Running Out of Karma: The Fun, the Luck and the Tycoon

Running Out of Karma is my on-going series on Johnnie To, Hong Kong and
Chinese-language cinema. Here is an index.

Following up on the smash hit that was All About Ah-long, Johnnie To went back to television for a two-part film called The Iron Butterfly. I haven’t been able to track it down, but it looks to be a modern cop/Triad thriller, with Anthony Wong and Mark Cheng and action choreography by Yuen Bun, all of whom will resurface later in To’s career. His next theatrical feature was 1990’s Lunar New Year comedy The Fun, the Luck and the Tycoon, a loose remake of Eddie Murphy’s hit Coming to America that reunited To with Ah-long stars Chow Yun-fat and Sylvia Chang. While not the box office smash of To’s last two films with Chow, it was a financial success, but nonetheless was the last time the two stars would work with To until 2015’s Office. It’s an amiable film, lacking the hard, frankly unlikable, edge of To’s previous comedies, while at the same time demonstrating none of their daring. It’s the first truly ‘safe’ film he ever made.

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