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DVD Review: Royal Tramp


The Royal Tram Collection is consists of two films, Royal Tramp and Royal Tramp 2, though they are really more like two parts to the same film, similar to Kill Bill. Yes, they do have martial arts action, but lets not fool ourselves here, these are definitely comedies. And silly ones at that. Even though I found the story to be a bit confusing at first, much of the laughs still came through, which I believe is a testament to some great acting. And when I watched it through a second time, the story became much more clear.

The main character in both films is a man named Wai Siu-Bo. Bo is a fast-talking, no-cares kind of guy who spins tales of being a hero in the Heaven and Earth Society along side real hero Chang Chin-Nam. And as fate would have it, one day Bo finds himself in an awkward situation where he is able to help Chang Chin-Nam, and so Nam is allows him to join the Heaven and Earth Society, and gives him his first assignment: infiltrate the Emperor's court and heist a martial arts book called the 42 Chapters which apparently holds some kind of secret that the Heaven Earth Society can use to overthrow the Ching Dynasty and restore the Ming Dynasty.

Got that so far? Okay, well Bo goes off to apply for a job in order to get into the royal court, but he accidentally winds up applying to be a eunuch instead. As with most unfortunately situations that Bo gets himself in, he is rescued at the last second by forces beyond his control. So in this instance, just prior to his castration, he is saved by head eunuch Ha Da-Fu, because all the other eunuch's have been killed and he needs someone to spy on the emperor and also... steal the 42 Chapters!

Okay, still with me? Now, while in the royal court, Bo unknowingly bumps into the emperor and his sister, and they become pals after some quick talking from Bo saves the emperor from an unfavorable situation. So then the emperor enlists Bo to spy on head eunuch Ha Da-Fu, not knowing that Ha Da-Fu sent Bo to spy on the emperor. But wait, there's more! The Princess lusts after Bo after discovering that he had not been castrated, and then he is assigned a set of twin warrior women help him out, and apparently the Empress is some kind of impostor from a group called the Dragon Sect! Whew! And that's just the first film!

In the second film, the fake empress returns to take revenge on the man whom she thinks beat her. And of course, that would be Bo. But before she does, she merges with the leader of clan to gain all her power, thus turning her into a new woman. Thing is, she has to remain a virgin to have all the power. As soon as she has sex, 80% of her power will be transferred to the man. And I'm sure we can all guess who that man is going to be, though it's near impossible to imagine how that situation will ever come about.

All-in-all, they were both fun to watch, though that's not to say I didn't have issues with the films. Such as how the soundtrack seemed to overpower the voicework. I had to seriously crank up the volume to hear them talk, and then cut it down when action started taking place. Talk about annoying. Also, even there is an English subtitle track for the Cantonese dialog, there is no subtitle track for the English dub. And believe me, the English and the Cantonese are different. I watched it in Chinese the first time and English the second time, and I really would have like to have subtitles for the English version so I didn't have to crank the volume to hear what they were saying.

I also tried watching again, this time with the commentary track, but I just couldn't make it all the way through. It was done by Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan, and it sure did sound like he was an expert, spouting off all kind of facts that held no interest to me. That might have been okay if he had a voice like Morgan Freeman or Patrick Stewart, but unfortunately he doesn't. Anyway, there is one sure thing about this movie... Stephen Chow, the guy playing Bo, is a superb comedic actor.

Royal Tramp 1 Special Features:

  • Feature Length Audio Commentary By Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Royal Tramp 2 Special Features:

  • Feature Length Audio Commentary By Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan
  • An Interview With Writer/Director Wong Jing
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

The Royal Tramp Collection, released by Weinstein Company, is available starting February 12, 2008.

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