Winners and Sinners (1983)

Posted in Reviews by - August 07, 2016
Winners and Sinners (1983)

A thoroughly silly, crowd-pleasing action comedy from Sammo Hung. This was Golden Harvest’s answer to Cinema City’s popular Bond spoof Aces Go Places, with Sammo embellishing on the bumbling crime-fighting formula by including some blistering stunt and fight sequences. In a nod to the British ‘Carry On’ series, Sammo assembles an instantly likable group of top comedic talent to form his immature, eccentric Lucky Stars gang. There’s the loudmouth Curly (John Shum), the pervert Exhaust Pipe (Richard Ng), the smoothie Vaseline (Charlie Chin), the parental Larry (Stanley Fung) and the bashful Teapot (Sammo Hung). They’re all idiots, released from prison and decamping en masse at Curly’s place where they drink beer, form a cleaning company, and ogle Curly’s sister (Cherie Chung). Some of their attempts take up large portions of the running time, like an invisible man routine in which Richard Ng strips down to his birthday suit to sneak up on her in the bathtub. If that gag doesn’t land, don’t worry, because there will be another one just around the corner. It’s all quite harmless, childish stuff performed by an ensemble of Hong Kong’s finest character actors.

As Teapot, the rotund Sammo is both the vulnerable star and the butt of the joke, happy to lark about in a spandex onesie or a sailor’s suit. But he is also the only fighter in the group and therefore becomes their default leader. A stockpiling of cameos add to the film’s reckless enjoyment, not least from Jackie Chan, who is provided with two of film’s best action scenes. One of which is an adrenaline-fuelled chase on rollerskates which sees Chan clinging onto speeding cars in what feels like a warm up to his double-decker bus routine in Police Story. The sequence culminates in an extraordinary, and hilarious, multi-car pile-up. Other nice cameos include Wu Ma as a postman, Ann Hui as a waitress, Walter Tso as a Wong Fei-hung type street performer, and a special walk-on from both Moon Lee and Yuen Biao, who play a couple in a street scene who end up in an all-too-brief scuffle with Jackie Chan. James Tien plays the cigar-chomping Godfather-like mafioso figure producing counterfeit dollar bills with the back-up of Sammo’s wonderful stunt team, including the likes of Lam Ching-ying, Dick Wei, Peter Chan Lung, Chung Fat, Fung Hark-on, Tai Bo and so on. They all get to go ballistic in a fantastic kung fu frenzy at the boss’ mansion and then in a warehouse. It’s a film littered with truly memorable moments, but it was the sequel, 1985’s My Lucky Stars, which would prove more successful at the box office. This film, and later Project A, would signal an ever-lasting shift for kung fu action into more believable contemporary environments, and sparked further collaborations between the so-called Three Dragons (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao) which would continue throughout the 1980s.

AKA: Five Lucky Stars; The 5 Lucky Stars; Winners & Sinners.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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