The Fortune Code:”Great wall is great, home is sweet.”

Year:1990
Directed by Kent Cheng
Produced by
Written by Barry Wong and Wong Jing
Cast: Andy Lau, Sammo Hung, Eric Tsang, Shing Fui-On, Kent Cheng, Alan Tam, Anita Mui, Max Mok, Chung Fat, Gordon Liu, Frankie Chan, and Michael Miu

A network of Chinese spies goes undercover in a Japanese P.O.W camp to locate and secure a secret code that could be used to access a bank account with $500 billion.

The Fortune Code is an oddity. It has a plot that screams The Great Escape and a fair bit of spy thrillers thrown in but despite its lofty inspirations, The Fortune Code is decidedly tame. It opts to be a little more than a conventional Hong Kong action comedy. It definitely has the talent to be something truly great with the likes of Andy Lau and Anita Mui in it. It doesn’t need to be a high classed political thriller even attempting to be an action comedy with the forethought of Tsui Hark’s Peking Opera Blues would have been much more satisfying. There is something glorious in ambition even if it fails than wholehearted mediocrity. The Fortune Code sadly feels like a mediocre effort. Not everything here is to be scoffed at. All of the well known actors played their roles pretty well much even if the characterization the script gives them is poor.

The comedy is all over the place. The humorous portrayal of Chinese collaboration could have been excellent satire in the hands of a more capable filmmaker, but what’s here is sometimes effective. The antics involving the ”Chinese Flying Tigers” are more bothersome than amusing and don’t advance the main conflict at all.

Despite the myriad of gags running rampant, surprisingly the truth behind the mystery is kept in check well enough that you’ll be genuinely shocked. In spite of the slight patriotic overtone, the villainous Japanese here considering their actual historical reputation in China during World War 2 aren’t terrifying enough because of how oddly tolerant they can be of the heroes’ antics. A more single-minded villainy even if it was of the cartoonish variety would have worked much better. One would hope that The Fortune Code would have the courtesy to end with a spectacular end fight at least ( it does feature Sammo Hung) yet even this is ended quite prematurely.

The Fortune Code is an uneven action comedy that mostly flounders on its subject material. However, it still possesses strong bouts of fun and likable leads.

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