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  Millionaires Express Locomotive Loco
Year: 1986
Director: Sammo Hung
Stars: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Olivia Cheng, Rosamund Kwan, Kenny Bee, Eric Tsang, Richard Ng, Lydia Shum, Emily Chu, Pauline Wong, Au Hoi-Lun, Lam Ching-Ying, Mang Hoi, Ma Wu, Yuen Wah, James Tien, Paul Chang Chung, Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton
Genre: Comedy, Martial Arts, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Ching Fong Tin (Sammo Hung) is what you might call an opportunist, and today, in the snowy wilds of Russia, he is taking advantage of the scene he stumbles upon where a platoon of Russian soldiers are lying around dead in the cold. Tin starts ransacking their bodies for stuff he can sell, but suddenly a loud voice announces that the army exercise is over and they can get up again, which places Tin in a very difficult position. Of his own making, sure, but does he deserve to be stripped to his underwear and dancing for the jeering soldiers in a log cabin? Even if he does, he manages to wheedle his way out of it with the help of a pair of grenades, but the life of a rogue is never quiet...

One of those endless amounts of Chinese New Year movies that initially appeared from Hong Kong, but are now all over the mainland as well, Millionaires Express was an all-star effort from Sammo Hung where, as was often, he recruited his friends in the industry to star alongside him, chief among them childhood pal Yuen Biao who played his antagonist, a good guy lawman who Tin is first pitted against, then teams up with to repel a rather large gang of bandits in the final act. Before that, there was the usual brand of incredible stunts, dangerous fight scenes, slapstick and wordplay that would largely be lost on the international audience, depending on how good the subtitles were.

Or indeed the dubbing, should you prefer to go down that route. To be fair, latterly there have appeared better subtitles that make an effort to translate the puns, and offer a flavour of what was intended, but internationally, you did not watch Sammo Hung movies for his dialogue, you watched them for the physical antics he and his cast - and stuntmen and women - got up to. Jackie Chan would be the king of such behaviour in the nineteen-eighties, but there was plenty here that was impressive, mostly the film's favourite gag, having someone fall or jump from a great height from the top of a building. Over and over again this occurs, and it remains alarming each time, though bizarrely funny, too.

In essence, Millionaires Express was one of those historically-set Hong Kong movies where the makers wanted to pay homage to the Westerns they had watched in their youth; the most famous of those in the West was Chan's Shanghai Noon, though you could see it in other places too, and Sammo was not immune to the lure of the cowboys in his work either. Though nominally set in China, this was a Western in all but name, with a frontier town beset with those pesky bandits and the rest of the action set on the train of the title, because what would a Western actioner be without an iron horse traversing the great plains? This had the cast get up to all sorts on the carriages as the thieves try to rob the rich on there, and the passengers, especially an adulterous Richard Ng, use the roof instead of the corridors.

As often with this director-star, the humour was unafraid to be crass, or even offensive, with the jokes lapsing into bad taste with some regularity, but Sammo was no snob, he was playing to the cheap seats throughout and they knew what made them laugh: fat ladies falling over, prostitution, pretending to be mentally challenged, and so forth. More sophisticated fans tend to forgive these bits and pieces because there were so many other aspects around them that were often amazing to witness, and let's not forget the martial arts fans who relished the fights between Sammo and Yuen, and even one between Sammo and popular import Cynthia Rothrock, securing her place as an American star in Asia by being given this blessing by her director. Really it was simply satisfying to watch everyone labouring so intensely on something this daft, knowing they were working their guts out to entertain: that can at times be offputting in other places, but never here.

[Eureka have packed their Blu-ray release of this title with everything a fan could want and more:

Four versions of the film across two Blu-ray discs, all presented from brand new 2K restorations | Limited Edition O-Card slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling | Limited Edition reversible poster featuring new and original artwork | Limited Edition Bonus Disc featuring the English language version of the film originally prepared for the international theatrical release; and a new cut of the film prepared exclusively for this release that combines footage from the original theatrical and extended cuts of the film to present a hypothetical "complete" version | Limited Edition booklet featuring new writing and rare archival imagery

DISC ONE
1080p presentation on Blu-ray of the Original Hong Kong Theatrical Cut from a brand new 2K restoration | 1080p presentation on Blu-ray of the Extended Version (sometimes erroneously labelled the International Cut) of the film from a brand new 2K restoration | Cantonese audio (original mono presentation) | Alternate English dub track | Rare alternate Cantonese soundtrack | Optional English dubbed audio | Optional English Subtitles (newly translated for this release) | Brand new feature length audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival) [Hong Kong Theatrical Version] | Brand new select scene commentary by actress and martial arts movie icon, Cynthia Rothrock [Hong Kong Theatrical Version] | Brand new audio commentary by Mike Leeder and Arne Venema [Extended Version] | Brand new interview with Cynthia Rothrock | Archival interview with Sammo Hung | Archival interview with Cynthia Rothrock | Archival interview with Yuen Biao | Archival interview with Yukari Oshima | Alternate English opening & closing credits | Trailers

DISC TWO (Limited Edition)
1080p presentation on Blu-ray of the English Language Version from a brand new 2K restoration | 1080p presentation on Blu-ray of the Hybrid Cut, newly created exclusively for this release from a brand new 2K restoration | Original English dubbed audio track [English Language Version] | Original Cantonese mono audio [Hybrid Cut] | Optional English subtitles.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Sammo Hung  (1952 - )

Hong Kong born actor, producer and director and one of the best known figures in Hong Kong cinema. Hung's large frame belies a formidable martial arts ability, and he's best known for his collaborations with Jackie Chan during the 1980s and more recently for his US TV show Martial Law.

Hung's acting career began at the age of 12 but it was Enter the Dragon that gave him his first high profile role. He starred in a continuous stream of kung fu movies throughout the seventies, and made his directing debut in 1977 with Iron-Fisted Monk. A series of now-classic martial arts comedies followed, all directed by and starring Sammo - Warriors Two, Encounters of the Spooky Kind, Prodigal Son, My Lucky Stars, Pedicab Driver. But his best loved pictures are those in which he appeared alongside Jackie Chan, including Project A, Wheels on Meals, Dragons Forever and My Lucky Stars.

 
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