92 Legendary La Rose Noire (1992)

Directed by
High grade nonsense
Reviewed by Simon on 2024-05-02

Failing writer Butterfly and her friend witness a gangland killing and leave a message signed by the heroine of a 1965 Chor Yuen movie as a diversion from their own presence - BLACK ROSE. Unfortunately this backfires and they end up on the run from cops and gangsters alike, until an unlikely rescue by the real-life Black Rose, who is not happy about having her name brought back into the public eye... when she can remember who she is.

Legendary La Rose Noire is a classic mo lei tau comedy from the golden era for that uniquely Hong Kong style, and from one of its premiere proponents, Jeff Lau. With its quick-witted fusion of spoof, slapstick and unpredictable detours and developments, the film achieves that fine balance of being dumb and smart at the same time that makes comedy tick.

The cast are all game for the nonsense, with Maggie Siu being the straight man for Teresa Mo and Tony Leung Ka-Fai to play the fool off, whilst Wong Wan-Si plays a similar role for Petrina Fung Bo-Bo - clearly enjoying the opportunity to send up the films of her childhood.

The plot is largely irrelevant, nobody is on the edge of their seat wondering how the heroes are going to escape their predicament or find true love or whatever, it's just a framework into which to inject the gags. Characters are more important, and they are a colourful bunch.

Tony Leung Ka-Fai is something of a revelation, or was at the time, as he wasn't known for comedy but reveals a gift for it here. He sends up his suave persona with a beautifully dead pan delivery.

The film spawned a sequel with a different cast a few years later, called more simply Black Rose II. It is even better. There was a pseudo-sequel in 2004, Protege De La Rose Noire, somewhat inexplicably co-directed by Donnie Yen and starring Ekin Cheng and Twins. It is less good.