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Mr. Canton and Lady Rose

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 06/27/2006

Kuo Cheng Wah (Jackie Chan) arrives in Hong Kong to start a new life, but is swiftly conned into giving all his money away. However, through an unlikely turn of events he finds himself boss of a crime gang. Any further plot synopsis is rendered difficult due to the farcical nature of the film – everyone has at least two identities and things get a bit complicated!

MR CANTON AND LADY ROSE (which is almost always referred to by its English name MIRACLES) had a bit of a bad reputation in the late 80’s and early nineties. I remember I was in a video shop in 1992 and I overheard a conversation about Jackie where one guy vehemently said, “I like Jackie Chan, but I don’t like Miracles”, and that was the general opinion of most people at that time. Even Golden Harvest weren’t too keen, and complained that the film was too long (at two hours) and they couldn’t fit enough screenings in one day to get their money back.

The main source of discontent at the time of release was the lack of fight scenes, which seems odd these days compared to his current output. Sure, there aren’t many action scenes at all, but what IS there is truly superb – and if the final showdown at the rope factory doesn’t bring a smile to your face then you’re watching the wrong genre of film.

This was the film in which Jackie tried to become a serious director, with long tracking shots and a higher emphasis on good quality camerawork. He succeeds to a point, but the effort was mainly wasted on an audience who just wanted to go and see Jackie Chan do his usual stuff and beat up a few people along the way. You can probably blame the shift away from action scenes to what is essentially and old-time comedy (that would have probably performed well as a stage play) on his accident during the filming of ARMOUR OF GOD. He’d always hinted afterwards that he’d like to try and just be a director and let other people be the stars, and this feels like an attempt to wean his audience off his usual style.

The cast is strong for the most part and contains MANY cameos from the great and good of Hong Kong cinema at the time. In fact, it appears that Jackie was attempting to out-Sammo Sammo Hung’s MILLIONAIRES EXPRESS. Although the way in which Jackie is appointed the new head of the crime gang is utterly unbelievable, the whole film is to be taken as a fantasy and works well as such. The scene in which Jackie, who wants the gang to go straight, employs the mob to immitate high-ranking Hong Kong officials is particularly entertaining, but needs to be seen in its original Cantonese language to get the full benefit. On the subject, the first dubbed version I watched of this film had the gangsters all talking in Italian-American accents. Talk about dumb: I expected them to all start calling each other Tony and start arguing over pizza.

The only real problem with this film is that the plot elements appear to be a little second-hand (that and the tendency to touch on melodrama at times). I haven’t seen POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES that this seems to be inspired by so I can’t comment on any similarity, but in general the farcical elements are standard fare for the genre and you do get the feeling you’ve seen it all before. Particularly, the Police Inspector played by Richard Ng is evidently heavily influenced by Peter Sellers’ Clouseau. As groundbreaking in terms of cinematography this film is, unfortunately it shows up the incidental music which relies on anachronistic synthesisers and electric guitars. It’s a shame that more attention wasn’t shown to this aspect of the film, as it does feel jarringly out of place for a film set in the 30’s.

It’s not widely known, but this film suffered from many mishaps during its gestation, including the death of (I believe) a painter, who fell from one of the sets while working. Rumour has it that Jackie has provided well for the family ever since.

A sad footnote to a film that should have been appreciated more at the time particularly with so many of the cast no longer with us.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 05/10/2006
Summary: aka 'miracles'...

a new arrival in hong kong, jackie comes to the aid of an old gang boss, who subsequently dies in his arms, but professes that he is to be his successor. luckily chan has the fighting skills to secure the job, but he wants the gang to go straight and not make money by foul means. as it happens anita mui arrives on the scene looking to pay off her father's debts to the gang by with a bit of a song and a dance. things seem to be going well, until jackie comes to the aid of the the old woman who sells him roses for luck...

in an attempt to answer criticisms of his directorial talent, chan has created a very accomplished film; his homage to 'a pocketful of miracles', amongst others, looks pretty amazing, but it just falls a little short: there's some fantastic action, some humour and little drama thrown in; there's even a musical number. still, the narrative is just a little too clunky, the action leaves you wanting more and the humour doesn't hit quite as often as it should; all of which mean that it never quite reaches the status of a classic, but it's a bloody good attempt.

jackie is likable as ever, wu ma is great as hoi, anita mui adds a touch of glam and richard ng is always welcome. amongst the many cameos, i managed to spot yuen biao and john shum, but missed jacky cheung and a host of others; i didn't even realise that 'belle' was gloria yip - she looks so different when she's not in league with the devil (ala 'saga of the phoenix').

good stuff...

Reviewed by: Libretio
Date: 10/19/2005
Summary: Lavish, all-star remake of Capra classic


Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Anamorphic)
Sound format: Mono

1930's Shanghai: A naive country bumpkin (Jackie Chan) is appointed leader of a shady criminal gang and helps an impoverished flower-seller (Gui Yalei) to convince her unwitting family that she's a wealthy society figure with important political connections. Hilarious complications ensue...

Eager to dispel the notion that he was little more than an action star, Jackie Chan directed and co-wrote this sumptuous 'homage' to Frank Capra's POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES (1961), distinguished by its high profile cast and breathtaking cinematography by industry veteran Arthur Wong. Beloved by Hong Kong movie fans worldwide, the film's mixture of period detail, balletic action (among the best of Chan's career), uproarious farce and slapstick comedy is undeniably entertaining, but it's also something of a mixed bag. The emphasis on pratfalls and comic complications serves to dilute the basic storyline, and the running time is excessive. But as spectacle, it's hard to beat: The late and much-lamented Anita Mui emerges from Chan's shadow to camp it up as an old-fashioned chanteuse (get a load of her Busby Berkeley-esque musical number!); the fight scenes are timed and filmed with jaw-dropping style and precision; and Wong's camera swoops and dives over some of the most eye-popping production design this side of a Hollywood blockbuster. Also known as BLACK DRAGON, THE CANTON GODFATHER and MIRACLES.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 06/18/2005
Summary: Yes, Jackie Chan can direct...

Miracles, directed by and starring Jackie Chan, tells the story of young man who comes to Hong Kong and, after purchasing a rose from a street vendor, starts having tremendously good luck. After buying the rose, Kuo Cheng Wah's (Chan) saves the life of a Triad boss during a shootout. Later, as the boss is dying, he indicates that Kuo Cheng should take over the Triad, beginning Kuo's wild induction into the world of organized crime. Being a simple man, Kuo decides to let his underlings handle the dirty business as he focuses on running a legitimate business. Later, Kuo meets Luming Yang (Anita Mui), the daughter of a former Triad partner who has died but still owes money. Kuo decides to let her pay off his debt by having her sing in his newly opened night club, the Ritz. In the meantime, believing it to be good luck, Kuo has continued to buy roses from the street vendor and, when she needs his help in impressing her daughter's fiancee's family, Kuo feels obliged. With the help of Luming and his concelate Uncle Hai, Kuo must not only throw the most impressive wedding in Hong Kong, he has to do so while being hunted by Hong Kong's Chief Inspector Ho (Richard Ng) and Tiger, the leader of the rival Triad group. As the title suggests, Jackie will need a miracle to pull it off!

With incredible fight scenes and some very funny parts, Miracles has all the elements of a great Jackie Chan movie. However, this film is special because of Chan's spectacular directing. Some of the best scenes are the wonderful tracking shots which sweep across the set, smoothly focusing on individual conversations and interactions. The actors all have great timing on their entrances and lines, making the scenes very enjoyable. Both Jackie and Anita Mui are excellent, as is Kuo's concelat Uncle Hai. Miracles is definitely one of the best Jackie Chan films to date.


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Arshadnm6
Date: 04/21/2005
Summary: More wackiness and silly antics from the one and only Jackie Chan and his usual cast of troupe......

Kwok (played by Jackie from ‘Project A part I and II’ and ‘Rumble in the Bronx’), a countryside self-starter, arrives in Hong Kong intent on securing wealth and fame in the big city. However, after a few unlucky episodes his luck runs out and he ends up inheriting a local crime syndicate when a dying boss mistakenly chooses him as his successor. Kwok unwillingly agrees to undertake the fulfilling the dying boss’s last request by taking new leadership over the gang and receives constant counsel from his number one (played by Wu Ma from ‘It’s a Drink, It’s a Bomb’, ‘Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars’ and ‘The Millionaire’s Express’). After convincing the rest of the mob members of his suitability for the role through some grilling challenges, Kwok earns the respect of his gang. Being a superstitious person, he attributes his recent success to the roses that he buys from the poor Madame Rose (played by Gua Ah-Leh), a local flower lady and makes the purchases a regular daily occurrence. Through re-thinking the gangs strategy of making money, he comes up with the idea of redesigning the nightclub (main hangout spot for the gang) into a fashionable club dubbed “The Ritz”, whilst hiring a debt-ridden singer, Yang Yu-Ming (played by Anita Mui from ‘Moon Warriors’, ‘Drunken Master II’ and ‘Saviour of the Soul’) to act as a showgirl and pay back her fathers owed dues as their star attraction. With his upright and honest stance, Kwok decides to help Madame Rose’s daughter (played by Gloria Yip from) come back home with her rich, well-known and respected fiancée and get married. This situation arises as Madame Rose has been providing for Gloria’s education by sending her money and pretending she’s a wealthy via using a well-known hotel as her main address through an internal contact working there. Kwok and Yang Yu-Ming decide to aid Madame Rose in an elaborate deception of rags-to-riches for the transformation to ensure a smooth engagement. Things spiral out of control, as there is persisting tension with another local crime syndicate, as well as the constant intervening habits of the local policemen (led by Richard Ng from ‘Carry on Hotel’, ‘My Wife is 18’ and ‘My Dream Girl’).

The movie also features a wealth of other actors such as Bill Tung Bui as Madame Rose’s make-believe partner (from ‘Project A part II’ and ‘Police Story I, II, III and IV’), Gloria Yip as Madame Rose’s daughter (from ‘Saviour of the Soul’), Lo Lieh as Jackie Chan’s rival for leadership (from ‘Police Story 3’ and ‘The Untold Story’), Billy Chow as the rival gang’s goon (from ‘Eastern Condors’ and ‘Fist of Legend’), Chor Yuen as the dying boss (from ‘Thunderbolt’ and ‘Police Story I and II’), Ricky Hui as Jackie Chan’s goon (from ‘Mr. Vampire’ and ‘Project A part II’) alongside Ken Lo, Yuen Biao, Jacky Cheung, Simon Yam, Mars, Tai Bo, Ray Lui , Amy Yip and Kenny Bee to name a few!

‘Miracles’ aka ‘Mr. Canton and Lady Rose’ was also surprisingly directed by Jackie Chan and the action and comedy never disappoint. It also seems to be very high-budget at its time of production and this really shows as the money was invested in the correct areas for the viewers to observe. Furthermore, there are enough twists and a strong storyline to keep everybody entertained as well some well-choreographed action. This movie showcases Jackie Chan’s ability to hold his own without any major involvement from other stars and deliver in such strenuous circumstances as those encountered in ‘Project A part II’. This attempt is a definite success as compared to previous one which was absolutely overwhelming for him even with the presence of stars such as Maggie Cheung and Rosamund Kwan. Not all of the focus on this movie is on action since Jackie Chan seems to be the only actor able to fight properly and most of the opponents that he faces throughout the movie can be individually overcome by him with quite some ease and so he faces groups rather than single fighters.

The setting of the movie is recreated with the finest of details and no shortfalls can be pinpointed whatsoever. Also, the huge cast list refreshes the movie constantly and offers everybody an opportunity to quickly deliver their acting strengths and disappear into thin air without getting bogged down with the nitty-gritty emotional or dramatic aspects of acting. This interweaving of actors is not necessarily a bad thing considering the claustrophobic and chaotic lifestyle of living in Hong Kong at that period. This movie is no tear-jerker and does not try to be one most of the time (regardless of Madame Rose’s naturally excruciating circumstances of trying to protect her daughter because of motherly love) but offers plenty of entertainment value on all fronts. The only minor flaws in this movie may be that they do not deal with this thorny issue of common-sense or characters feelings and that the outlook of the movie is very age-ratings friendly as opposed to realistic cold-blooded personification and murders/killings of rival gangsters (since nobody dies in this movie, not even the saboteurs or rival gangsters). Also, most gangsters are comical and cannot be taken seriously, not even the head of local police.

Overall, this movie should not be taken seriously (as with most of Jackie Chan’s movies) but offers plenty of classy acting to keep it well away from being a silly production. This movie could be considered one of the finest works of Jackie Chan to-date and did him immense credit in reaching stardom on an international-scale!

Overall Rating: 8.3/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 05/02/2003
Summary: Charming and Underrated!

I really warmed to this film. It looks great, is very funny and has loads of funky action. I rate this along Drunken Master and Police Story 1 & 3 as one of Jackie's best.

Reviewed by: Mikestar*
Date: 11/15/2002
Summary: One of Jackie's Best

These days the types of film that Jackie Chan makes are generally more suited to popcorn and Coca-cola than a regular HK viewer or martial arts fan.

In the 1980s however Jackie's films were frenetic, inventive and impressive. 'Mr. Canton and Lady Rose' is undoubtedly one of the best examples of this(and apparently one of his favourites films too).

The narrative is effectively a Hong Kong variant on the 1930s Capra style with elements of Buster Keaton and slapstick thrown in. Whilst the plot is full of nostalgic optimism and 'feelgood' comedy, its this combination with local style and action that makes this film an engaging hybrid.

Whilst the pace is chaotic as per usual for Jackie (the film is just over 90 minutes)it juxtaposes an effective mixture of action and story. The feature of developed and integrated sets (along with music and costume) ensure that the theme is consistent and entertaining.

The quality of the acting is suprsingly good for a Chan film, with Jackie wellsuited as the 'rags to riches' godfather, Anita Mui as his frustarted girlfriend and Wu Ma is a standout scene-stealer as his top adviser.

A delightfull comedy with some impressive action scenes and a continous narrtive, 'Mr. Canton and Lady Rose' is a perfect example of practical and entertaining HK cinema.

Reviewed by: Wurms
Date: 07/21/2002
Summary: One of Jackie's Best!

This movie is simply MARVELOUS!!!

This is some of Jackie's greatest work. See this movie if you like Jackie. See this movie if you like movies!

It has great comedy, a good hearted story, and some fantastic stunts and fight scenes. This is beautifully done. My favorite Jackie Chan film.


Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: Another rip off, but...

Mr Canton & Lady Rose (or 'Miracles' as the Chinese name) is a movie that could have been better if Jackie had not done everything himself.

Potentially it could have been directed a lot better, although his role as the stunt director was good, as good as Sammo Hung or Corey Yuen. A big stars cast, with loads of cameos, but it's nothing more than an action movie with an average plot and a copied story with comedy.

Definitely NOT a classic in any sense, especially for Jackie chan films, but would be worth seeing, but not sure if it's worth buying or not. I wouldn't watch it more than once.

Rating: 3/5

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 07/18/2001
Summary: Jackie flexes his directorial muscles

MIRACLES aka MR. CANTON & LADY ROSE (aka "WHEN BAD GUYS DO GOOD", as of now). This was Jackie Chan's answer to critics who said that he could only direct action films. "Oh yes, how about this?" he might have said. And indeed it is a well directed film. The basic premise is that Jackie arrives in Canton looking for work, and is immediately conned out of most of his money. He reluctantly agrees to buy a rose from a street seller, and his luck immediately changes - through a somewhat unlikely series of events he in fact becomes the head of the Canton Triads overnight.

"Lady Rose" hence becomes his good luck symbol, and he always buys a rose from her before doing anything. This seems to keep his luck intact. One day he can't find her to buy a rose, and when he tracks her down at home she is most upset. Her daughter, who has been studying abroad since an early age, is coming home with her fiance for the first time in many years. Her fiance is a very well-to-do son of a Shanghai business magnate, and her distress is due to the fact that she has been pretending to her daughter for years that she is a "lady of class", and finding out that she is just a poor street seller could break her heart and ruin the marriage. Jackie (encouraged by club singer Anita Mui) decides to help her prevent her daughter from learning the truth. This requires that he enlist the support of other Canton Triads to do something good for a change.

I found the plot rather confusing for a long time - not necessarily because Jackie's script or direction were lacking, but because I was expecting the plot to be something else. I basically assumed that the story would be a love story between Jackie and Anita Mui, which isn't the case at all. The fact that the plot seemed to leap about in bizarre ways was more to do with the fact that it didn't go where I was expecting than that the events didn't make narrative sense. Hence the reason why I've explained quite a lot of the plot here, which I wouldn't normally do but I think that in this case it will help.

The story is mostly comedy with a moral message... not necessarily a moral message that I completely agree with, but basically a good-natured message. I shouldn't have been surprised that Jackie would be more concerned with promoting social responsibility than he would with a love story really - it's quite in keeping with his character I think. The performances are good all round, with Anita Mui again showing that she knows better than any other actress out there exactly when and how to overact :-) Production values are lavish, with great sets and costumes, and Jackie going out of his way to demonstrate his camera skills. The interview on the HKL disc is quite revealing, showing scenes of Jackie setting up camera shots (and operating cameras) and working in the editing room. More respect for the chap.

Being a Jackie Chan film there is some action, but overall the film is pretty action-lite. Only 2 scenes of any length I think, but they're well choreographed and staged and Jackie shows some great moves. The final fight scene (notable for not being the final scene for a change!) is quite reminiscent of the final fight in ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA (MIRACLES came first), though not as elaborate.

Overall it's a good, quality film with a couple of nice action scenes. Not a film I think I'll want to watch over and over, but one that's definitely worth seeing.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/05/2001
Summary: Very entertaining!!

A funny movie with lots of action and stunts!!
This is a all star cast with cameo coming here and there and everywhere!!
Suprisingly moving movie too!!
I wont say much since there are so many reviews but i am a big Jackie fan and seen lots of his movies and this a must SEE!!
Look for Jackie take on Billy Chow!!
A great movie for all the family!!


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: dragyn
Date: 03/31/2001
Summary: Remake of Frank Capra Classic

"Mr. Canton and Lady Rose" is a warm-hearted, feel-good action comedy, with chocolate-box directing by Jackie Chan himself. It lacks the action-packed feel of many of Chan's more famous films, but possesses a definite, old-fashioned charm of its own.

Chan himself freely admits that he made this movie as "homage" to Frank Capra's classics, "Lady For a Day" and "A Pocket Full of Miracles". In some countries, "Mr. Canton" is even called "Miracles", after Capra's film. Personally, I'm not a great Capra fan, and I actually found Chan's version more watchable than Capra's, not because of sets of costumes or dialogue - but because of Chan himself. He is amazing, moving easily from comedy to action to drama, without missing a beat.

Interestingly, Chan wanted to use "Mr. Canton and Lady Rose" to prove that he could direct something other than just action, and he does prove his point. There are a lot of big, bold, sweeping steadicam shots, which suit the great period sets.

(10/10) for movie
(6/10) for action

Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

A Capra-esque "feel good" 30s-style T/G comedy with Jackie Chan as the poor boy with a heart of gold who, though recently arrived in town, ends up being appointed mob boss through a series of accidents and coincidences. Egged on my nightclub singer Anita Mui, he ends up using the whole mob apparatus to do a good deed for a poor flower-vendor who wants to impress her daughter whom she hasn't seen in years... (The daughter - Gloria Yip - is due to wed a wealthy and important young man in the near future, so appearances are important....) The trademark Jackie Chan impressive action-comedy choreography is all there, but he doesn't really break new ground here, as far as I can see. It's a bit reminiscent of the feel of the Project A movies, but not quite as good - in my humble opinion.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

In 1933, Frank Capra directed the movie "Lady for a Day", adapted by Robert Riskin from a Damon Runyan story "Madame La Gimp". The film starred May Robson as Apple Annie, for which she was nominated for an Oscar as Best Actress. "Lady for a Day" is a terrific comedy about a poor apple vendor (May Robson) and a racketeer (Warren William) who believes that she is his good-luck charm. When her daughter, who lives abroad and believes that her mother has been living in elegant style, comes home with her fiance and his wealthy parents, the gangster volunteers to help Apple Annie pose as a society lady. As the tangled web of deception begins to unravel, the characters become more desperate and frantic. In 1989, Jackie Chan made "Mr. Canton & Lady Rose". Though it presents a slightly altered introduction, as Jackie Chan's character is developed from poor country boy to sucessful racketeer, the film is an unmistakable remake of "Lady for a Day", with a flower vendor substituted for Apple Annie. Once the plot develops, the film settles down to become a nearly shot-for-shot remake of the original, but with an unmistakable Hong Kong twist. Hong Kong remakes of American blockbuster movies are fairly common; still, it is unusual to see a remake of a reasonably obscure relic of classic film comedy. "Mr. Canton and Lady Rose" is an obvious tribute to Frank Capra and the influence that his comedic genius, sentimentality, and unflagging optimism has had on Jackie's film career. Unfortunately, since Jackie Chan's reputation has been built upon his martial arts prowess and non-stop action sequences, this movie will probably be a disappointment to most kung-fu fans. Taken at face value as a period comedy-drama, however, it holds it own quite well. As cinematic evidence of the widespread influence of one of America's most original filmmakers, it is both interesting and entertaining. (--- contributed by

[Reviewed by Daniel]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

I was a bit disappointed with this movie as it did not contain the expected amount of humour or fighting. As usual the fight scenes that it did have were spectacular as ever. There are many quest appearances and cameos in this movie including Yuen Biao who pops up as a beggar for about 5 seconds.


[Reviewed by Dave Warner]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

A GODFATHER-inspired martial-arts thriller that's set in Hong Kong in the 1930s, where a penniless country boy rescues a mortally-wounded gang boss and inadvertently becomes his successor. As his power grows, he inevitably heads for the final conflict with the rival gangster who murdered this predecessor. A well-made Jackie Chan vehicle, fast, furious and enlivened with the occasional flash of humour.


[Reviewed by Elliot's Guide to Films on Video]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Jackie Chan inadvertently becomes the head of a gang throughlucky roses purchased from an old lady. Anita Mui is a singer at the gang's nightclub. The two try to do a good turn for the old rose-seller when her daughter comes to visit, and try to make it seem as if all the exaggerations in her letters to her daughter were true.

[Reviewed by Eric Yin]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Jackie Chan romances a lovely sophisticate with money (and covert crime links) in this diverting action adventure.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 6