Plain Jane to the Rescue (1982)
Reviewed by: kachun on 1999-12-09
John Woo directs and co-scripts yet another silly comedy from hisGolden Harvest days. This one seems to have even less than a plot than his others, as we follow around Jenny (Siao Fong Fong) and Fang (Ricky Hui) from job to job. Jenny is a tom-boyish woman who has trouble holding down positions, and often gets into ridiculous circumstances that result in her getting booted off the job. Fang (Ricky Hui) bumps into Jenny, and renews his old friendship with her, while at the same time deciding to initiate a romantic relationship with Jenny which never gets off the ground because he is so inept around her. Jenny finally is hired by the head of Zada (a monolithic corporation that's slowly taking over Hong Kong) to teach manners to his father, Mr. Sha (is he played by Roman Tam?). That is almost all of the plot for the movie. The film is padded out by many mildly amusing (at best) bits of slapstick. There are lots of good ideas (the _Brazil_-like corporate world where Fang works, Jenny who gets beat up constantly while working as a double for an actress on a film set, and a take-off on the "I am Spartacus . . . no, *I* am Spartacus" scene from _Spartacus_), but many of these remain undeveloped to their fullest potential, or conversely are run into the ground by repetition. The best target for the film and the audience's wrath, the Zada corporation's cold inhumanity, is never played up for more than for a few laughs. If today's John Woo were making this comedy instead of the John Woo from the early 80s, the movie would have had a more biting tone, and a better sense of pacing (and maybe a few gunbattles too!). As it is, this film does offer a die-hard Woo fan something if he/she is willing to sit through the first hour or so. The ending is manic and over-the-top, and highly appropriate for someone who would later stage a 40 minute gunbattle inside a hospital. The climax of the film, taking place inside a Hong Kong tunnel for cars crossing the harbor, has a multiple car crash; scores of people playing mah jong; a woman in labor; an arsonist holding everyone hostage; and a "music video" scene before music videos were big, where Norman (I assume this guy's real, but what's his full name?) serenades along with orchestral accompaniment to his trapped fans. Okay, so there're no gun fights, but it definitely is a chance to see John Woo letting loose with craziness that doesn't make much sense, a quantity that has disappeared from his later work (except perhaps for a little in _Once a Thief_). Just judging from the ending alone (and not the rest of the film, mind you), one might have thought Woo would have a future doing screwball comedies. The film is notable for another cameo appearance by John Woo himself, this time playing an out-of-work director at the unemployment line named Ng Yu Sum (or "John Wu" in the subtitles).