Operation Pink Squad II (1989)
Written & directed by: Jeff Lau
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Combining action, comedy and darker drama for the original Operation Pink Squad, it's a testament to the at that time new director Jeff Lau that he could strike so much gold when combining elements that ultimately are not a good fit for each other. The original sported a premise borrowing cues from Wellson Chin's Inspector Wears Skirts, Stakeout and to create charming 80s entertainment out of the low-brow (often featuring Billy Lau), lame (again, Billy Lau), suspenseful and action-filled is an art not many Hong Kong directors can claim they are adapt at. Adding a chance for goofball Sandra Ng to expand her dramatic range, Operation Pink Squad could almost proudly claim disjointed to work in its favour. Jeff Lau returns for the related/unrelated sequel (the characters are still cops essentially, hence it being a sequel and not at the same time) to continue the recipe that worked early in his career. Thanks to confidence showed in his debut The Haunted Cop Shop, Operation Pink Squad II takes the contrasting elements of loud farce and dark horror with a comical twist and proves it's better to put this devotion into his other mentioned series. Some bursts of cheap mayhem ranks as almost excellent though.
Also known as Thunder Cops, in fact Lau went on to shoot a movie with Sandra Ng and Stephen Chow called Thunder Cops II which was nothing like any of the movies it seems to be connected to (1*). Operation Pink Squad II opens with newly married couple played by Sandra Ng and Billy Lau looking to get it oooooon in bed. He's a virgin though and soon this relationship is infused (mostly from Billy's side) with vindictiveness and paranoia as she speaks of someone called Johnny in her sleep (it's a pig in actuality... don't ask). Billy plants a bug in his wife's purse and thinks he's stumbled upon THE Johnny when listening in on Sandra and her superior Inspector Shin (Wu Fung). In fact it's a briefing about an undercover mission for her unit (that also consists of Ann Bridgewater and Suki Kwan) where they'll act as Japanese hostess girls in order to catch a seller of fake money plates (the character of Maddy played by Shing Fui-On). Eventually centering the action around an apartment complex where a Buddhist monk (Yuen Cheung-Yan) is busy catching ghosts and sealing their entrance door, one ghost (Cheung Choi-Mei) remains on the loose and the night of terror begins...
Sex-jokes, blowjob-jokes and Billy Lau acting as the obnoxious lead of the film, pace of gags, pace of beats is an issue of concern as well as the choice to let Billy Lau roam free to do his "thing". Part of a joke based on misunderstandings that runs for 40 minutes, Jeff Lau isn't showing off the best side of himself or the one of Hong Kong cinema. The film is for quite a while yet another example of the skit structure lacking any kind of wit as matters are merely about lining up performers in the frame and asking them to be LOUD! Throw in a lame parody of A Better Tomorrow featuring Billy Lau in Chow Yun-Fat's shoes and you get some idea of missteps and how many steps away Jeff Lau is from momentum established in prior flicks. He simply seems to forget that by reducing Billy Lau's appearance to a minimum in Operation Pink Squad, a movie is actually allowed room for better things to be accomplished. That does happen in Operation Pink Squad II eventually. There is a god.
A while into the flat looking chase by and of Cheung Choi-Mei's ghost, Jeff Lau's camera starts activating itself more and more and it takes a beheading for the film to switch gears from zero to fun/very adequate. Now involving all of his main cast, especially Shing Fui-On gets thorough opportunity to put forth the right spirit (excuse the pun). This is especially evident when it's merely him, his money and the head of the ghost interacting. A loud Shing Fui-On, the way we've seen and heard so many times can work wonders for a director seeking momentum.
And momentum Jeff Lau finds as his characters make the requisite stupid decisions when trying to fight back. Inspired sights of radio controlled choppers equipped with missiles, the odd dip into the grisly and gruesome plus a peeing contest between Billy Lau and Wu Fung cements the issue of manic Jeff Lau-energy that he made a trademark shortly into his directorial career. Operation Pink Squad II does unfortunately only find occasional time to showcase all of this. You can't go wrong with taking on the experience of Jeff's 87-89 work but remember it's not a constant carnival of quality. The sights overall across his initial 5 movies are enough to rank as wonderfully entertaining though.
The DVD (Winson):
Video: 1.33:1 (cropped from its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio).
Audio: Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1.
Subtitles: English, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson
(1) A dark, very violent action-drama, it further cemented Sandra's early chops as a dramatic performer and it's quite heartwarming to see Lau believing in an actress often appearing in light material and being part of jokes about her flat chest.