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霹靂大喇叭 (1986)
Where's Officer Tuba?

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 01/14/2008
Summary: Funny, funny, funny

Cowardly cop Tuba (Sammo Hung) is content to play in the police orchestra for a living and leave the real police work to others. Unfortunately, his unconventional looks and manner make him an ideal candidate for an undercover mission headed by “Rambo” Chow (David Chiang) to bring down an extortion ring. Chow is promptly killed in action, but not before harassing a promise out of Tuba that he will avenge his death and bring the gang to justice. Tuba reneges on the promise, which makes Chow’s mischievous spirit manifest itself to Tuba, and the ghost (which only Tuba can see or hear) makes a thorough nuisance of itself until he and his over-ambitious rookie roommate Cheung (Jacky Cheung) swing into action. Tuba also tries to woo supermarket manager Joanne (Joey Wong), who thinks he’s a pervert, and whose parents think he’s a deranged idiot.

WHERE'S OFFICER TUBA? is Hong Kong Cinema’s best-kept secret. Generally overlooked by Sammo’s fans in favour of more obviously action-packed fare like EASTERN CONDORS or PEDICAB DRIVER, it’s also overlooked by comedy fans put off by the thought of watching a “kung fu” movie. It is a comedy first and foremost, and despite the inclusion of some awesome action stars from both the 70’s and 80’s (Sammo Hung, Hwang Jang Lee, David Chiang, Yuen Wah and Chang Yi all in the same movie?!) it’s the humour that wins the day.

The film’s greatest strength is the excellent script from the late Barry Wong, who certainly could knock together something simple but enjoyable. Here, he comes up something that packs more into its 92-minute running time than you can credit on first viewing, and the humour is very well written. Take the pier scene, for example: Sammo is picked to meet the extortionists and drop off their ransom money. There follows a string of gags that all hit their target as Sammo deadpans through misunderstandings and knowing references to espionage thrillers. And this is all before any of the ghostly shenanigans kick off.

It’s surprising that the main event – David Chiang appearing only to Sammo and ruining his life by manipulating his actions and making him look like an idiot – doesn’t really start until about an hour into the movie, but when it does, it’s hilarious. Sammo refuses to help the ghost of Chow seek revenge, so he runs amok when Sammo visits his prospective parents-in-law. It’s a scene that should write itself, and it does to a large degree, but even on the umpteenth viewing I still find myself laughing out loud at it.

The climax, where Sammo and Jacky Cheung (in his first movie appearance, I believe) take down the bad guys (this time with the help of Chow’s spirit) is as good as any action movie from the 80’s, and the inclusion of Hwang Jang Lee means there’s some mean legwork on display. But there’s not enough of it to really make this a contender as an action movie, and it’s the laughs that are the most memorable.

There are a surprising amount of puns and Cantonese wordplay in this film which obviously don’t translate, but even a passing knowledge of the dialect will be enough for you to get a couple of the more childish jokes. I wish someone would do a proper release of this film with remastered subtitles as, if memory serves, the subtitles on the Universe DVD are identical to the original VHS “Chinese and English” release and are particularly poor. Along with the usual spelling mistakes, typos and grammatical problems, there are some strange translations - such as when two characters talk about someone being “successfully raped”, which is just plain odd. It also helps to have some knowledge of Chinese superstitions, as on first viewing I thought the ending was very Deus Ex Machina, only to find a particular method for dispelling ghosts is all part of Chinese folklore.

WHERE'S OFFICER TUBA? was remade in 1990 as LOOK OUT, OFFICER with Stephen Chow, which seems a mouth-watering prospect but sadly it didn’t realise its potential. And it has to be mentioned that WHERE'S OFFICER TUBA? at times bears an uncanny resemblance to Wu Ma’s THE DEAD AND THE DEADLY, which also starred Hung as a man possessed by the spirit of a dead man only he can see. But for my money, WHERE'S OFFICER TUBA? is by far the funniest and most enjoyable of Hong Kong’s “invisible man” comedies.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 02/18/2007

“Where’s Officer Tuba” is a movie that tells the story of an ordinary man who gets thrown into the middle of some extraordinary situations. Much of its charm is that Sammo Hung, as Tuba, remains a very reluctant hero even while his sidekick Cheung, played by Jacky Cheung at his least annoying, is rushing into danger and the supercop Sergeant Rambo is taking on gangs of armed thugs. Tuba does what makes sense when confronted with a cleaver wielding maniac. He hides behind a car and tries to compress his substantial bulk into a very small space in trying to stay out of sight. He doesn’t want to shoot back when fired upon by bad guys since it will just make them more angry with him. Tuba takes the sensible approach to fighting crime—why bother getting hurt, there will always be plenty of crime to for everyone to deal with. The movie goes back and forth between violent police action movie and romantic comedy but is so perfectly paced and with such engaging characters that we are happy to go along for the ride.

Tuba is a musician in the police band. He spends time at the local supermarket where he harasses the manager through the closed circuit security system and tries to pick up a young cashier. He has a bunch of goofy friends who set him up with women he doesn’t like and who try to use him as a cover for their own philandering. His flat mate is just back from the Police Academy. He likes playing in the band, likes to cook for his friends and generally has an uneventful but not unsatisfying life. Until someone blows up the Chairman’s Bentley and he meets Joanne, the new manager at the supermarket. Since Joanne is played by the then 20 year old Joey Wong, one smile from her (which Tuba doesn’t get until late in the scene in which they “meet cute”) is worth a fleet of flaming automobiles.

Tuba falls hard for Joanne and is unwittingly drafted into the police plan to disrupt an extortion attempt against the Chairman on the same eventful evening. He has only one qualification for his assignment, that he looks nothing like a police officer. His superiors think so little of him that they don’t tell him he is part of sting operation—he believes he is doing a favor for another officer and delivering a suitcase to an unknown person on the ferry dock at midnight.

Three scenes on the dock that night are tiny masterpieces. In each of them Tuba thinks he has met the person getting the suitcase—the first is a guy waiting for his girlfriend who Tuba approaches, telling him he is cool. The guy becomes very angry very quickly but his girlfriend shows up and they leave with the audience allowed to make up its own mind why he was so quick to anger.

The second happens behind Tuba—a couple is taking photographs of each other and Tuba hears someone telling (he assumes) him to stand still, not move and not look over here, which he doesn’t. Now following orders exactly, he also smiles, fixes his hair and acts sexy at the unseen photographer’s command.

The last of the three is with a guy in phone booth who needs change for a call. Once again Tuba thinks he has met his contact and once again he has simply encountered a member of the public. In this case, however, before the person who needed change can make his call the phone rings and he is told to give the phone to the fat guy holding the suitcase.

These scenes take place in two and one-half minutes and each is paced perfectly, always ending to end a beat before they need to and blending perfectly into the next. They are quick throw-aways that are hilarious in themselves and which take the plot from point A, with Tuba on the ferry dock, to point B, with Tuba dealing with armed gangsters in the shadows of a warehouse. It also moves from comedy with suspense to murderous action in a flash when Sgt. Rambo intervenes into the unequal fight. He literally shoots one criminal out of the sky and is faring well in hand to hand combat with tough enforcers when the head of the gang arrives armed with a shotgun. Tuba, always true to his nature, has found a good place to hide, keeping well away from the fists and flying lead.

His problems really begin when he tries to return to his former safe and slow-paced life. Having been involved in, however reluctantly, the heroism of Sgt. Rambo he is forced to avenge him. His instrument becomes enchanted, deciding to play what it wants to and he is haunted by the ghost of his Rambo after he reneges on his promise to avenge him. He finally gets the courage to ask Joanne for a date only to have the ghost show up as an uninvited and most unwelcome extra guest, visible only to him.

Everything is a disaster during the scenes with Joanne and her parents since the ghost makes it clear he will make Tuba’s life miserable until he keeps his vow. Joanne’s mother is ready to like her daughter’s suitor and her father shows the patience and forbearance of St. Francis of Assisi as Tuba insults him, smashes furniture and throws a cake at him. We are sufficiently taken with Sammo’s depiction of this character that we share his joy when Joanne assents to the date and are devastated along with him when she throws him out, handing back his gift of oranges as she slams the door on him. Some of these scenes drag a bit when watched at home on DVD but they may have been perfectly timed for a doubled over with laughter audience in a crowded cinema.

What has to happen, of course, is that this ordinary—or even unworthy—man must prove his courage to win the girl and placate the ghost. He has to do what earlier he wouldn’t even think of—he puts himself in danger and acts courageously and selflessly in the face of peril.

Highly recommended

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 07/24/2006
Summary: Great stuff

This hidden gem is a great comedy/action movie and it has the high quality trademarks of a Sammo Hung production.

My only critism of this movie, with many comedy/action movies, is when the action is too violent, i feel its doesnt mix well with the comedy aspect.

There was a reviewer which said it reminds him of "look out officer" and i agree but this is the better movie.

The action quality is high and quick, the comedy is mostly funny

This is Jacky Cheungs first movie also and he does well in his first role.
Look out for a young Joey Wong.

With movies like this no longer being made in hong kong, findng a gem like this just tells me there are just plenty of movies out there we all havent seen and the age of the movie should not put you off from watching it!!

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 03/08/2006
Summary: my new favourite film...

tuba (sammo hung) is a bachelor who plays tuba in the police band: he doesnt want for much, just a quiet life and a nice girl. cheung (jacky cheung), tuba's flat-mate, has just finished his police training and can't wait to hit the streets, however, he is assigned to inter-office document delivery. so cheung, wanting a more active role in the police, gets tuba involved in an extortion case, utilising the fact that he doesn't look like a cop.

unfortunately, the pay-off goes wrong and, super-cop, rambo chow (david chiang) is seriously wounded and dies in tuba's arms. tuba promises to avenge chow, but soon forgets as he attempts to lead a quite life and woo of joanne (joey wong), the manager of his local supermarket. things seem to be looking up for tuba, but the spirit of rambo chow has other plans...

as it was sammo's fifty-sixth birthday yesterday, i thought i'd dip into his back-catalogue for my evening's entertainment. it didn't take long to decide on 'where's officer tuba?'. it is one of my favourite sammo films and an example of hong kong action / comedy at it's best. sammo is, simply, great as tuba; he's funny, totally sympathetic and kicks arse when required.

the film, itself, manages to mix an extortion case and tuba's romance seamlessly; blending comedy, action and ghostly antics in a way that only hong kong can. there's plenty of laughs, with tuba bumbling his way though life, and equally good fight sequences to boot.

as well as sammo, jacky cheung makes a strong feature film debut and is ideally suited for the role of an over zealous, young, cop. david chiang seems to be having a lot of fun, as the ghost of rambo chow, and joey wang is as super-cute as she always is. there's also a lot of nice little cameos scattered throughout.

great stuff...

Reviewed by: Frank Lakatos
Date: 12/08/2005
Summary: An excellent light weight HK comedy

This movie has Sammo doing some hilarious comedy and the final fight between Hung, Hwang Jang Lee, and Chang Yi is decent. The audio from the Universe DVD is flawed, as the loud kickboxing effects are dulled for some reason. Plenty of comedic skits, full of cameos from HK regulars, and the beautiful Joey Wong. An excellent light weight HK comedy. ****/*****

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 02/15/2003
Summary: Enjoyable

It seems to me that it's not an unreasonable ambition to watch every movie that Sammo Hung has been involved with, because experience suggests that anything he touches tends to be several notches more enjoyable than the average movie. WHERE'S OFFICER TUBA features Sammo in the title role, and also as producer.

Sammo plays a cowardly cop called Tuba, who gets caught up in a case involving a gang of extortionists. When the officer leading the case is fatally shot, his dying wish is for Sammo to take vengeance. Sammo decides this is much too dangerous and pretends he never heard it, but when the cop's spirit starts haunting him he is forced to get involved.

WHERE'S OFFICER TUBA? is one of those typical 80's D&B productions that mixes in a little bit of everything except coherency, with very variable results. We get a motley mixture of slapstick physical humour, where Sammo excels, farce that is occasionally funny but mostly just dumb, and sexist/misogynistic humour that is downright distasteful. It's sad that many of Sammo's movies from the 80's feature pretty bad attitudes towards women. WHERE'S OFFICER TUBA is at least not too bad though, and doesn't totally revolve around it like the MY LUCKY STARS series.

The script for the movie is sketchy - by which I mean that there is the main plot arc that fills maybe 30% of the run time, a romantic subplot with Joey Wong that fills another 30% and lots of skits and sketches with little relevance or connection to anything else that fills the rest. It's a distinctively Hong Kong movie, in other words.

Being a Sammo production there is of course some action, and this is probably where most of the time and budget went. Most of it is concentrated in the last 15 minutes, which is a good bone crunching showdown featuring Sammo's always excellent choreography. Hwang Jang Lee turns up as a master-kicking villain, and his fight with Sammo is superb.

The movie is definitely a mixed bag, with some very weak moments and some great moments. Overall the balance comes down on the side of "enjoyable". Recommended mainly for Sammo fans.

NOTE: The plot for this movie was lifted pretty much wholesale for the superior Stephen Chiau movie LOOK OUT, OFFICER!.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: foleyisgravy
Date: 01/05/2002
Summary: An old-fashioned knee-slapper!

Very funny ghost comedy with one of Sammo's best comedic performances. He plays a timid cop who swears to avenge the death of his partner. Except that when he swore, he had his fingers crossed, so that doesn't count. Anywho, the partner comes back as a ghost in order to make Sammo fulfill his end of the deal and capture his killers. Sammo refuses, so the ghost embarasses the hell out of Sammo during a dinner date at his girlfriends parents house. Sammo's facial expressions and physical comedy during this scene are excellent, making this the comic highlight of the movie.

There is hardly any action until the very end, when Sammo and Jackie Cheung square off against Hwang Jang Lee and Chang Yi. The doubling for Cheung is very good and you hardly ever notice it. Sammo just gets smashed in his fight against Hwang, who shows off his fantastic kicking skills. This fight is definitely sub-par for a Sammo finale, but it's OK since the rest of the movie is so funny.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 12/16/2001
Summary: GREAT!

A comedy/action movie, with a hint of ghosts, Sammo & Jacky team up as cops trying to help their dead coleage, played by David Chiang. Joey Wong is the love interest for Sammo, and the CLASSIC 'meet the parents' scene is so funny, I couldn't stop laughing. I have watched this movir several times, and is still as funny as ever. Doesn't really seem that this was about 15 years ago, it's great.

Rating: 4/5

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 08/11/2000
Summary: Disappointing

This could have been a fun little picture, but it somehow is less than great. For one thing, Samo takes much too long to get into serious martial arts, and only does so when Chiang's
ghost enters his body, near the end. Also, the romance with Joey is totally unconvincing, and is almost as hard to watch as Jackie Chan's stomach-churning "romantic" scenes in Dragons Forever.

On a brighter note, this is Jacky Cheung's first movie, and he acts as if he's on speed. He's totally hyped in every scene, as though the other actors are performing in slow mo. Luckily, he quickly learned (in later films) a little more restraint.

If you get bored, though, you can spend the film trying to keep up with Samo's incredible array of well-known actors doing bit parts and cameos.
The support case is simply huge. The end credits list no less than
twenty support actors and twenty other guest appearances. I've added a few I could identify.
Overall, just passable.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: GlennS
Date: 05/30/2000

Sammo Hung stars as a timid tuba player in the RHKP marching band who also goes by the name of Tuba. He is coerced by the ghost of a recently deceased cop (David Chiang) to capture a group of smugglers who were responsible for the cops death. Sammo teams up with a greenhorn straight out of the academy (Jacky Cheung, in his first role) to accomplish this mission and allow the ghost to be reincarnated. More comedy than action here, with some truly hilarious moments such as Tuba's dinner date with love interest Joey Wong at Joey's parents house.


Reviewer Score: 6