Lifeline Express (1984)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2001-06-01
Summary: Starts out as a boys-own comedy ...........
This film is essentially a vehicle for Kent Cheng and Teddy Robin as a double act, rather like a weird version of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Much of the first half flip-flops between mawkish sentiment (Teddy plays an ungrateful and lusty loudmouth who nevertheless sincerely loves his brother) and silly boys-chasing-girls humour.

Not that the first half is entirely a waste. The short scene where the two guys are trying to make up with two of the nurses, and both do so by quoting lines from "Magnificent Obsession", is a scream.

The silliness fades away in the second half, and gives way to moderate horror and full-on occult weirdness. My favourite scene is where one of the nurses leans over Kent Cheng while he is having nightmare vision. The nurse's top falls open to reveal very full bosoms, but a moment later a pair of hands burst out from the chest to strangle Kent. Tiger's comment - "What a wasted opportunity."

The subtitling in this film is odd in a particular way. Not that it's full of bad grammar and spelling (which is nothing unusual) or that there is lots of bad language (ditto). It is this - so much of the subbing contains foul language which is out of context. Here's some examples……

* Teddy and Kent sing a song which starts with "Easy skanking, just dudes wanking". The remainder of the song has equally incomprehensible lyrics.

* A wedding ceremony at the end has Kent's character (who is a basically a kind and gentle man) introducing "my wife and slut". He is indicating his new wife and two bridesmaids. What on earth could they mean ?!

* A doctor says "I knew a man once who kissed a cunt, then swallowed her [sic]

false teeth and died".

…. And at least a dozen more examples. I know that there is a lot of foul language and punning in Cantonese, and the full impact of it is often lost in translation. Stephen Chow's humour is largely built upon this, for example. But surely, the above examples are not just straight translations ?!

Some less suspect but still pretty wild dialogue : "Don't twist your knickers".

The occult ceremony, near the end, which attempts to reverse Fatso's bad fortune, is the sort of wild and weird stuff you'll probably only ever seen in HK. Though it doesn't reach the dizzy heights of the best in wu'xia madness, it's probably the highlight of the film.

Overall, a mixed bag. I found most of the humour just too boyishly adolescent and stupid, and the horror wasn't exactly insomnia material. Nevertheless, this is an A-grade production with an accompanying nice look, and not too bad a way to pass 90 minutes.
Reviewer Score: 5