Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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Arrow Video, MVD Entertainment’s ‘Millionaires’ Express’ Re-Issue Is A Surprisingly Enjoyable Screwball Comedy

The world today is so overly full of drama.  That includes the real world, television and cinema.  It seems like drama is more prevalent in our lives today than in any previous era.  Why that is the case is anyone’s guess.  Maybe some people just thrive on drama.  Who knows?  Thankfully for all of the drama that permeates our lives every day (including in our entertainment), there are at least some sources of happiness and laughs out there to counter the misery brought about by all of the drama that is out there.  Arrow Video and MVD Media Group provided a new and welcome source of that laughter and joy this week when they partnered to re-issue the 1986 Hong Kong screwball comedy, Millionaires’ Express.  Being an import, it is likely few audiences are familiar with the movie, but it certainly is a movie that audiences looking for laughs will welcome.  That is due in no small part to its story, which will be discussed shortly.  The dual language presentation of the movie in its new re-issue adds to the enjoyment and in turn will be addressed a little later.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie’s new domestic re-issue adds even more to the entertainment here and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered they make the new re-issue of Millionaires’ Express such a welcome joy in an age that is overloaded with so much unnecessary drama.

Arrow Video and MVD Media Group’s brand-new re-issue of the 1986 Hong Kong-based screwball comedy Millionaires’ Express is a breath of fresh air in an era that is dominated by so much drama in real life, on TV screens and in theaters.  The movie’s joy comes in large part through its story.  The story is simple even in its complexity.  A train carrying quite a few rich passengers (and a scroll containing information about great riches) is making its way across China. Bumbling ex-con Foon-Tin Ching (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo) is one of a variety of figures planning to stop the train for various reasons.  Ching wants to stop the train as a means to get its rich passengers spend their money in his hometown.  His act, while criminal in itself, is meant with good intentions.  At the same time, another group of criminals wants to stop the train because of the scroll.  There are also some other characters on board, like a man who is less than faithful to his wife and a bumbling conductor who make for their own share of comic relief throughout the story.  That duo in itself get some of their best laughs in a sort of comedy or errors moment after the train is stopped in Ching’s hometown. Ching’s interaction with one of the cops in his hometown also make for some laughs, especially when the cop discovers him trying to plant a bomb on the rails to stop the train.  As the story progresses in the town, the interaction between the passengers, the crooks, Ching, and a group of samurai warriors guarding the scroll ensure so many laughs and engagement.  That is especially the case as the big martial arts fight scenes come into play.  Somehow, Hung and co-writer Keith Wong manage to balance the action in those sequences with the movie’s comic element to make for just as much enjoyment as in any other moment in this movie.  The whole thing results in a happy ending that will be left for audiences to discover for themselves.  Needless to say, audiences will agree the result was well worth the roughly 98-minute watch. That, especially, is the case as the story’s pacing is so stable throughout the movie.  All things considered the story featured in Millionaires’ Express forms a solid foundation for the re-issue and gives audiences plenty of reason to watch the movie.

As much as the story featured in Millionaires’ Express does to make the movie worth watching, it is just one part of what makes this re-issue appealing.  The movie’s dual presentation adds to that appeal.  The dual presentation in question is two separate presentations of the movie, one in full foreign language with English subtitles and the other with English overdubs in place of the subtitles.  On the surface, this might not seem like much, but on a deeper level it actually is very important to the presentation.  That is because as much as audiences might not fully realize it, having to split time between reading subtitles and watching what is happening on screen actually detracts from the enjoyment.  That is because reading the subtitles takes a viewer’s attention at least somewhat away from the story, the cast’s emoting, and just acting in general.  It does make for some problems.  Having the English overdubs in place of the subtitles allows audiences to focus entirely on what is happening, even as the cast’s mouths do not match up.  The interpretations of the cast’s work by the English translators actually adds so much to the presentation, too.  Between the enjoyment the interpreters bring to the presentation and the cast’s actual work, the engagement and entertainment audiences experience proves just how important those overdubs are to the presentation.  So in simple terms, having the movie presented in two different formats, one for Asian audiences and the other for English-speaking audiences, actually makes much more difference than people might otherwise consider.  To that end, it is just as important to the engagement and entertainment in this movie as the movie’s story.

The dual presentation of Millionaires’ Express is just one more aspect of the movie’s re-issue worth noting.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie’s new re-issue is also of note.  One of the most interesting bonuses that accompanies the re-issue comes from actress Yukari Oshima.  Oshima shares the story of her career, from her schooling, to becoming a freelance stunt worker to finally getting her debut in Millionaires’ Express during her interview.  She also tackles the difference between how officials handle making movies in Japan versus in Hong Kong.  The difference in how the process is approached in the two nations is interesting to say the least.  If Oshima is to be properly understood, controls on movie making in Japan (when she was coming up through the industry at least) were much tighter, whereas in Hong Kong, things were more fluid.

The interviews with Cynthia Rothrock, who plays a member of the criminal group set out to steal the scroll shares her own story as a Westerner coming in to Hong Kong and taking part in the movie’s creation in a pair of other bonuses.  Her anecdotes about being a woman in a male-dominated realm even in Hong Kong makes for its own share of engagement, as do her stories of how the fight scenes played out.

Hung’s admission in one of his bonus interviews that he has a love for John Wayne would explain why this movie really seems like a farce on the classic American Western about a train robbery, which adds even more to the enjoyment.  That is because the understanding helps audiences understand that Hung’s approach was done more with  love for the genre than distaste even as it spoofs the classic Western.  He also addresses casting and working with Rothrock, and how much fun it was working with her on screen.  That discussion, which also brings up the matter of martial ats legend Bruce Lee, makes for its own share of interest, too.  Between all of this and just so much more in this interview (and his other interview that is included), the whole makes for so much enjoyment, too.  When this and the other interviews are considered along with the feature-length commentaries, of which there are two, audiences get even more to appreciate in regards to the bonus content.  All things considered, the bonus content that accompanies the new reissue of Millionaires’ Express puts the finishing touch to this presentation and ensures once more, so much enjoyment from beginning to end.

Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment’s brand new re-issue of Millionaires’ Express is an unsuspectingly enjoyable presentation and escape from all of the drama that fills everyone’s lives on a daily basis.  It is yet more proof that there is so much more out there worth watching than just what we Americans get.  Its fully enjoyable presentation comes in part through its featured story, which is just a full-on screwball/action comedy.  The story and the cast’s work throughout generate so much laughter, and in an age when the world needs so much laughter, it is welcome.  The movie’s dual presentation (and its bonus extended cut) add even more engagement and entertainment to the presentation.  That is because one of those presentations in question is a full English presentation complete with English overdubs.  It allows audiences to fully immerse themselves in the movie, and in turn, increase the enjoyment that stems from this aspect.  The bonus content that accompanies the movie in its new re-issue puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  That is because of the amount of background that it collectively offers.  Each item examined is important in its own right to the whole of the movie’s presentation.  All things considered these items make Millionaires’ Express one of the best of this year’s new re-issues and an equally enjoyable escape from all of the drama that surrounds audiences today on and off-screen.

Millionaires’ Express is available now.  More information on this and other titles from Arrow Video is available at: