Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From Riches to Rags (1979)

From Riches to Rags (1979)

December 15th, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

November 8th of this year witnessed the passing of a man who became a comic legend throughout East and South East Asia, Ricky Hui 許冠英. Mastering comedy from television to film, he, along with the other Hui brothers, would dominate Hong Kong comedy. This series usually shows a major Hui Brothers film every semester, but because of this death it seems more appropriate to showcase one of his star roles.

Like his other brothers he appeared in a large number of his own projects, although frequently playing second fiddle such as Mr. Vampire (1985) as well as gaining major success for creative efforts behind the camera. His persona was one of the odd, strange looking man who seemed to be out of touch with what was going on, living in his own dream world. He rarely got the girl, saved the day or helped the hero. But his characters always dreamed, usually of power, dignity or wealth.

In From Riches to Rags (1979) he is another working class nobody. Only this time through random chance, he becomes fabulously wealthy. As he begins to live out his fantasies he repeatedly comes face to face with his own limitations as well as the natural variety of freak occurrences, Triad gangs and scheming friends. Directed by John Woo who what then known as a director of Cantonese dialect comedies, the film is a showcase of the kind of comic style that evolved from Hong Kong television of the early 1970’s with all of its energy and inventiveness.

Hong Kong, Director John Woo, Cast Ricky Hui Koon-Ying, JoJo Chan, Tong Jing and Yik Ga, 98 minutes, in Cantonese with English subtitles

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