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Review The Millionaires' Express a.k.a. Shanghai Express a.k.a. Foo gwai lit che (1986): Funny Eastern!

genre: action. comedy, western

The Millionaires' Express is something you don't see everyday. In hindsight I would say it's a parody and tribute to the Western genre and old school Kung fu films. It's subtle and over the top at the same time. Like for example the misunderstood hero (Sammo as Chin Fong Tin). He wants nothing more to be with his girlfriend but for some unknown reason can't be with here. It's one of the running gags. Very effective and hilarious when you give it some thought.  

From start till end you will be entertained. Everything what is happening concerning the Millionaires' Express is a setup for the grand finale in the last twenty minutes! Somehow Sammo Hung managed to create a western in Chinese setting. Even one character in particular seems to be a parody of Clint Eastwood. A lot is going on in the movie but the real action picks up at the final. If you come in expecting this to be a non stop action film then you might be slightly disappointed. The approach is different. It's more a farce where you get introduced to quite a lot of characters. If you are familiar with Hong Kong films then you will recognize a high number of actors.  It's one of those extra elements that increases the viewing experience. 

If subtle comedy isn't your thing then fear not. There are a lot of jokes that are easy to understand for everyone because they are very visual. One example is a man who seems to be cheating on his wife. While on the train he visits his mistress by climbing on top of the train and without any problems he walks to the wagon where his mistress is residing. Meanwhile a hoodlum has a lot of difficulties maintaining his balance while he is on top of the train. When the two encounter the adulterer greets him like he is taking a stroll while the hoodlum almost falls off the train. This is just so hilarious especially when you consider how many more excuses this guy has come up with to go from woman to woman. 

I also recognized a parody on Wong Fei Hung (a famous Chinese hero). It was easily one of the funniest scenes in the film. Anyhow all the different characters have their objectives and will be put in very funny scenes which will come to a climax in the last twenty minutes. The action is more than wonderful. Yuen Baio and Jang Lee Hwang (Korean martial artist famous for being the villain in "Drunken Master") steal the show! Not to say that all the others weren't great but Yuen Baio and Jang Lee Hwang (one of the samurai) simply stand out. As they show some excellent moves and skill. There are some small sequences with Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton but they were too short for my taste. Yukari Oshima plays one of the samurai and does enough to make an impact. Sammo Hung himself also shows off his talent and skills with a lot of finesse. 

Millionaires' Express delivers on humor and action. What more do you want? One of the best films Sammo Hung as ever made!

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