LsQ (1988)
Paper Marriage

Reviewed by: Masterofoneinchpunch
Date: 01/28/2017
Summary: Sex maniacs, porno representatives. I'm excited to see you!

Romantic comedies are generally a pretty predictable subgenre of films. There are certainly some good ones out there like When Harry Met Sally (1989), Say Anything (1989) though most tend to be middling affairs that follow some very basic pattern like boy meets girl (usually through a “meet cute”), boy almost woos girl, boy does something stupid to upset girl, boy must have dramatic scene in last act sometimes involving Peter Gabriel music to win back girl. Here we have a scenario where the entire plot is based on getting two unlikely people together: a needed green card (done earlier in Come Live with Me (1941), and done later in Green Card (1990) and The Proposal (2009).) Hilariously this is supposed to be taking place in Los Angeles. However, they go the races at the Northlands in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Frank Lee’s Martial Arts Studio is in Edmonton and even more hilarious is the famous West Edmonton Mall.

Bo Chin (Sammo Hung) needs money after losing at the horse races, his current alimony to his ex-wife (real life future wife Joyce Godenzi) and previously owing money to low level gangsters whose Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses make them look like they were rejected from the casting call of Magnum P.I. He is a misogynist curmudgeon who never takes a bath and, of course, will be redeemable by the end of the film (I do not know about the bath thing though.) He takes a job as an acupuncture guinea pig. Do not expect it to go well. Off to Frank Lee’s Martial Arts studio where he visits Uncle Tsai (Frank Lee). Tsai does not give him great hope for money as Chin is a shell of his former kickboxing self but does give him an idea. A sham marriage which he whispers into his ear which makes absolutely no sense because there is no one in the room. Meanwhile Jade Lee (Maggie Cheung) is leaving Hong Kong for the United States to be with her boyfriend Peter (Alfred Cheung who also happens to be the director) who is more interested in her money than her. He wants her to be part of a fake marriage. We know who with.

Unfortunately Peter takes off with the money putting both Jade and Bo into a bad situation. They need money. They get some as a couple for the same Psychological Research center proving that women can take more punishment then men. But still not enough. Bo has to get back into fighting, eventually having a match with his wife’s new beau (Billy Chow) and Jade decides to try her hand at mud wrestling. Now she can get 2000 dollars per mud wrestling match. That is crazy unless they were thinking Hong Kong dollars. I would do that (either American or Hong Kong dollars or a free cup of tea.)

But the last act (or I think we need to pad more time to the film and involve some action sequences) takes the film into even more worn territory plot wise as it includes the “getting the wrong suitcase/duffel bag/satchel switcheroo” scenario. How this happens strains any sense of credibility, but try not to think about it. The two end up with a lot of money they have dreamed about, but like the duffel bag in No Country for Old Men that baggage comes with a price. But here for most of us viewers the fun begins, especially when Dick Wei shows up in his Miami Vice couture. Then the film is fight and stunt bliss, especially in the West Edmonton Mall. Though I am rooting for Dick Wei strictly because of his attire, that and being the former head of the Venoms Clan.

Action aficionados might be disappointed by the straight-up boxing match between Phillip Ko and Hung. It is a bit weird. Ko has trouble throwing a legitimately looking jab and cross. It just looks awkward. You can see him push the arm instead of snapping it across and his balance is off. This is probably why it is filmed too close up. They also make the big mistake of going slow-motion after a bad punch. Never do this it exaggerates the poorly delivered hit. This is not a particular high point in either of their fight choreographies. The mud wrestling match is pretty much a squash. But the ringed kickboxing match between Hung and Billy Chow does fare better. Now I do not think Hung would ever win that type of match with Chow with him being a kickboxing champion and still competing at the time of the filming, but it does look a lot better than the one with Ko. Chow was trained by Frank Lee at the time and, of course, was in Edmonton at the time. He impressed Sammo Hung in this which helped lead to bigger and better roles (or at least more acting jobs) like Fist of Legend.* But the last act is the strongest with action. There are a couple of nice stunts, especially the fall through the glass, bouncing off an awning and then not bouncing off the ground for one stunt man. You get a nice showing of Billy Chow versus the late real-life kickboxer Tony Morelli and much more.

Overall the movie is pleasant enough. Some of the funniest scenes involve the guinea pig research. The action is sporadic, sometimes bad, and sometimes really good. In the filmography of Sammo Hung it is filler. It does not reach the lows of his later films like Don’t Give a Damn, but I do not think many will prefer this to Dragon’s Forever or Pedicab Driver. But to be fair I do not know the filmography of the director Alfred Cheung that well. Too much of the plot is cliché as it revolves around a “Green Card” angle and then a “mistaken baggage” subplot. But you could probably get away with watching this or Heroes of the East with your non-martial arts supporting significant other. Especially if they have forced you to watch too many romantic comedies. The horror, the horror.

I viewed this on the Universe R0/NTSC DVD release. It has decent English subtitles along with Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified and Bahasa. There are two audit tracks: Mandarin and Cantonese (my preferred for this.) There is the Trailer and More Attractions (Where’s Officer Tuba; Shanghai, Shanghai; The Owl vs Bombo).

* Now if you are looking at release dates this statement may confuse you. The film was released in 1988, but filmed in 1986 (I am not sure why the delay.) Billy Chow had done a couple of roles before, but this was a big break because it led to Sammo Hung hiring him again which then lead to more work.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 10/14/2008

In Paper Marriage, Sammo Hung plays Bo, an ex-kickboxer who has fallen into debt via his gambling habits and the alimony demanded by his ex-wife (Joyce Godenzi, Sammo's spouse in real life). So when Bo's friend hatches a plan for him to enter into a sham marriage so that Jade (Maggie Cheung) can get her green card, Bo accepts. But Jade's actual fiancee, Peter (Alfred Cheung) himself gambles away the money that was to go to Bo, and so the reluctant couple find themselves taking odd jobs to make ends meet.

Bo subjects himself to medical experiments and competes in underground kickboxing matches. Jade tries to add some cash of her own, but after being humiliated during a mud-wrestling contest, she decides to go back to Hong Kong. Just as things seem to be at their lowest, Bo and Jade stumble upon a bag full of money. Trouble is, though, that it's actually the property of a notorious drug dealer (Dick Wei).

Paper Marriage subscribes to the Hong Kong "golden age" art of film-making all the way, mixing in just about every genre in the book. Probably the only thing missing here are some hopping vampires. But there are mimes and people dressed as Native Americans thrown in, which comes off as lame as it sounds. Honestly, the comedic portions of the movie aren't anything great, but the proceedings are made much more tolerable with Sammo and Maggie's chemistry.

They obviously got along behind the scenes, and that feeling translates on to the screen. Even though it seems like a minor point, that sort of thing makes jokes that revolve around Sammo's bathroom habits or him running around in his tighty whities actually not come off as the duds they really could have been, and make the film much more enjoyable as a whole.

Some note should also probably be made of the aforementioned mud-wrestling scene, which seems to be the reason many people have checked out this film. Sadly to say for you all of you pervs out there, the scene is not played for cheesecake, and actually comes off as a bit heart-wrenching.

At this point of her career, Maggie Cheung was getting tired of "cutie-pie" roles, and wanted to be taken as a serious actress, which she did manage to accomplish later the same year with Wong Kar-Wai's As Tears Go By. One gets the sense that she was channeling a lot of those emotions of conflict into this scene, which ends up making it fairly powerful, if a bit melodramatic.

As for the action, as you might expect with Sammo, Yuen Wah, and Lam Ching-Ying handling the direction, it's solid stuff. Unfortunately, it feels like there could, and should, have been more of it. There are a handful of boxing matches during the first two acts which are well-done, but over far too quickly, particularly the showdown between Sammo and Billy Chow.

The final act does ratchet things up, with Sammo and Maggie facing off against Dick Wei while being chased through a huge mall. Even Maggie takes a few impressive bumps, and Chin Kar-Lok (as one of Dick Wei's thugs) lands a sweet-looking somersault kick that'll make your teeth rattle. Sammo and Dick Wei do get in some tight and hard fisticuffs, which should satisfy fans of both actors' work.

While it doesn't do anything spectacularly, Paper Marriage has that special Hong Kong magic of being able to draw in several different genres together for a good film. Yes, it does meander during some of the exposition, and the comedy isn't firing on all cylinders, overall, Paper Marriage is one of the better movies of the genre this reviewer has seen in some time.

[review from]

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: leepifer
Date: 08/28/2007
Summary: Not the standard HK'movie

Maggie Cheung is a loveable immigrant who has to marry Sammo Hung to get a green card for staying with her fiance in USA !
Classic technique but when our improbable couple have to live together, things get complicated as Sammo can't stand feminine presence since his divorce.
He's got debts and even finding a great amount of money is no solution.

Alchemy between Maggie and Sammo is surprisingly good and comedics scenes are effectives as Maggie is often the victim of the gags.They've been without mercy for her, make her test toilet'jump head or mud-wrestling!Worth to see that!

Interesting to see an outside HK plot where Sammo Hung is sincerely good in what it should be a non action role.But the second part of the movie turns to be an action'one and Sammo has to fight for his honour in a boxing ring.
The match with Billy Chow is well made although not impressive, but but rather realistic. Money's plot give a sufficient amount of brutal fight scenes for a dynamic ending against Dick Wei and where Maggie is involved(especially her stunt-double) in the fight along Sammo.
With a good base'plot, little romance and good end action, this film gives Sammo and Maggie a good interaction opportunity to have originals and interesting roles.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/20/2006
Summary: Mud Wrestling Maggie!

Perhaps understandably overlooked Sammo Hung film from 1988. Had the film been made after his disturbing slide into mediocrity and offensiveness, this would probably be regarded as a career highlight.

Basically a tale of a marriage of convenience that eventually becomes the real thing, Paper Marriage favours humour and story over action. However, the action that is here is all good stuff. Particularly the scenes involving Billy Chow – he really does look incredible. Also worth a mention is his character, which is not your average cardboard cut-out bad guy – he actually comes across as a real person.

And of course you’ve got Maggie Chung wrestling in mud.

What more could you ask for?

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 03/08/2006
Summary: like 'green card', but good...

sammo hung is broke, he owes money to loansharks and is one step awy from becoming a human punchbag at his uncle's gym. maggie cheung has just left hong kong with a bag of money, she's off to canada to meet her fiance, but first she's got to use the money to pay someone to marry her, so she can get a green card.

so, lucky sammo ends up marrying maggie, but her fiance runs away with the money as he has huge gambling debts; this leaves sammo and maggie broke and annoyed. the two set off to make some money; maggie mud-wrestles, whilst sammo fights in illegal tournaments (conventional boxing and muay thai), before a really random end with a big fight!

it's all fun, there's a nice dynamic between maggie and sammo and i found myself gently chuckling for a good amount of the film. nice...

Reviewed by: Frank Lakatos
Date: 12/08/2005
Summary: Sammo Hung's best moder action comedy ever

This is Sammo Hung's best modern comedy movie ever, besdies his Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao collaborations. He and Maggie Cheung act the heck out of each other, the fights are scenes are brutal, the loud kickboxing effects are LOUDER than usual, which gives the fight scenes more edge and impact(thanks to a beautiful transfer from Universe DVD), the keyboard music score is cool and beautiful, Philip Ko and Billy Cheung fight Sammo in the ring, while Sammo and Billy fight Dick and his Canadian goons in that giant Vancouver mall, in an exceptional and lengthy final fight, where Sammo fights Wei and loses, then Bill Chow fights Wei in a superkickers match, which is short, but brutal, as Sammo wa sgoing for quality over quantity in his modern day movies at the time. The are problems with the setting, as Sammo says he is in LA, while he then says to Dick Wei, "Meet me at the Vancouver mall", or something like that. Besides that error, this is an excellent HK action comedy, and one of Hung's last quality movies. Superior. *****/*****

Reviewed by: Wurms
Date: 07/21/2002
Summary: Great fun movie!

Another Sammo movie without much action, but what action is here, is great!

This movie has lots of great comedy too. Sammo and Maggie are great together and will definitley make you laugh.

The Sammo vs Billy Chow kickboxing match is really good. Wow, Billy Chow impresses me more and more everytime I see him. He is so powerful with his kicks. Sammo is smooth and perfect as ever.

Watch this movie, you'll laugh until the end, then be amazed at the action.


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/13/2002
Summary: Quite good

Firstly, I pretty much agree with what 'Sydneyguy' said about this movie. It was very funny at times, but not much more than an average '80s HK comedy'. Both Maggie Cheung and Sammo Hung are amoung my favorite stars when it comes to HK comedy movies, and this is no exception. The story is a little bit different but still a bit familiar to something I've seen before I think, but still, Alfred Cheung who directed it, usually comes up with good ideas, and this is pretty good. The cast is just about right, I can't think of a more odd couple than these two, and that's great!

Would recommend this to anyone pretty much, but not sure if many would want to buy it, I did, and I do watch it now and then still.

Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewed by: SBates
Date: 01/20/2001
Summary: Maggie Gets Dirty

Yeah, Maggie gets down and dirty in the muuuuud. Oooh lala. The highlight of an overall unexceptional picture, except for a stunning aerial=windmill kick done by stuntman Chin kar Lok in the last 15 mins.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 08/17/2000
Summary: Above Average

Wow a movie where you see Maggie Cheung Mud wrestle!!

The movie is in 2 parts,
One where Maggie is sent to USA but a marriage is arranged so that Maggie can stay in the USA if she marries Sammo.
Problems arise when Maggie's fiance can not pay Sammo back............

Second part is where Sammo and Maggie find a lot of money...........

This is a light heart comedy action. There are some funny parts in this and the action is good at times, but
something was missing in this movie.

I think the combination of action and comedy didn't fit this movie. Looked like the movie was designed more for comedy and the action sort of wrecks the mood of the movie.

Overall, not a bad movie


Reviewed by: jfierro
Date: 12/21/1999

Even though there is a completely unnecessary additional plot about stolen money at the end, this film has its heart in the right place. Sammo and Maggie are great as a couple of outsiders just trying to survive.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Set in Canada, a down-on-his-luck Chinese boxer (Samo Hung)accepts promise of payment to marry a Hong Kong woman (Maggie Cheung) so she can get Canadian citizenship. They realize too late that they have been set up in a complicated plan to cheat them out of the woman's money. Their adventures begin when Samo is forced back into the ring and Maggie tries her hand at mud-wrestling!

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]