Winners And Sinners
HONG KONG LEGENDS
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Sammo Hung
Year:
1983
Run Time:
104 mins
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
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Languages:
CANTONESE 5.1, English 5.1
Subtitles:
English, English SDH, Dutch
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
1.70:1 Anamorphic
Region:
PAL 2
Genre:
Action / Comedy - 15 (UK)
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MOVIE
8/10

Made an almost horrifically long time ago (21 years), Winners and Sinners was one of the first Hong Kong films I had the pleasure to come across.
Comprising of an abundance of comedy, car chases, and action, Winners... was the first of the highly successful Lucky Stars series, and in my opinion, one of the best.
Often with Hong Kong comedies, the jokes can die a death with the passing of time, as so many are based on in-jokes and events at the time of filming. However, as with so many Sammo Hung films, they seem to hold an almost timeless quality which makes them a joy to view over and over again.

Director Hung's characters still feel fresh, and the comedy so perfectly timed and naturally performed, that you can't help but fall in love with its goofy charm.
It's not great art by anyone's standards, with its basic plot doing little but link the comedy and action scenes together, as we see the leads (Hung, Chin, Ng, Shum and Fung) join forces upon their release from prison to set up a cleaning company.
By complete chance, they come into the possession of a briefcase full of money, belonging to gang-boss James Tien. As you can imagine he wants his briefcase back, and so comes the films finale featuring red tracksuit-clad Sammo facing off Tien's body-guards.
This is actually the production's weakest section, with Hung's fist-to-face action feeling hurriedly directed and lacking any real bite.

Many see this as a Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao triple-hander, much like their collaborations in Wheels On Meals etc, thanks to much of the publicity material and cover designs which follow the film.
However, Chan appears only in what can amounts to an extended cameo, while Yuen has little more than a walk-on fight sequence.
If you can get over that disappointment, what remains is a hilarious mix of comedy, and some excellent (though relatively brief) fight scenes.

PICTURE
6/10

21 years has not been kind to Hong Kong Legend's attempts to restore this print.
Details is at best good, at worst below average, and the image looks very much its age at times.

A distracting flickering/strobing effect can be seen in the background of quite a few scenes, whilst black levels fluctuate throughout.
The print, much to HKL's credit is almost spotless, yet will come as quite a shock to those expecting a high quality transfer akin to many of their recent efforts.

SOUND
7/10

Strong bass, clear dialogue and no drop-outs or crackles. This centre-focused soundtrack does its job admirably, without any mis-queued sound effects.

SUBTITLES
7/10

Generally-speaking, I have no problems with the subs, as translations are accurate and free from spelling errors. However, the inclusion of some completely fake lines of dialogue in order to make some scenes more obvious, are just plain stupid.
This occurs only a few times, but is aggravating nonetheless.

MENUS
6/10

Quite a step back for HKL. Their menus look rather amateur-ish, with some ropey design choices not helping navigation.

EXTRAS
4/10

The previously touted John Shum interview seems to have gone astray somewhere, as HKL offer their weakest selection of extras in a very long time.

A 15 minute interview with Sammo, specially filmed for its inclusion on the disc is a welcome addition. The second 20 minute feature however, isn't.
Cutting together sections of interviews from previous HKL extras, we are presented with a selection of anecdotes about Sammo from a number of well (and not so well) known actors. A real waste of time.

Alongside these sparse extras are the Theatrical and UK Promo trailers, as well as trailers for the following:
My Lucky StarsTwinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars • Moon Warriors • Iron Monkey • Naked Weapon • Tiger On The Beat • Musa: The Warrior • Bang Rajan • Bichunmoo • Volcano High •

CONCLUSION
7/10

For those looking to walk down Hong Kong cinema's memory lane, as a film, Winners and Sinners is an essential purchase.
As a DVD it's less so, but pick it up cheaply and you'll be rewarded with a real diamond.

MOVIE 8/10
PICTURE
6/10
SOUND
7/10
SUBTITLES
7/10
EXTRAS
4/10
MENUS
6/10
PACKAGING
7/10
OVERALL 7/10