Ridiculous Good Fun

Quick and dirty recommendation: Stephen Chow’s Forbidden City Cop might be a parody of martial arts films but for its loving deployment of fighting styles and mythologies; it slips into exceedingly silly slapstick but then, effortlessly, shows a formal self-reflexivity that seems far more attentive. And I laughed a lot. Chow plays a secret police agent for the Emperor, circa 1890s China. It’s got about 13 forms of chop-socky, some recognizable from the genre and some dreamed up by Chow for this film (Flying Fairy being one of my favorites). There’s a running set of gags riffing on James Bond, extraterrestrials, Chinese medicine, and crossdressing. Not quite the equal of his Shaolin Soccer or Kung Fu Hustle, but well worth watching–even for those uninterested in martial arts action flicks, you’d dig this.