The duo like to think of themselves as “Crazy Tiger and Mad Dragon,” but they are better known as Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon or more often Baldy and Fatty, two Hong Kong police officers no more popular with their superior officer Wu who regards their antics as the reason for his stalled career progression as the thieves, gangsters and drug dealers they hunt, tracking courier Johnny Boy from a jewellery heist back to his contact Prince Dak and from there to Dak’s brother, “Sinister Wing.”
The plans awry, Baldy and Fatty facing trumped-up charges of assault by Dak’s girlfriend Lai, but if the pair can persuade her to change her tune and stand as a witness, giving evidence against the gang, they can play the heroes… or cash in their chips and move to Singapore to become partners in a Karaoke bar with the two random nameless women whom they met while on leave.
Directed by Lau Kar-Wing who also appears as ruthless cocaine gang mastermind Wing, Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon (瘦虎肥龍, Shòu Hǔ Féi Lóng) reunited him with associates Sammo Hung and Karl Maka in the title roles of the knockabout buddy cop action comedy released in the summer of 1990 but which feels like an eighties holdover, the plot minimal and in service of endless fight scenes and the astonishing egos of the lead characters.
A showcase of every unenlightened cliché of the era, they grope women while hunting for a transvestite courier, barge into changing rooms, peek into shower cubicles, intimidating those who try to help them, strangers and colleagues alike, every police officer depicted as a leering fool led by libido rather than the law, the two men set to safeguard Lai distracted and killed without difficulty at the flash of a pretty smile – again, from a transvestite.
The power dynamic askew, Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon is shallow and childish, difficult even to enjoy as mindless entertainment with the logistical gaps in the plot – why is a key witness under guard in her own home rather than an anonymous safe house? – and with no loyalty to colleagues or lovers and every scene played as slapstick there is no emotional investment in the outcome; if the supposed heroes care for nobody but themselves, why should a viewer?
Presented on Blu-ray from a 2K restoration as part of the Eureka Classics range, the new edition of Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon carries a plethora of supporting features, with three audio commentaries, a new interview with stuntman Mark Houghton, archive interviews with director Lau Kar-wing and stuntman Ridley Tsui, an extended version of the final fight scene and in the initial release a bonus disc with a separate documentary on the career of Houghton.