond series and it's the same Bond that is the movie's main thread. After all, our hero goes by the name Ling Ling Fat, which means "008" and his inventions not by accident remind us of Q's gadgets.

As not to be expected otherwise from a Stephen Chow-Film, "Forbidden City Cop" sometimes is a bit loony, delivers lots of slapstick humor, which works out pretty well most of the time, while at others it doesn't. Still, above all else the movie provides us with many well-wrought jokes, that most likely will make you forget to breathe. There is also some play of words that can only be appreciated by cantonese-speaking audiences, but for everyone else Stephen Chow delivers enough great wacky facial expressions and gestures to laugh about.

Naturally, costume-Kung-Fu-flicks are made fun of primarily. But apart from that there is also some more offbeat stuff. We get fights with magnets, cooker hoods, human helicopters, Fat and his wife wrestle each other, Oscar-like prize awards are being held or the "Flying Fairy" that fell from the sky turns out to be an alien, which is going to be dissected fully in Roswell-autopsy-video style. Total nonsense, which still is somewhat refreshingly unusual and just serves us as a fun-ride. So who cares that the story is sometimes rather confusing and just functions as a small framework for Chow's joke playground.
Although the movie's flow falters at times, there is never anything like boredom and the next good joke always kicks in when you expect it the least. That's how a comedy is supposed to be!

Stephen Chow once again delivers an over-the-top performance, even though not as a serious actor, but at least he refrains to portray the typical idiot and instead takes on the role of a likeable inventor. At his side Carina Lau doesn't only look gorgeous, but also creates a great chemistry between her and Chow.
The sets and costumes are as convincing as the solid directing and nicely choreographed action scenes are. Stephen Chow shows that he has a keen eye for details, which bestows the necessary amount of colorfulness upon the movie.

"Forbidden City Cop" is a great, entertaining and sometimes drop-dead funny comedy, that shouldn't be missed by any comedy-fan. This is one of the best Chow-comedies, for sure!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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