Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars (1985)

l_90342_681fc4f9Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars [夏日福星] (1985)
AKA Seven Lucky Stars, The Target, My Lucky Stars 2: Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars, Winners & Sinners 3, Powerman II

Starring Sammo Hung, Richard Ng, Stanley Fung Sui-Fan, Michael Miu Kiu-Wai, Eric Tsang, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Sibelle Hu Hui-Zhong, John Shum Kin-Fun, Rosamund Kwan, Andy Lau, Yasuaki Kurata, Richard Norton, Chung Fat, Wu Ma, Melvin Wong

Directed by Sammo Hung

Expectations: More fun.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

But the action is:
fourstar


Like the other Lucky Stars films, Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars is more comedy than action film. So when a healthy amount of the comedy is rehashed from My Lucky Stars, it feels like a lesser film compared to its predecessors (even when the film’s action is some of the best that Hong Kong has ever cranked out). Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars does have its comedic moments, they’re just more sparse than I’ve come to expect from these films. My biggest laugh came right before the end credits, too, so instead of rollicking along it feels more like it ambles between action scenes and then rises sharply to the occasion at the end. And yes, I do mean that erection pun, because if we know anything about the Lucky Stars it’s that they’re always horny and looking for action.

This one starts off rather tamely, as the Lucky Stars are off to vacation in Thailand. Charlie Chin decides to stay home for some reason, so he sends his brother (Michael Miu Kiu-Wai) in his place, but he doesn’t really do much and just kinda blends into the crowd. Anyway, everyone else from My Lucky Stars is back, and even John Shum, one of the main cast in Winners and Sinners, gets a fairly large supporting role. But what are they doing? If you guessed, “Trying to score with women, and by score I mean, figure out a way to grope women where it seems nonchalant and perfectly normal” than you get the gold star! But this time they’re at a beach resort in Thailand, so the backdrop is bright, fun-filled and sunny.

TwinkleTwinkleLuckyStars_5This leads to a few good jokes, and a great Wu Ma cameo as a Thai black magic soothsayer, but what quickly becomes apparent is that there is no story at all. Previous films established a bit of a framework before unleashing the Lucky Stars on the nearby woman, but this time — I guess because we all know who they are and what their game is — it’s straight to the lechery. What makes this bearable is that the characters are fun to watch as they play off of each other in a Three Stooges kinda way, presuming you like that sort of thing. Our first hint of a story comes about 20 minutes in, when Inspector Woo (Sibelle Hu Hui-Zhong) receives a request from her boss to get some information from an informant. Unfortunately, a trio of badass assassins (Yasuaki Kurata, Richard Norton and Chung Fat) get to him first, making their attempt on the informant’s life while all four of them are parasailing. And they’re armed with Uzis and a bazooka. I love ’80s Hong Kong.

TwinkleTwinkleLuckyStars_7Eventually, this takes everyone back to Hong Kong because they need to intercept a letter than the parasailing informant sent back home. But none of this matters at all. It’s all a ruse to place a woman other than Inspector Woo in the house of the Lucky Stars, so they can redo the whole “We’re going to save you from the robbers fire (and grope you)” shtick. It’s all filmed in the same house/sets, too, so it feels especially familiar, even more so because I just watched My Lucky Stars not too long ago. There are some variations to the formula here and there, and this time around it feels less abusive and more lighthearted, but it’s still the same old thing that wasn’t THAT funny to begin with, but now Rosamund Kwan is the object of desire.

TwinkleTwinkleLuckyStars_6While the comedy balances between tired rehash and situations that feel like rejected ideas from the earlier films, the action is an entirely different story. What’s on display here is flat-out legendary. There’s a reason why I didn’t remember much of this movie other than the fights (specifically the end battle), even though I saw it multiple times in my teenage years, and it’s that the action is insanely good. Even if you’ve never seen the film, you’ve probably seen clips of it featured in documentaries or YouTube compilations, or however else you might come across something like this, because the end fight is straight-from-the-source, uncut dope.

TwinkleTwinkleLuckyStars_10Like previous films featuring the Three Brothers (or Three Dragons), they are each engaged in a solo battle that would otherwise be the “final fight” if they were the only star of the film. But they aren’t, so there’s three fights happening concurrently! Yasuaki Kurata vs. Jackie Chan was especially momentous to me because of Kurata’s place in the films I’ve reviewed over the last year or so in the Shaw Brothers series (he debuted on Hong Kong screens in Chang Cheh’s 1972 film The Angry Guest). Sammo Hung vs. Richard Norton was the one I always rewound and watched again and again as a teen. Yuen Biao vs. Chung Fat was the one I didn’t really remember, so it was probably the most surprising and impressive to me this time around. Yuen gets in some of the best and most athletic kicks I’ve ever seen from him (and he’s a damn good kicker in all of his films). And then it all culminates in the Kurata vs. Sammo fight where Sammo arms himself with tennis rackets to deflect Kurata’s sai. Pure bliss on-screen.

TwinkleTwinkleLuckyStars_1The film’s earlier moments of action aren’t slouching, either. Sammo’s fight with the women is great fun, as it adds a whole new level of “Oh shit!” when the ones taking the hits and the nasty falls are women. And if you’re looking for the “Sammo punches a girl in the vagina” movie, this is it. Later we get Jackie, Yuen Biao and Andy Lau assaulting a drug warehouse that’s also housing a few truckloads of conveniently placed Pepsi bottles. Stunning choreography shines through, and here the Jackie we think of when we think of the quintessential Jackie Chan fight is really starting to shine through. He’s using his surroundings to aid the fight A LOT, and every time he did a cool wall jump that led to a jump kick, or grabbed a nearby random object I giggled with the frenzied glee of an eight-year-old who just finished off a bag of Kool Aid & sugar.

TwinkleTwinkleLuckyStars_11Looking at the overall film, Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars may be the weakest link in the Lucky Stars films because its comedy is slightly flaccid in comparison, but the stuff-of-dreams action more than makes up for it. If you dig on the kinds of things that ’80s Hong Kong was slingin’— and if you don’t, I’m sorry for you 🙂 — than you should definitely seek out Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars and enjoy. You might not laugh at the jokes, but you will laugh at how insanely awesome the action is.

And there’s a ton of cameos from Hong Kong stars like Michelle Yeoh, David Chiang, Wu Ma, Moon Lee, Sandra Ng, Kara Hui, James Tin Jun, Dick Wei, Wong Jing, Philip Ko Fei, Chin Siu-Ho, Leung Kar-Yan, etc, etc. Don’t miss it.

Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Jackie Chan is another of Jackie’s failed attempts at breaking into the US market, The Protector! See ya then!

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