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The Asian Aperture97 Aces Go Places
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, September 5, 2011    Share

Beginning in 1983, the first Aces Go Places, was a hilarious spy caper comedy that parodied the genre Hong Kong style. It was followed by a series of movies that remind one of the Naked Gun movies. Aces Go Places 5 came out in 1989 and the series was finished until 1997 and another movie came out.

97 Aces Go Places has the top star, Tony Leung, (Chungking Express, In The Mood for Love,) as a gunshooter who only shots well when intoxicated. This is a brilliant riff on Jackie Chan's Drunken Master (1978) and Legend of Drunken Master (1994.) A few scenes in Aces Go Places directly parody scenes from both Chan movies. Another idea borrowed from Jackie Chan is the bloopers played during the end credits.

The sexy Christy Chung plays Lei Lai-Shan, a woman with a vengeance against Triad criminal activities, who prefers to outsmart the crooks with a big smile on her face as she leaves frustrated gangsters cursing and thwart. This in evident during the first scene when Lei sells a fake painting to the Triad and takes off with a briefcase stuffed with cash. She uses her kung fu skills to knock out several thugs and then jumps into her car for a high speed chase through Kowloon. When her car crashes, her chair ejects up in the air as a parachute opens up and Lei flies away laughing at the pain of her pursuers in true James Bond fashion.

The basic premise of Aces Go Places is simple. The nerdy Ho Sik, (Alan Tam,) is at the reading of the will following his father's death. The two main clauses to the will that he must follow is to take over his father's position as head of the Triad and second, to kill the woman, using a gun, who killed his father. That is all the audience needs to know. The rest of the movie is all about the characters and several comedy skits knitted together to pad out a movie. The same way that Mike Myers padded out Wayne's World for two movies.

In order to accomplish his second goal, Ho Sik must first learn how to shoot. Sik's mother hires Chui Cheong, (Leung,) the drunken gun expert. Between gulps of booze, Chui instructs Ho Sik on how to clean a gun, take it apart and put it back together, and most importantly, how to shoot at a target like a pro.

The real fun of Aces Go Places begins when Chui Cheong and Ho Sik set out to assassinate the sexy Lei. Everytime Ho gets a clear shot at Lei, he is overcome by her beauty and cannot pull the trigger. Each time he fails he is scolded by Chui who explains that if he hurries up and shoots her then they
can return home and Chui will get a long vacation. To Chui's frustration, Ho and Lei hit it off well and begin dating. Now there is no way for Ho to avenge his father. In another humorous take on 90's HK action, Lei is the fighter who defends Ho Sik. Ho just cannot fight at all. He needs Lei in his life to complete him. Otherwise he would just get beat down in every scuffle.

Finally, instead of killing Lei, Ho Sik, Chui Cheong, Lei, and Lei's sister, who is mentally handicapped, join forces to attack the rival Triad gang that is making trouble for Ho Sik's Triad gang. It is at this point that Aces Go Places descends into standard Hong Kong 90's action cliches. The viewer expects the end fight and the choreography just isn't that exciting. The main strength is knowing the characters and the different personalities involved and the jokes used whenever people clash. The weakness is following the same old fighting techniques and not coming up with anything new. Although gun expert, Chui pulls off some entertaining parodies of Chow Yun Fat, from several different John Woo movies, and Lei looks good punching and kicking thugs around, neither one is really doing anything amazing.

The main problem with 97 Aces Go Places is the fact that it was made years after the last movie. The first movie made better use of parody and slapstick together with the result being that 97 Aces Go Places is something movie audiences have seen over and over again from the series. In much the same way that the jokes go stale in Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow. Sometimes the best idea is to leave a series in the 80's and just allow it to end after all the sequels have played out.

I would only recommend 97 Aces Go Places if you have not seen any of the other movies. My advice is to seek out the earlier ones.

2.5 out of 5 due to lack of creativity and ideas despite some funny moments.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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