Magnificent Scoundrels (1991)

Directed by
A great starter-Chiau film
Reviewed by Simon on 2024-06-09

Two small-time con-artists come up with a scheme to lure a rich family away from home and break in to their mansion. When the owners return home unexpectedly they luckily mistake Stephen Chiau for a rich relative they were expecting to visit from the USA, and a new scheme emerges. Unfortunately the "owners" are actually another group of con-artists, with their own scheme.

The Magnificent Scoundrels doesn't seem to be popular for some reason. It's not discussed very much, and has only a middling score on Letterboxd, despite being one of Stephen Chiau's best comedies in my opinion.

It's probably a good film to introduce people to Stephen Chiau, too, as the comedy is mostly situational rather than verbal. It contains some great gags though, and the chemistry between Chiau and Theresa Mo is almost as good as with Ng Man-Tat.

The film features arguably Amy Yip's finest performance - still very much trading on her figure, but giving her room to be a character too, and to be a partner in the comedy. Roy Cheung and Yuen Wah provide the necessary threat to keep the plot in motion, but also get to have fun in the process.

Whilst it's perhaps not as distinctive as Stephen Chiau's more famous comedies, it is smartly written and executed, and laugh out loud funny on more than one occasion. I've seen people are comparing it to Parasite, and there are some parallels, but it's definitely a comparison that can be taken too far. If it encourages more people to check the film out then I'm all for it, though!