Directed by Sammo Hung
Produced by Raymond Chow and Leonard Ho
Written by Sammo Hung and Barry Wong
Cast: Sammo Hung, Richard Ng, Stanley Fung, John Shum, Charlie Chin, Cherie Chung, Jackie Chan, James Tien, Cecilia Yip, Pat Ha, Tai Bo, and Lam Ching-Ying
Five men who met from their time spent in prison, start a cleaning service after they’re released. But they find themselves the target of a crime syndicate when a mysterious briefcase falls into their hands.
Despite the myriad posters saying otherwise, this isn’t a ”Jackie Chan film”, it’s a film with Jackie Chan. Special emphasis on the word ”with” since Jackie is a supporting character here. Winners and Sinners is a classic among Hong Kong fans for spawning a bit of a franchise and being the first inclusion of martial artist superstars: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, and Jackie Chan.
In many ways, Winners and Sinners are nothing but a series of gags and hijinks. Not a pleasing description. Yet, Winners and Sinners is a very enjoyable experience. Most of this pleasant experience hinges on the quality of the gags. The gags here are quite notable in their creativity and just pure entertainment value. The opening montages of the film are probably a great showcase of the film’s comedic creativity. Each montage gives you a good glimpse into the character’s quirky persona while keeping you laughing. And that’s another reason for this film’s quality, is the strength of the cast. Each member of the core cast is robust enough to be distinguishable, excluding Cherie Chung’s character whose is just the ”girl” of the team. I doubt it’s the script that should be commended for this though; rather, it’s the cast that carries Winners and Sinners from a bad movie to a passable one.
In fact, that’s what probably separates it from other wacky comedies at the time a solid cast with distinct characters. It wouldn’t surprise me too much if the actors improvised a several of the gags. Perhaps, the funniest gag in Winners and Sinners that pushed the limits of good taste is the scene where the others fool Richard Ng’s character into believing he is invisible while he is naked. A crazy, absurd moment that could have easily failed, but the actors skillfully nail it. A testament to their comedic skill, I have no doubt about. Sammo Hung’s character teapot is a lovable one though not deep, but whose willingness to be a glutton for punishment puts a smile on your face. The Jackie Chan segments are fun to watch though they’re usually disjointed from the plot, then again, this film doesn’t have much plot to begin with. A fun adventure with a weak script in places. After-all, how did Teapot cracked that code on the briefcase?
This Sammo Hung led comedy relies too much on gags of varying quality to be something of substance. Yet, it is undeniable that it has a winning formula because it has produced many sequels. It wins and sins in its merry way but it might sin way too much considering its weak script.