From Beijing With Love (HK 1994)

Rating: ***
Cast: Stephen Chow, Anita Yuen, cameos by Pauline Chan and Yu Rong Guang

Quite honestly, I was surprised. Stephen Chow turns in a restrained performance in this quirky James Bond spoof. A national treasure of China, a giant dinosaur skull, is stolen by "the man with a golden gun" and pork vender spy-on-the-side Stephen Chow is assigned to track it down. Unfortunately for him, his boss is the evil villain behind the whole thing and he sends his adopted daughter (Anita Yuen) out to kill Chow. She reluctantly starts falling for his good intentions and innocent bumbling, and eventually ends up helping him. Everyone but Chow plays it completely straight in this film, and he's more of a clumsy, but lucky, idiot than anything. Not overly funny (but it has its moments), but at least it never gets downright stupid and intolerable like so many other Hong Kong comedies do. Surprisingly bloody and graphically brutal scenes play side by side with deadpan comedy, which is interesting to see. Pauline Chan with a gun is wonderful, and Anita Yuen is pretty tough with a gun as well. Unfortunately, she's just a little too butch and plain looking to be really exciting, but she still does a great job.