Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chinese Movie Review Christmas Special: It's A Drink! It's A Bomb!

There are not a whole lot of Chinese Christmas movies.  That's actually a good thing, because it means that when Hong Kong does make a Christmas movie, it's likely to be the weirdest, most WTF Christmas movie you've ever seen.

The Gweilo's Movie Ratings for It's A Drink! It's A Bomb!
The Chinese movie review continues below this info box!
Category Rating
WTF Meter 2.8 out of 5
MST3K-Ability 4.7 out of 5
OVERALL QUALITY 3.4 out of 5
Chinese Movie It's A Drink! It's A Bomb!
Director David Chung
Actors John Shum, George Lam, Maggie Cheung
Year 1985
Format Viewed Universe DVD 5169

Also please note:  The title of this Hong Kong film is It's A Drink!  It's A Bomb!  From the Gweilo's perspective, nothing says "Merry Christmas" quite like a movie named "It's A Drink!  It's A Bomb!"

Quick!  Name some Hollywood Christmas movies!  How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, It's A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Bad Santa, and so on, right?  Hollywood has made a ton of Christmas movies over the years, and they all end up being ... well, Hollywood Christmas movies.  There are "heartwarming" Christmas movies and "funny" Christmas movies and bland combinations of the two of those.  They are cheery and Christmas-y and all, but they are never very surprising.

But then there's David Chung's It's A Drink!  It's A Bomb!

Is it a drink, or a bomb?!  Won't someone make a movie so we can find out!??!!
I bought this movie quite a while ago, but I was initially very reluctant to watch it.  That's because I simply couldn't imagine how a movie could ever be made with a title like It's A Drink!  It's A Bomb!  I mean, how would that even work?  That's not a movie title.  It wouldn't even make sense as a line of dialog in a movie.  Before reading any further, try to figure this out yourself.  And remember, it's a Christmas movie!

Like an unwrapped Christmas present, this Hong Kong movie sat unwatched on my shelf for many, many months, full of mystery, possibility, and potential.  If the world ever seemed dull, boring, or overly predictable, I could always contemplate the mystery of It's A Drink!  It's A Bomb! and feel a little better about things.  With this movie unwatched and unexplained, the world wasn't completely devoid of inexplicable wonders.

Summing up the dilemma of the film
But part of me was also curious to see if the movie would live up to its name.  So, seeing as it's the Christmas season and all, I decided to go ahead and collapse the probability waves and actually watch it to find out.  And write a movie review too, of course. 

Let's get the premise out of the way first.  There's a guy who's made some cans of soda that are actually hand grenades.

How this will change the field of modern warfare, I'm not sure.  Curiously, this movie was made almost 20 years before the TSA rules against bringing liquids on airplanes.  Maybe the TSA director is a fan of obscure, corny 1980s Hong Kong movies?

Anyway, this guy is trying to sell his soda-bombs to some evil "Japanese" villains.  The "Japanese" villains look exactly like 1980's post-punk, New Wave musicians.  In fact:

1/3 Adam Ant

2/3 Prince

This film's main "Japanese" Bad Guy.  Yes, he has a cross bow.
Trying to stop these bad guys are a heroic trio of nerdy individuals:  A taxi driver who likes to pretend he's a police man named either "Lion Head" or "Stupid Pig" (John Shum), a geologist who drives a moped named either "BoBo Lam" or "Mustache Monkey" (George Lam), and bicyclist named "Cat" or occasionally "Cake" (Maggie Cheung).

They get involved in this soda-bomb plot because of a nonsensical motorcycle / car chase and because of an equally nonsensical taxi / car / bicycle chase or two.

Ultimately, the trio ends up witnessing the bad guys murder somebody on a nonsensical giant pile of toilet paper in the middle of the woods:

Nobody is bothered that there is a giant pile of toilet paper here. 
The result of a giant camping-trip-and-chili-cook-off gone horribly wrong? 
We'll never know.
They then spend a long time trying to explain what they saw and make sense of it.

Sometimes they are too vague:

Try again with fewer pronouns.
Or they get very sidetracked:

Our heroes, being interviewed at the police station.
And often the problem is simply that they are really stupid:

Yes.  Yes they do.

Actually, this humor is handled pretty well; the who's-on-first style routines are often genuinely funny.

Additionally, because they are so clueless, our heroes often get confused as to who the bad guys are in the movie, and who the good guys are.  (The bad guys are easy to spot, but maybe our heroes aren't fans of 80s music?)  This leads to awkward situations such as stopping in the middle of a car chase to talk to the people in the other cars, asking them if they are good or bad.

Which reminds me:  This movie wins the prize for the silliest car chase scenes I've ever seen.  I'm sure you know the normal rule of Hollywood car chases:  If a car is chasing someone on foot, the car is never allowed to go faster than that person can run, and the runner is never allowed to go anywhere the car can't follow.  David Chung takes this to new levels of silliness in It's A Drink!  It's A Bomb! by having car chases so slow that the people can get out of the cars and back into them in the middle of the chase:

Having fun during a car chase scene
There's even a car chase where the lead car runs out of gas, so our heroes get out and push the car for the rest of the chase, eventually escaping!  And for some reason all the car chases in this Chinese movie are accompanied by music that sounds like it came from Mario Cart.

There's also a bunch of very silly fight scenes as well, sometimes with a holiday theme.  For example, while "Lion Head" monkeys around on a Christmas tree, "Cat" figures out a way to defuse a tense stand-off between "Mustache Monkey" and "Japanese Bad Guy".  There's a daring escape from a 7-11 (wait for the surprise at the very end).  And of course, nothing captures the Christmas spirit better, Hong Kong movie style, than Santa Claus doing Kung Fu:

Ho, Ho, Hai-YA!
Or crazy BMX-based soda stealing stunts in the midst of a stampede.

Bottom Line of this Chinese Movie Review:

Merry Christmas! 


  1. This is one of the few first that got me hooked to HK movies

  2. Thanks for your comment, AyahFaim!

    Yeah, it's pretty hard to watch this one and remain neutral about HK movies!