With Solid Action and Corny Humour, ‘My Lucky Stars’ Is a Classic Gem of 80s Action Flicks
This is an early onscreen collaboration of Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao. Muscles (Chan) and Ricky (Biao) are two cops who go after a corrupt cop with ties to the Japanese underworld. When Ricky is kidnapped, Kidstuff (Hung), a childhood friend of Muscles, recruits some of their old orphanage friends, now small-time criminals, and this unlikely group goes to the aid of the cops to fight the mob.
Director: Sammo Hung
Cast: Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Sibelle Hu, Richard Ng, Eric Tsang, Stanley Fung, Charlie Chin
Country: Hong Kong
Runtime: 96 minutes
In 1981, comedian Michael Hui wrote and directed what would then be considered the first modern Chinese New Year film, Security Unlimited. While the concept of Chinese New Year films had already been around before 1981, the success of Security Unlimited raised the bars and made it clear that there was a huge market for comedies during the festive season.
Some of the classic Chinese New Year films made during the 80s include the Aces Go Places series, the Winners and Sinners series and the All’s Well, Ends Well series. In 1985, the second film in the Winners and Sinners series, My Lucky Stars 福星高照, became the first film in Hong Kong to pass the HK $30 million mark in its box office.
Muscles (Jackie Chan) and Ricky (Yuen Biao) are two police officers who are after a corrupt cop in Japan. But when Ricky is kidnapped, Muscles turns to his childhood friend Kidstuff (Sammo Hung), a small time criminal, for help. Kidstuff then recruits his friends, four petty criminals to help with the investigation. My Lucky Stars reunites Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, three important figures in contemporary action comedies, in a sequel for the 1983 film Winners and Sinners. Luckily, My Lucky Stars doesn’t follow the story of the first film, so no previous knowledge of the series is required to understand the film.
Full of laughs and fast rhythmic fights, including a really cool car stunt in the beginning, My Lucky Stars is an enjoyable film that delivers on both action and comedy. Trained in Peking Opera and acrobatics, Hung, Chan and Yuen are spectacular in their physical performances as usual. Especially Hung, who always manages to surprise me with his speed and agility despite his large size. The stunts and action are delicately choreographed with a distinctive musical rhythm that makes each fight feel organic. Filmed with steady long shots, the stunts and actions are crisp and clear, allowing audiences to see everything happening in the scene.
While the film is mainly marketed as a Jackie Chan film, Chan only appears in a few scenes of the film with little screen time, and Yuen appears even lesser. The main leads of the film are the gang of five petty criminals, known more commonly to audiences as the Five Lucky Stars, led by Sammo Hung. The gang is in charge of the comedy of the film and boy, do they deliver. Full of nonsensical jokes and corny humour, the members are misfits who pull practical jokes on each other all the time, the highlight of the film being their chemistry and constant banter.
The funniest of the gang would have to be Sandy, played by Richard Ng, who believes he has psychic abilities. This becomes a running gag throughout the film as he tries to hypnotise people into doing his bidding, which ends hilariously. His introduction is probably my favourite moment of the film, which involves him and a duck in a mental hospital. Some of the jokes in the film are really dumb, so if you are a fan of such comedy, you will definitely be entertained by this film.
Despite being billed as an action comedy, My Lucky Stars suffers from tonal inconsistency, with the action and comedy moments feeling like parts of separate films. In fact, Chan and Yuen’s characters never meet the gang until the ending, and only Hung interacts with Chan throughout the film. Some of the jokes in the film also go a little too long, which causes the pacing to slow a little in the middle.
But if you’re able to sit through the slower moments, you will be rewarded with an exciting third act which features breath stopping fights in a wonderfully designed funhouse in an amusement park. The production design for the fun house is beautiful, with Jackie Chan fighting ninjas and henchmen in different locations – a corridor filled with hidden traps, an upside down room, and a fake outdoor set filled with snow and trees.
With all its ups and downs, My Lucky Stars still manages to charm with its light-hearted comedy and dazzling choreography, and it is no wonder why the film was and still is such a classic.
In the mood for some nostalgic 80s Hong Kong cinema this Chinese New Year? Catch My Lucky Stars on Netflix here.
Also, you can check out the trailer below.