The action goes international in this third adventure, as Sam (Sam Hui), Kodyjack (Karl Maka) and Nancy (Sylvia Chang) are tricked into stealing the crown jewels by a famous British secret agent. But this mission becomes even more impossible when the partners encounter the real man from Bond Street (Peter Graves of Mission: Impossible) and some very familiar villains. From a daredevil battle atop the Eiffel Tower to a frantic underwater escape from a submarine lair, Hong Kong action master Tsui Hark delivers a Mad Mission filled with spoofs, spies and some of the series’ wildest surprises ever!
Known in Asia as Aces Go Places, the Mad Mission films became an international phenomenon by combining broad humor, explosive action and truly spectacular stunts for one of the most popular crime-comedy series in Hong Kong cinema history.
eyelights: the James Bond references.
eyesores: the editing. the weaker stunts. the poor blue-screening.
“Your Mad Mission, should you wish to accept it…”
‘Our Man From Bond Street’ is the third entry in the wacky action-comedy caper film series ‘Aces Go Places’. As with the other ones in the series, it has been cropped by approximately 10 minutes, dubbed and renamed ‘Mad Mission‘. Despite being severely hacked, this series has been quite popular in North America.
(nota bene: due to the fact that what I watched is not the original version of the picture, I decided to retain its North American title instead of reviewing it as ‘Zuijia paidang zhi nuhuang miling’, as I would normally do. After all, what I watched was something very different from the filmmakers’ original intentions.)
This particular installment finds Sam being duped by a criminal into thinking that he is being hired by the British Government to steal the Queen’s crown back from some thieves before word gets out. This man poses as a James Bond-like secret agent and has rounded up a crew that includes an Oddjob-like character as well as Richard Kiel in a rare speaking part.
Although these characters only resemble the iconic originals (ex: Kiel doesn’t wear his Jaws teeth and sports long hair), they are some of the few recurring elements from the James Bond series, including a soundtrack that hints at John Barry’s compositions and some sets that are lifted from 007 pictures, including the confused opening sequence around and atop the Eiffel Tower.
‘A Viiew to a Kill’ also had such a sequence and, although it came out afterwards, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Tsui Hark and company had overheard that it was being planned and wanted to beat them to the punch. Given how they tied the film in with the long-running franchise, it’s quite conceivable that this was a careful calculation.
The ‘Mad Mission’ version of the film, however, totally butchers the opening sequence, removing so much footage as to make it relatively incoherent; it suffers from ADHD to such an unusual degree that we don’t even know what Sam is doing in France, who these villains are, why they want to beat him up, and they often pop out of nowhere and disappear equally rapidly.
Dare to blink, and be confused forever.
Thankfully, ‘Mad Mission 3’ slows down this unrelenting pace enough that we can look down at our popcorn after the first 15 minutes or so. From then on, it’s more on par with the first two, which were already pretty frenetic – except that this one is far less stunts oriented than the others, focusing on the plot to get the job done.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a bewildering array of bizarrely out-of-place stunts, like that of the rooftop motorcycle chase, or poorly-designed stunts like the escaping rikshaw that blows up for no apparent reason other than to have co-star Peter Graves sit in the middle of the road next to a toppled food stand with chickens in both of his hands.
Yes, that Peter Graves.
I don’t know how the producers of ‘Mad Mission 3’ managed to get Graves on top of getting away with all the 007 riffing that they did (as well as the inevitable Mission: Impossible one), but they had him on board for long enough that he makes his presence felt. He doesn’t get a lot of lines and he’s not essential to the plot, but he’s all there, in the flesh.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! (I hope it wasn’t because he’d lost credibility after having made the two ‘Airplane!‘ movies…)
Anyway, ‘Mad Mission 3’ has Sam contrive to bring his friend Kody Jack into the story so as to set up an alibi for himself. There is no reason for it other than to reintroduce the nutty character and then, by extension, his terse and jealous wife. After all, the series revolves around the trio and it wouldn’t do to go on a kooky adventure without them.
Déjà vu? Well, that is true. However, two elements distinguish this one from the rest: the afore-mentioned James Bond references, and the fact that it’s less stunt-intensive. These two elements may not seem that notable, but they change the tone of the picture quite dramatically, finding ‘Mad Mission’ trying to impress more with set pieces and locales than with acrobatics.
It also focuses on special effects work a bit more, too. Although the last film had ill-conceived sequences featuring dinky robots, this one has Sam flying about on some gadgety contraption, with Kodyjack in tow, as well as a huge Jaws-like submarine, complete with a large, pointy, chomping maw and a light show during one of the heists. Perhaps the filmmakers were tiring of the stuntwork.
Either way, it doesn’t make the film better than its forbears. At least not by much. The script is still extremely loose, the performances are as campy as ever, and the directing shows very little finesse. It’s not quality filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination – it’s meant to be a riotous blast, and it succeeds on that level alone, even as it tests the patience of more refined cinemagoers.
‘Mad Mission, part III: Our Man On bond Street’ is a frantic, unrelenting action-comedy that could only come out of Hong Kong in the ’80s. It doesn’t take itself seriously and shouldn’t be taken seriously either. With that in mind, it will likely please the more playful and/or forgiving adults and surely amuse the youngsters. As with the other entries in the series, I wish I had seen it in my youth; I would surely have been mad about it.
Date of viewing: July 7, 2013