Thursday, March 26, 2009

3 by Jeffrey Lau: The Haunted Cop Shop (1987), The Haunted Cop Shop 2 (1988), and Mortuary Blues (1990)

I first learned of Jeff Lau through his collaboration with a little-known Hong Kong director named Wong Kar-wai. Prior to Lau's creative collaboration with WKW on 90s classics, such as Ashes of Time and Fallen Angels, WKW would co-author two HK horror/comedy scripts from the late 80s, The Haunted Cop Shop (1987) and The Haunted Cop Shop 2 (1988). WKW would even briefly appear in the latter.

However, this blog entry ain't about WKW. I would have crossed paths with Lau in any event I'm sure, being a huge fan of HK horror/comedy. Almost every subsequent HK horror/comedy film owes a considerable debt to Sammo Hung's seminal classic Encounter of the Spooky Kind (1980), and Lau created some real gems.

The Haunted Cop Shop (1987) stars Jacky Cheung and Ricky Hui as a pair of bumbling cops on the trail of thief, "Sneaky" Ming. Like Hung's classic film, Haunted Cop Shop has the thinnest of plot lines (a Japanese general is resurrected as a vampire causing havoc in the area!) and is more a series of comedic episodes with a horror/supernatural theme. Both leads are wonderful and quite funny. Lau injects a real energy and sense of fun throughout. Highlights are ghostly Mah-jong, underwear worn upon people's heads, and a discourse on Bonzai trees. There is also a not-so-subtle lift from Tom Holland's Fright Night (1985).

The sequel, Haunted Cop Shop 2 (1988), would reunite the two leads from the original and place them amongst an ensemble cast. Again the thin plot concerns the creation of a new police unit, a "ghostbusting squad," but the plot line only serves as a framework for another series of comedic encounters. A police raid at the beginning is standout. It also has some quite offensive jokes and lacks the charm of the original but it's worth seeing.

Finally, Mortuary Blues (1990) is an even-more hyper-kinetic. incoherent film. It's also completely charming HK horror/comedy. An opera troupe arrives on an island where there is a curse. There's also a treasure hunt and a resurrected evil king. The plot soon falls to the wayside. The jokes are primarily of the toilet variety with an ample amount of sex jokes thrown in as well for good measure. Mortuary Blues is low-brow art of the highest caliber.

All three are worth a gander for fans of 80s horror, HK horror/comedy, or low-brow art. This genre is truly unique and Lau's three films are staples.

1 comment:

Emily said...

I just might have to add The Haunted Cop Shop to my queue. Hong Kong horror comedy is purdy darn fun, so keep up the recommendations of which ones to watch. Great to see your new blog!