Forbidden City Cop‘s plot, such as it is, is of the evil Gum Kingdom’s quests to conquer the Chinese Empire. The simpleminded and friendly Emperor is no match for the clever Gum barbarians, and from the offer of a concubine to the capture of a space alien, the Emperor believes & accepts every Gum entreaty. It’s up to a doctor who moonlights as an Imperial Bodyguard and inventor, Ling Ling Fat (“008”, Stephen Chow), to save the day.
Chow’s films are a combination of lighthearted physical comedy and commentary on culture. The recent Shaolin Soccer (2001) is a masterful example of this, combining the rise of an improbable sports team (a la The Longest Yard) with a realist examination of contemporary urban China. Forbidden City Cop is an earlier example of the same themes, deftly combining western imports (UFOs, the Academy Awards, spy thrillers) with traditional (ancient heroes, an Empire in distress) and contemporary (kung fu) themes.
The only downside was the subtitles, sometimes hardly readable because of their positioning on the screen. Still, the film was funny and cute, and I recommend it. I rate it 8 / 10.
Rent from Greencine. (Currently out of stock at Amazon.)