Starring Jet Li, Wen Zhang, Michelle Chen, Lui Yan, Stephen Fung, Grace Huang, Fung Hak On, Wu Jing, Collin Chou, Leung Sui-Lung,
Fight Choreography by Corey Yuen
Directed by Wong Tsz Ming
Badges of Fury is perhaps the funniest comedy in Jet Li’s filmography, and for someone who doesn’t do it often, Jet really works here, but don’t be surprised that while his name is at the head of the credits, he is a supporting actor in this film, and Wen Zhang is the star. Of course, the first thing you have to do to best enjoy this film is to understand that the film is a comedy from the outset, a spoof of the kung-fu cop genre.
Around Hong Kong, a slew of actors, dancers, and the wealthy, all of them men, die of unknown circumstances, except that they were smiling at the time of death. Enter Huang Fei Hung (Li) an about to be retired cop, and Wang (Zhang) his overeager young partner are assigned to the case, even after botching up a major crime bust that could have net them a major gangster (great cameo appearance here by Collin Chou, acting like he stepped off the set of Flashpoint). What follows is wrong leads, bike chases, spoofs or mentions of films like Police Story 1, 2 and 3, and in one funny scene, a group of Interpol agents accuse Jet Li of BitTorrenting Fearless and the Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. Their leads take them to one woman who is connected to all of the murdered men, and of course things go sideways, including a fight between Jet Li and Wu Jing, and wait until you see exactly who Wu Jing is playing. I can’t reveal any more of the story without giving away any other jokes!
The film is just out and out fun. Jet is really game here, playing the grizzled vet who is always mysteriously asking to go home early. Jet is energized, and looks great. Wen Zhang is able to carry the film, doing most of the funny stuff and is able to bounce jokes off of Jet well. Collin Chou and Wu Jing have “fighting” cameos, but perform well in their screen time. Leung Sui-Lung is great as well, but doesn’t really get his performance going until late, playing a character not unlike the one he played in Kung Fu Hustle. The film has scenes that reminded me of the whacked out stuff Stephen Fung did in his Tai Chi Zero series (Of course, he has a small part in this film), like the hilarious entrance of the femme fatale played to perfection by Lui Yan.
Corey Yuen choreographed the fights here, and did a great job. The fights were able to match the silliness of the rest of the film, but delivered some good kung fu fights. Jet versus Wu Jing was good, as was Jet vs. Collin Chou. Wen Zhang does a good job and gets the more “out there” fights, but does it well. The final fight between Jet Li and Leung Sui-Lung leaves all believability at the door for a fight that uses a lot of wire work and special effects, but they fit the escalating fantasy of the film. I said Jet was more of a supporting character, and he is, but the lion’s share of the fights go to him, just as it should.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8
Jet Li and Wen Zhang take us on a hilarious romp through the “kung fu” cop genre, and fight choreographer Corey Yuen pulls out the stops to make this one of the best kung fu comedies to come around in a long while!
Badges of Fury is out today from the good folks at Wellgo USA!