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masterofoneinchpunch

Don’t Give a Damn (1995: Sammo Hung: Hong Kong) aka Burger Cop

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“I would like to fart on her face!” “I will give her a fart with noise.”  “I will make a noisy and stink one.” – Hung’s sagacious speech on a woman he likes.
 
After immigrating for a year to the US because of debts and not as successful films, Sammo Hung was back to make this comedy and action film, partially for a favor to two of his sons who have small roles in this.  It has been written on several film sites that Jackie Chan was going to star in this but could not do it because of scheduling conflicts with the making of Rumble in the Bronx, but I am thinking this was just wishful thinking from fans and/or Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.  Chan’s rise was preeminent while the other two had seen better times.  I do not think Chan would have put any serious thought into actually starring in this.  Please correct me with a primary source if I am wrong. 
 
I had read several reviews on this film and everyone pointed to a repugnant scene involving blackface* and stereotypes.  Most of the time when I go into a film knowing of the offending scene I often think it is not as bad as the offended write about.  However, once in a while like with this film it is worse than my imagination thought like with D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation when it dealt with the Reconstruction after the end of the Civil War.  It has one of the most offensive subtitles I have seen in Hong Kong cinema and the blackface used is also among the worst offenders akin to Ed Wood’s Jailbait which was previously the most racist I had seen.  Sammo Hung had used blackface in Enter the Fat Dragon but that was innocuous compared to here.  It has been stated by Hung that he was obligated to use that scene because of investors, but with his past use I do wonder how true that is.  It is ironic that Robert Samuels (Bobby, one of the main hired bad guys) would become the first African American inducted in the Hong Kong Stuntman’s Association because of this film.  He hurt his ankle pretty bad from a jump during the finale.  Samuels, who had a good friendship with Hung as well as lived with him for a period of time, sided with Hung on this and ultimately, except for the blackface scenes, thinks highly of this movie.  He was not amused when he first saw this film.  Rewatching the ending I do not think Samuels ever saw the offending scenes.  His conversation with Sammo and Yuen Biao in blackface seem to be done at different times. 
 
There are a couple of other large issues with the film.  First it is highly misogynistic.  This is a little harder for Hung to ignore because you can see the misogynism from his first-released film The Iron-Fisted Monk and on.   Some of the atrocious things Hung’s character states in the film I do not think his love interest would have forgiven him for nor for him drunk-sleeping with someone else.  Also I am not sure why Hung’s character would have an anti-Japanese speech while beating up a defendant, especially to the real-life half-Japanese actor Kaneshiro Takeshi in another head-in-palm scene.
 
Second, this is also a comedic action film with not enough action.  Hung also makes a strange mistake in making his action scenes sometimes resemble the ones in Ashes of Time where Hung was the action choreography, by step-printing them making them more incomprehensible to the eye.  When you have excellent martial artists on display I am not sure why you would do that.  Why, of all things, take that influence from Wong Kar-wai (a director I do like, just not for his action scenes in that film)?  
 
The movie starts off well enough with a funny scene involving two different Pierre Lau (Sammo Hung) and Rambo Wong Yuk-man (Yuen Biao) as two officers, both undercover, are thinking they are going to arrest the other.  Blacky Ko is the “stupid” robber who is about to rob a busload full of cops with guns with his own knife.  Then things get a little sticky when Yuen Biao’s character kicks a chair out under a prostitute.  It was not funny nor was it really deserved.  Often the scenes with women have that hostility toward them.  I do wonder how much his divorce in the year before was a catalyst to this.  It is too bad because there are funny scenes throughout the movie like the Superman/Spiderman cop/robber scenes.  Enter Inspector Tang Chuen Shek (Kaneshiro Takeshi) who is assigned Pierre Lau.  Anyways they are successful in retrieving a large amount of drugs from a Japanese dealer (Kelvin Wong Siu).  Of course that dealer wants those drugs back.  Meanwhile those men are also looking for love in all the wrong places with a very funny highlight of Yuen Biao munching on roses.
 
There are a few good gags and some decent fighting.  Just not enough of them.  The racism and sexism do make you forget that there is not much of a plot here.  However, this will probably remain the low-point in Sammo Hung’s career.  It is almost like he does not give a damn.  But to be fair most likely he did not have carte blanch in his direction.  For those who have not seen this I imagine the locker room fight scene between Biao and Hung is the scene of most interest though it too is marred by an incredibly stupid Hung pulling a gun. This film actually gets worse the more you see it with the exception of the last couple of sequences.  The fighting between Bobby Samuels, Sammo Hung and eventually Collin Chou is pretty good and so is the Yuen Biao vs. Habby Heske and Roy Filler. Surprisingly I like the very ending.  It is like a more playful Taste of Cherry (1997: I am sure Abbas Kiarostami is a closet Hung fan, do not quote me on this). So I highly recommend this to people who are trying to complete Sammo Hung’s Filmography.  He has so many good films in his oeuvre and luckily Pedicab Driver just came out on DVD (Warner Brothers MOD).  Watch or rewatch that or Knockabout instead.

I have a Mandarin only copy of this from Thundermedia.  It has burnt in Chinese and English subtitles, but it is widescreen.  The quality is decent and certainly better than the Videoasia’s Burger Cop release which plays both the Mandarin and Cantonese tracks at the same time (obviously ported from a VCD.)  There are no extras.
 
* A book could be written on the use of blackface in pre-Hollywood and Hollywood films.  While it is rightfully considered at best passé and racist at its worst you can see interesting use in modern day examples like Sidney Poitier’s use in Stir Crazy (1980) or one of my favorite comedies in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder (2008).
 
Notes/Questions:
There are jokes to the upcoming handover.  I always find this fascinating with pre-handover HK films.
If anyone can find more information and/or interviews on this movie please post.
Has any other actor consistently had more bad haircuts than Sammo Hung?
 
Sources:
Robert Samuels Interview (2/2013) King of Kung Fu Interview: talks about injuring ankle after jumping off one of the racks in the yard.  He seems to be high on the film even though he was not happy with the racial issues.  This is the film which he earned his HK stuntman’s membership.  “There was a scene in Don’t give a Damn where I escape the police station. I had to do a 100 yard dash jump over a fence and into a moving car. Sammo told me if I completed this stunt he wold[sic] sign for me. It took me two takes only. That day Yuen Baio Lau chia Wing and Cho Wing were there watching the scene they said Bobby you earned your stuntman’s membership. That day I took 4 signatures to the Association becoming the first African American inducted to the Hong Kong Stuntman s Assc. I then was inducted into the A.S.S A Asia Sports Stars Association and then inducted into the Hong Kong Performing Artist Guild”
Sammo Hung Interview (June 26, 2010): states why he does not want to do an autobiography.  That sucks.
Commentary: The Victim (1980) by Ric Meyers and Bobby Samuels (2001): Meyers interrupts him just as he was about to talk about this film.  He did discuss not liking the black face scene in Enter the Fat Dragon, which in my opinion is nowhere near as bad as the scenes in Don’t Give a Damn.
Forum: Bullets and Babes: once again thanks to Mark with his insight into the Jackie Chan issue.
Kung Fu Fandom Link
Hong Kong Film Net Review: Has Facebook quote from Robert Samuels which reiterates what he stated in the review above.
Love HK Film Review
 
Books:
Jackie Chan: Inside the Dragon (1997) by Clyde Gentry III: “Hung then teamed back up with Yuen Biao for Don’t Give a Damn, made as a favor to two of his sons, Hung Tin-ming and Hung Tin-cheung.” (Tin-ming’s godfather is Jackie Chan, Tin-cheung’s godfather is Yuen Wo-ping.) He also wrote of Sammo having debt issues in Hong Kong which is why he emigrated to America for a year.
The Hong Kong Filmography, 1977-1997 (2000) by John Charles
At the Hong Kong Movies (1999) Paul Fonoroff: this is one of the rare movies where I read a more positive review from Fonoroff than from John Charles.

Edited by masterofoneinchpunch

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Great review. I think The Stuntpeople gave this halfway decent review, which was the most positive thing I read about it from everyone. I thought about buying it on the DVD 10-pack that included Deaf-Mute Heroine and Showdown at Cotton Mill, but the Amazon reviews of that set were horrible.

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Seconded, really great read.  I also remember reading that Sammo wasn't particularly happy about being back in HK, and at the time due to the hostility against him in the HK media because of his divorce (still highly frowned upon in most Asian cultures), was happy to take a swipe back at them.  Apparently he did this by having the cast members on the original poster have their backs to the camera, which was considered to be very disrespectful to the audience.  But as the title suggests, at the time it was made I don't think Sammo really have a damn.

 

I couldn't find the original HK poster, but here's the Thai version which features the same image - 

Don't%2Bgive%2Ba%2Bdamn.jpg

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Thanks for the poster post with the info.  I actually like that poster and if Hung could have delivered a better film I think that would have been a better revenge though than the racial and misogynistic content (if he could have avoided it; I would love to hear him talking about this film). I know Sammo Hung does not want to do an autobiography, but I wish he would change his mind (maybe he will, wishful thinking I know).  Heck he could even do one like Charles Chaplin and ignore the parts of your life you do not want to talk about :).

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Love this review!!!! Yeah, the comedy...well, it makes me do the "I can't believe they went there" laugh. I agree it needed more action, but I like what's there. The blackface bit just didn't come across as planned, I think. When Sammo looked at the dailies (if he bothered), he should've have nixed that idea and made a quick rewrite.

Edited by ShaOW!linDude

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Here is the Thundermedia cover (not my image, but the picture is the same as the DVD sheet).   I like how Sammo is looking behind him on here. HKMDB has the poster which is quite similar to the below image but has a nice little montage of the many actors (cameos) at the bottom of the poster.

Dontgive1h.jpg

 

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Nice review Masterofoneinchpunch.

 

Though there were offensive scenes in the film that made me cringe (I remember being so shocked and disappointed in the black-face stuff, especially the first time I saw it), I still enjoyed it. I am such a fan of the three stars that I was entertained throughout.

 

I wish that Bobby Samuels would have had more Hong Kong roles so he could've shown off more of his skills. His kung fu in DON'T GIVE A DAMN was really fast and crisp, with terrific form. It made me want to see more.

 

I definitely wouldn't say this is one of  Sammo's worst though. Try THE PALE SKY. Or better yet, don't.

 

But what do I know? I also really like the thoughtlessly rude, completely insensitive, rude, childish PANTYHOSE HERO (which has some incredible fight scenes!). :itwasntme

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Nice review Masterofoneinchpunch.

... I am such a fan of the three stars that I was entertained throughout.

I wish that Bobby Samuels would have had more Hong Kong roles so he could've shown off more of his skills. His kung fu in DON'T GIVE A DAMN was really fast and crisp, with terrific form. ... I definitely wouldn't say this is one of  Sammo's worst though. Try THE PALE SKY. Or better yet, don't.

But what do I know? I also really like the thoughtlessly rude, completely insensitive, rude, childish PANTYHOSE HERO (which has some incredible fight scenes!). :itwasntme

Thanks Bob.  This movie is not boring, it just has its issues which I hope I covered.  I just read a plot description of The Pale Sky, I am now intrigued.  To be fair Sammo does not direct that movie though.  I agree that more Samuels would have been nice to see in HK cinema.  In a commentary he stated he could write a book about the racism in Hong Kong, but I would like for him just to write a book (there is a Robert Samuels who wrote: Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free: How to Decrease Cost and Increase Quality at American Universities) :D.  Imagine all the Sammo Hung stories he could tell.  I would buy it (heck I would buy any decent biography on Sammo Hung; someone on here should write it.)  I still need to see Pantyhose Hero (reviews are quite bad on HKMDB, reminds me I miss cal42's writing -- note to anyone who remembers him, he is now doing standup in England).

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