@ (1980)
From Riches to Rags


Reviewed by: cpardo
Date: 05/15/2006
Summary: Uneven John Woo comedy--could've been better

Ying is down and out everyday man living with his grandma and with a dead end job at a milk company. He yearns to make it big and win the heart of movie star Jo Jo. After having their fortune told, he and his buddy Fatso buy a lottery ticket, which turns out to be the winning one. Now millionaires, a recurring stomach ailment is diagnosed to be Cancer, and Ying feels there's no point in living. When he gives money to another depressed man, the man decides to help him out and hire some killers to bump him off. Then Ying finds out he does not have cancer, and has to run for his life from the hired killers...

Another Ricky Hui comedy by John Woo. Actually this movie is enjoyable at first as it has decent comic scenes, some enhanced by sped up camera work. So it's very silly and lighthearted. When the killers attack, the movie takes an abrupt dark black comedy turn, mixing comedy with suspense which doesn't quite work. The final scenes taking place in a insane asylum are even darker, with Johnny Koo's girlfriend turning out to be a psychotic killer. Suddenly the humor takes on a bizarre edge, with all the mental patients, the killers and Ricky and Johnny are meshed together into a chaotic mess. And it tended to go on too long as well. Is there a statement here that Woo is trying to make? Koo says: "we'll either die or go crazy--all because of money." I said it before though, John Woo's comedies are unlike any other HK films I've seen. They are interesting, but don't really work as a cohesive whole. But it does make more sense and is more watchable in the DVD version. Ricky is good in the film and Koo is okay although kind of annoying and not really fun to watch like Hui. A mixed review but I do agree that there many funny moments and scenes and themes Woo would present better in his action dramas.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 09/18/2004
Summary: A bit better than Average!!

I did re watch this movie and i changed my mind on this movie

This movie is a bit old now. Watching it did give me a few laughs.The movie also had a sense of morality to it which is unlike a lot of movies today. Ricky Hui in my mind has always been in the shadow of his more famous brothers. It's good to see him star as the main actor. I beleive when it first came out, people were laughing there heads off but by today standards makes me give this:

6.75/10

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Darryl
Date: 12/21/1999

Lovelorn Hui obsesses over a Golden Harvest starlet while whilingaway his time in a bottling plant with his pal (Johnny Koo) who is constantly eating. On a whim he bets on the ponies and wins big, but is informed he has a disease and will die soon. Hui spends big, discovers true love through a constantly-spurned female friend, hires a bunch of wackos to kill him, only to discover he isn't going to die! Koo falls for a mysterious woman who lures both he and Hui into a looney bin where they are forced to endure attempts on their lives, the assassins, and various other cinematic in-jokes. Woo's humor works well here, and Hui, like brother Michael, is a comic master. The end turns sadistic with a DEER-HUNTER inspired scene, but if I could understand Chinese better, perhaps it wasn't as vicious as it seemed. Thoroughly enjoyable and Samuel Hui sings the catchy theme song. Watch for a plethora of cinematic in-jokes.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: kachun
Date: 12/09/1999

Certainly one of the most weird and surreal John Woo films around. The movie appears to be another film in the silly comedy genre, which has been a staple of the Hong Kong film industry especially in the early 80s. The silliness is probably never better than when John Woo does a _Drunken Master_ parody, complete with music, when Ricky and Fatso go to train at the local kung fu school! However Woo, who also scripted the film, gave the picture a decidedly strange tone by having the last third of it take place inside an insane asylum, with inmates and our main characters running amok. The viewer is then treated to a spectacle that is up near the stratosphere in the weird quotient, when a crew of mental patients (as unusual as you'll ever see on film) do their thing. _From Riches to Rags_ ends up being rather uneven. By the end of the movie it is obvious that Woo's message was that money was the root of the main characters' troubles. However the plot meanders around and it seems like his main theme was thrown in as an afterthought. The direction is rather pedestrian, with little of the dramatic camerawork that would be associated with later Woo films. Parts of the soundtrack was also lifted wholesale from Jerry Goldsmith's music from _Star Trek: The Motion Picture_; this may be the only John Woo film where the viewer gets to hear the familiar opening theme that's also used in the TV series _Star Trek: The Next Generation_! I would normally recommend that you stay away from this somewhat mediocre offering. But for someone studying Woo though, this film does offer an interesting bridge between his acknowledged influences and his later films. Many have noted the influence of Michael Cimino's _The Deer Hunter_ on Woo's epic _Bullet in the Head_. However what many do not know is that in some ways, _From Riches to Rags_ is almost a precursor to _Bullet in the Head_! The hellish trip through the insane asylum that Ricky and Fatso go through is parallelled by what Ben, Frank, and Paul suffer in Vietnam in _Bullet in the Head_. A Russian roulette scene from _The Deer Hunter_ is actually reproduced in _From Riches to Rags_, with similar dialogue between the characters (all of which would later evolve into the harrowing Viet Cong camp sequence in _Bullet in the Head_). Watching this movie is a surreal experience for the experienced Woo-viewer not only because of what's being shown on screen, but also because of the feeling of deja vu, as you see Woo test themes and ideas that he would re-use with great effect later in his career.

Reviewer Score: 8