Operation Lipstick (HK 1967)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/8/17
Cast: Cheng Pei Pei, Paul Chang, Tien Feng

A disappointingly silly crime caper film starring the lovely Cheng Pei Pei as a woman caught in a web of mystery and murder. A ruthless criminal organization kills a group of scientists to get their hands on a precious roll of microfilm, only to lose it to a common pickpocket. The petty thief turns to his sister Li Bing (Cheng Pei Pei) for help, and the two of them end up playing cat-and-mouse with another thief named Chang Yi (Paul Chang). Li Bing and Chang Yi eventually form an uneasy alliance to outwit the bad guys and return the microfilm to the authorities, and an awkward and unconvincing romance forms between them.

This film is not at all what I was expecting, and is more of a romantic comedy than anything. Cheng Pei Pei is utterly adorable as a playfully coquettish singer and dancer, but her action scenes are weak and her annoyingly prim character falls victim to an overly sexist screenplay. Paul Chang's suave and sleazy playboy routine is tiresome and not particularly effective, and it's obvious that the filmmakers were trying to capitalize on his charm rather than Cheng Pei Pei's star power. Lots of familiar Shaw Brothers faces show up in this farce, but the film fails to generate any excitement or rewards.