Naughty Boys (HK 1986)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/24/22
Producer: Jackie Chan
Director: Wellson Chin
Cast: Mars, Carina Lau, Wei Ying Hung, Clarence Fok, Phillip Ko, Tai-Bo, Billy Lau, Ken Lo, cameos by Jackie Chan, Fung Shui-Fan, Ricky Hui, Charlie Cho

Sheng (Mars) has just gotten out of jail and immediately attempts to recover a cache of stolen diamonds from an earlier heist. Unfortunately, someone else got to it first, and now Sheng's partners think he took the diamonds for himself. Forced into hiding, Sheng tries to leave the country with some money that his cousin Chuen (Wei Ying Hung) gives him, but the tourist agency is a scam and rips him off. Meanwhile, private investigator Bonnie (Carina Lau) is keeping an eye on Sheng and feigning interest in him, causing Sheng to foolishly fall in love with her. As Sheng's pals get more desperate and violent to recover the gems, Sheng, Chuen, Bonnie, Leung the travel agent (Clarence Fok), and private investigator Billy Lau hatch a crazy plan to get back at the real villains, which results in a spectacular warehouse fight.

Jackie Chan produced a number of these ensemble kung fu comedies in the 80's and they're all very similar. He's also listed prominently in the cast, even though he's only on-screen for literally two seconds. For all intents and purposes, this is a star vehicle for frequent Chan collaborator and fellow stuntman Mars, who tries as hard as he can to emulate Chan's charm and style as a luckless loser, but it's not the breakout film he was probably hoping for. This is made worse by the typically deplorable comedy that's prevalent in Hong Kong cinema, which fails to make him an endearing and likable character. The humor really is awful and focuses on slapstick pratfalls, blind gags, demeaning sexist jokes, rape humor, and Billy Lau leering lecherously at Carina Lau's chest and any other breasts that happen to be present. There's also a constant undercurrent of misogyny, as was often the case in these "boys club" type movies.

However, the action is top-notch and features some excellent fight choreography and some very painful looking falls. This is where Mars really shines, and the Jackie Chan Stunt Team puts on a fabulous show. Even though Wei Ying Hung plays a timid girl who bears a lot of ridicule and abuse, she explodes into a powerhouse of female fury towards the end with 2-3 excellent fight scenes. Phillip Ko also delivers some great chops as a cunning villain. Unfortunately, Carina Lau is relegated to being a thankless sex object and is the target of the film's rude and lewd humor. Even though her character is supposed to be an accomplished gymnast, she's not an action actress and she is heavily doubled during the film's more complex scenes. The 80's were an explosion of creative activity in Hong Kong cinema, and if you're a fan of Jackie Chan's particular brand of kinetic action comedy, "Naughty Boys" might be worth checking out. However, the tiresome and tasteless humor will likely turn people off and keeps the film from achieving real greatness.