Fast Fingers (1983)

Directed by
Good action makes up for weak script
Reviewed by Simon on 2005-09-04

By 1983 everybody was doing comedy in Hong Kong, and Shaw Brothers were still trying to find the young star that could be their Jackie Chan. Jackie's own experiences surely should have shown that you can't become a superstar on somebody else's coat tails, but the Shaws would keep trying. FAST FINGERS was quite obviously an attempt to promote Chin Siu-Ho in this role, and whilst he's a very talented lad (and much better looking than Jackie!), Shaws didn't manage to turn him into a Kung Fu comedy star and after a few attempts they evidently gave up trying. I think the main reason Shaws never really managed to create their own Jackie Chan was that they didn't have comedy *writers* nearly as good as Golden Harvest and Cinema City. FAST FINGERS does have some funny moments, but overall the script is rather a mess, with a barely intelligible story and comedy set-pieces shoehorned in.

Chin Siu-Ho is a likeable enough lead, and does show some decent comic awareness. The funniest actor in the film by far is Bill Tung though, whose deadpan performance is excellent. He even shows some interesting promise in the fight scenes, though he's clearly doubled for anything remotely acrobatic. Chin Siu-Ho clearly *isn't* doubled though, and he shines much brighter in the fights and stunts... he was definitely one of the most talented screen martial artists working in HK, if not quite on the same level as Jackie & Yuen Biao. It's a shame his career was so up & down really - he had a few phases where he got some impressive leading roles, then seemed to drop back into supporting roles and minor films. Or perhaps he was doing more TV work in those periods, so he only had limited time for movie appearances?

Lo Meng has a fairly major supporting role, and is basically the film's straight man, which he does well. The other main actor in the film is Chiang Kam, best known from Drunken Master and Snake In The Eagle's Shadow. He's probably the second most impressive fat martial artist HK produced - though the only other fat martial artist I can thing of right now is Sammo Hung, who was orders of magnitude better, so that's not so much of an accolade I guess :p Wang Lung-Wei gives another great villainous performance, though he's not required to do much except look tough and kick some ass (which he could do in his sleep).

If it weren't for the fight scenes and the cast, FAST FINGERS would be pretty dreadful - certainly on the merits of its script it must be called a bad film. The charisma of the stars does manage to shine through the mess of the script though, and the fight choreography makes the film more than just a curio. It would probably rate higher than 6/10 if it weren't for the soundtrack, actually, which is full of "funny" music... you know the sort. Even when fairly serious stuff is going on, the soundtrack is working hard to ram "think funny" into our heads - the final fight in particular would have worked far better with proper action music, since it's not played for comedy at all. One of the few occasions when I *wish* the dvd manufacturers would have tampered with the soundtrack, and they don't :p

Overall, FAST FINGERS is not essential viewing for anybody except the fanatics and completists, but it's not one that should be actively avoided either.