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富貴列車 (1986)
The Millionaires' Express

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 05/23/2006

After watching a few Hong Kong movies per week for the past year or so we are finally beginning to recognize many actors with just a quick glimpse as the camera pans past them the first time they are on the screen—this movie is an excellent exercise since it, as has been said, features a boatload of familiar faces from the 1970s and 1980s. There isn’t much of a plot although there are several storylines that are connected by the pending arrival and subsequent sabotage of the train in the title—a train that is carrying something that everyone wants.

Chin Fong Tin thinks the enforced vacation by the high rollers on the train will be great for the town and also for the prostitutes he is bringing with him. One set of robbers, an inept crew led by the irrepressible Eric Tsang want to rob the train because...well they just wont to rob the train. They have already stolen the life savings of just about everyone in town but want more and plan to ride up the train on horses and jump aboard. A much more professional gang of thieves has a meticulously planned operation. They know that the Japanese ambassador has a map that shows the location of the terra cotta warriors—quite a map, since it pinpoints a discovery that will take place about 80 years after the action in the movie—and are willing to pay the scoundrels they hire a lot of money plus all the loot from the passengers in order to get the map. The law is represented by Tsao Cheuk Kin, a very fit and powerful Yuen Biao, and a government agent co-opted by the CIA (!), an alternatingly smirking and snarling Kenny Bee who is obsessed with capturing Chin Fong Tin.

There is something for everyone in this movie: martial arts, very broad comedy, astounding stunt work—some of the high falls done without cuts are worth replaying a few times—a very large set is torched, even Wong Fei Hong makes an appearance. There are all but indestructible Japanese Ninjas, including Oshima Yukari, a lovely group of prostitutes led by Rosamun Kwan and including the feisty Pauline Wong and the gorgeous Emily Chu. Their main purpose is to set up a big scene for Sammo when he confronts the moral uplift ladies who want to run the girls out of town. He wows them with a story of how his poor mother was a prostitute who had ten children and had to provide for them in the only way she could.

With so many action stars to accommodate some of the fights seemed too short although all were choreographed and executed well. Yeun Biao is always a joy to watch as is Oshima Yukari, and watching Sammo and Cynthia Rothrock beat the hell out of each other was a lot of fun. Jimmy Wang Yu seemed oddly cast as Wong Kai-Ying, but if Donnie Yen can play Wong Fei Hong’s father....

After a while—a very short while—the viewer forgets or ignores the anachronisms, the huge holes in the plot, the very odd costuming—the mountain bandits were dressed in Union Army uniforms from the U.S. Civil War—and other inconsistencies to enjoy all the unbridled good humor and excellent action.

The DVD we watched had a couple of minutes of “making of” type footage under the final credits.


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/01/2006
Summary: A true classic

Bringing together virtually every living performer from Golden Harvest’s history (except Jackie Chan, who is conspicuous by his absence), this film is a joy from start to finish.

Part comedy adventure and part action movie, for once everything gels into place. Particular mention must go to Richard Ng’s performance as an unlikely lothario, although it must be said that no one here lets the side down. In fact, the comedy in this piece works better than almost any Hong Kong film I’ve ever seen – the scene where two convicts try to break the chain that connects them is a case in point. Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao are on their usual 80’s top form, knocking seven shades out of each other at every opportunity, and just about every other action performer puts in a great show without giving the impression that any one of them is trying to steal the limelight.

The best thing about this one is that you can watch it over and over again without any of the elements becoming tiresome. Definitely one of the most entertaining Hong Kong films ever made, and a true cinema classic regardless of genre or country of origin.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 04/30/2006
Summary: wow...

sammo hung writes directs and stars in a multi-genre gem; part western, comedy, action, adventure, comedy, with an all-star cast. the story involves a train full of the rich and affluent being forced to stop in a small town by sammo, who is trying to raise the town's fortune to atone for him almost ruining it years ago. there's a special agent pursueing sammo, the town's security officers who've just robbed their own bank (led by eric tsang), a group of japanese officials taking a scroll back to japan, a team of chinese agents who are trying to steal the scroll, bandits who want to rob the train and the fire brigade (led by yuen biao) who are trying to keep order...

yuen wah, rosamund kwan, billy lau, richard ng, cynthia rothrock, lydia sum, lau kar-wing, corey yuen, richard norton, dick wei, jimmy wang yu and a host of others pop up in various roles.

a real fun film. there's some great set pieces and, even though you may think the film may have too wide a scope, everything comes together nicely in the end.

great stuff...

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 08/13/2005
Summary: Plot's a mess, but some great set-pieces

The plot: the inaugural voyage of a luxury train draws the attention of several gangs of thieves, and a backwater village that the train passes through becomes the centre of attention as prodigal son Sammo Hung plots to have it stop there and relieve the passengers of some of their wealth.

OR is it: Sammo Hung produces a thinly veiled excuse to get nearly everyone he knows into his Chinese New Year's movie for 1986?

Really the plot isn't all that important, or even coherent, as it's mainly a film of action & comedy set-pieces - featuring one of the largest casts of HK celebrities ever put on film.

Sammo Hung directs & leads the cast, with Yuen Biao taking second billing and about 100 others padding out the ensemble cast. There are multiple subplots that criss-cross like spaghetti, with the majority never really reaching any particular fruition or conclusion if you analyse the events too deeply. Most of the characters are just there to have their moment of comedy or action, with Sammo Hung's story arc being the only one that has any real depth. It all kind of works, but you have to remember that it's a Chinese New Year film and not one that was intended as a profound work of art.

Glancing at the cast list, the estute viewer will note that at least half the cast were best known for their martial arts. Not everyone gets to show off their talents - e.g. Yuen Wah and Lam Ching Ying just play comically pathetic and bumbling idiots. Others do get chance to strut their stuff though - especially Sammo, Yuen Biao, Hwang Jang Lee and Cynthia Rothrock. Yukari Oshima makes a fantastic impression in her first "big" role. Personally I'd have sacrificed some of the comedy subplots in favour of more action, but action takes longer to film and they had to wrap for a NY release. The action that is in the film is superlative - Biao in particular is on top form, and there's some alarming stunt work involving multi-storey falls. It's not quite an "action classic" in my eyes because the action isn't quite front-of-stage enough, but it's definitely one that fans of 80's HK Cinema will want to see.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 04/14/2004
Summary: Not a gem, but not a complete waste either

Millionaire's Express is a tough call for me. The script is ludicris and there's not much going for it besides star power and some short fight scenes. Now The fight scenes -- simply not enough ONE-on-ONEs. There are more "one good fighter vs random people" fights, which are of course less mindblowing.

With an all star cast like this, Millionaire's Express could have been much better.


Reviewed by: Wurms
Date: 07/21/2002
Summary: Movie Stinks, Cast is Great

This is one of those Sammo movies that offers nothing for the entire movie but a slim bit of comedy then blows up with a 30 minute finale extravaganza, and we somehow forgive Sammo for the previous hour he bored us to death with.

The plot is almost non-existent. Eric Tsang and a group of robbers rob a small towns bank. The town is now bankrupt. Along comes Sammo, a former resident of the town who is no longer wanted and he comes up with get rich quick scheme: a plan of opening a hotel and then making the Shanghai Express train filled with rich people stop at the town with no choice but to stay in his hotel, and buy the towns good, replenishing the town.

Well, the entire robbery, and Sammo coming to the town, etc. etc. is the first 60-70 minutes of the film. We get a cool stunt of Yuen Biao falling from the roof of a tall building onto the ground (although you can see the matress).

Then towards the end we get a small but very nice Yuen Biao vs Sammo Fight.

Then the finale. A whole bunch of HK actors you have seen many times before all have fight scenes. We have Hwang Jang Lee, Moon Lee, Dick Wei, Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, etc. etc. A lot of good fighting at the end.

This movie was a let down for me. It bores you to death until the end. We don't even get good comedy to satisfy us until the end, only a whiny Eric Tsang. Only watch it for the finale, because that is all that is there.


Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 02/06/2002
Summary: Garbage

I thought I had reviewed this ages ago, seems I didn't. I won't bother now either, it's such a load of rubbish in my opinion. It's full of stars true, and some parts are funny, but most of it is utter garbage, with a very poor story.

Rating: 2/5

Reviewed by: Ryoga
Date: 12/25/2001

What an insane film!! doesn't get any better than this! Full of great fights, stunts and comedy. Who is all in the film? Well, Let's see-
Yuen Biao, Sammo Hung, Dick Wei, Hwang Jang Lee, Yukari Oshima, Yasuaki Kurata, Eric Tsang, Richard Norton, Rosamund Kwan, Wang Lung Wei, Richard Ng, Lam Ching Ying, Cynthia Rothrock, Wu Ma, Emily Chu, Yuen Wah, Kenny Bee, Jimmy Wang Yu, Lau Kar Wing, Phillip Ko Fei, Chung Fa, Fan Mui Sheng, and James Tien. I have also heard that Bolo Yeung and Casanova Wong is in it, I couldn't catch them though. Well, if they are in it, that just makes the list bigger. Buy this one right away!

Reviewed by: runo_jp
Date: 06/12/2001
Summary: the millionaire's express

This is Hong Kong entertainment at its best. With a four stars cast, laughs, action, and fast paced story. One may wonder why they cannot make such films anymore…

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/03/2001
Summary: Pretty good

I knew this had good fighting scenes in it, and i was even more suprised it blew those expectations away!! Some great fighting scenes here!!

The comedy is not bad but don't expect a brilliant plot. I think the plot let me down a little........and the ending........


Reviewed by: RLM
Date: 04/23/2001
Summary: Funniest movie of 1986

I laughed my ass off the entire film. The fighting is great, the humor is side splitting, and check out the moves of the sexy female japanese ninja! Even my wife thought it was great.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

What happens when a glamorous express, with high governmentofficials, wealthy merchants, concubines and a gang of brigands on board, speeds towards the small town of Hanshui, where escaping bank robbers, corrupt officials, and gamblers await? Well, let's just say the Titanic had a smoother maiden voyage.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Samo plays a shady businessman who has plans to revive the town of Hanshui, in which he grew up in. Biao plays the law of the town who is not only suspicious of Samo but must also catch some bank robbers. Speeding towards Hanshui is the Shanghai Express, a train containing many wealthy people. The train is not only the target of Samo's plans but also a gang of train robbers. In the end the factions, including some Japanese, must combine together to stop the train robbers. An excellent film with many hilarious moments and some great fights including a fight between Samo and Biao. Also included in the film are plenty of familiar faces which adds to this masterpiece.


[Reviewed by Dave Warner]