All The Wrong Spies (1983)

Directed by
Pleasant and enjoyable sequel
Reviewed by Simon on 2001-09-16

This movie is a sequel to Tsui Hark's first foray into popular cinema, All The Wrong Clues (FOR ALL THE RIGHT SOLUTIONS). I haven't seen Tsui's effort, sadly, but I've generally heard that it is better than the sequel. That's not to say that Teddy Robin has made a bad film, however - there aren't many people out there that wouldn't end up in Tsui Hark's shadow when they follow one of his works.

ATWS is a comedy based around spying and intrigue after the formula for a nuclear bomb is stolen from Germany, by a Jewish spy, who arranges to sell it to the USA in Hong Kong. Why Hong Kong? Because his Nanny taught him Mandarin, apparently. Drawn into the intrigue are bumbling PI George Lam and even more bumbling cop Teddy Robin. Add in a couple of Nazi spies in black macs and hats, Tsui Hark himself as a Japanese agent called Hiroshima, and above all Bridget Lin as a super-sexy kung-fu thief/spy, and you've got the makings of much mayhem. The film is all played for laughs, and I found it pretty amusing (at least nobody gets groped or raped here). I think a lot of the jokes had been done before, but I was pleased enough with their presentation here. I laughed quite a bit.

As with much of Cinema City's output, there is a vaguely feminist tone in there. Bridget is basically the only intelligent and competent character in the whole situation, and the password that reveals to the good secret agents that they can trust each other is "I Am A Woman". Whilst this may have just been for slightly overdone comedy situations, I suspect it has subtext too.

The film has nice production values for the 1939 setting, and it's always nice to see Tsui Hark on screen - especially looking this dapper. It's a nice early role for Bridget Lin too, a far cry from her Invincible Asia days. Heck, it's a pleasant enjoyable film basically. The comedy may not be original, but it's a huge relief after the Lucky Stars films... except for the final joke of the whole film, which is in shockingly bad taste! Oh well :-)