Miracles (1989 film)
Hong Kong film poster
|Directed by||Jackie Chan|
|Produced by||Leonard Ho
|Written by||Jackie Chan
Ko Chun Hsiang
|Music by||Su Cong
|Edited by||Peter Cheung|
|Distributed by||Golden Harvest|
|Running time||127 minutes|
|Box office||HK $34,036,029|
Miracles (Chinese: 奇蹟; pinyin: qí jī; Jyutping: kei zik) is a 1989 Hong Kong action comedy film directed and written by Jackie Chan, who also starred in the lead role and worked as stunt co-ordinator. The film is set in 1930s Hong Kong and is a variation of Frank Capra's Lady for a Day and Pocketful of Miracles, which in turn were based on "Madame La Gimp", a short story by Damon Runyon. The movie was remade in Hindi as Singh Is Kinng with Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif. A similar subplot also appears in the 1973 Hindi film Loafer.
Miracles features many well-known Hong Kong actors, including Anita Mui and Wu Ma, and is considered one of Jackie Chan's most sophisticated directorial efforts. Chan is an ardent fan of Hollywood musicals, and Miracles pays tribute to that genre. According to his autobiography, Chan stated that this was one of his favorite films he has made.
The film was released under several alternative titles in different territories, including:
- Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (Hong Kong English title)
- Black Dragon (USA)
- Miracles: The Canton Godfather (UK video title)
- The Canton Godfather (Australia)
Chan plays Kuo Cheng-Wah, a kind-hearted country boy who is quickly cheated out of all his money by Tung (Bill Tung) when he arrives in Hong Kong. Depressed and destitute, he encounters Madame Kao (Kuei Ya-lei), a poor woman selling flowers on the street; she urges him to buy a red rose, saying it will bring him luck. He demurs at first, shaking his head sadly, then finally agrees.
His fortunes immediately take a dramatic turn when he stumbles into a gang war, and renders assistance to a dying gang leader. The leader makes Kuo his successor due to a pun, then dies. Kuo, awed, attributes his luck to Madame Kao's rose, and takes to buying one from her every day thereafter. This does not sit well with the gang, especially Fei (Lo Lieh), who feels that he was next in line to be the boss. Uncle Hoi (Wu Ma), the boss' right-hand man, helps Kuo adjust to being the boss. In a fight to test his toughness, Kuo wins the gang's respect, with the exception of Fei.
Kuo cannot accept being a gangster boss and tries to find a different way to legitimately make a living for himself and his gang. When singer Yang Luming (Anita Mui) comes to him with money to pay off a debt the previous boss had loaned to her dad, Uncle Hoi comes up with the idea to open a nightclub. At the opening of the nightclub, rival boss Tiger comes to muscle his way in on half of the shares of the nightclub, but is stopped by the police and Inspector Ho (Richard Ng).
Before a meeting with Tiger, Kuo goes to buy his usual rose from Madame Kao, but she is not at her post. Because of this, he is caught up at a fight in a restaurant. The fight ends when Tiger stops a fan from falling on Kuo, who dives out of his way to grab a rose. About to be taken for ransom by Tiger, he is saved again by Inspector Ho. Afterwards, Kuo searches for Madame Kao, and finds her terribly upset over a letter she has just received. The letter is from her daughter, Belle (Gloria Yip), a student in Shanghai whom Madame Kao has been supporting, all the while concealing her sufferings and leading her to believe that she is a rich society woman in Hong Kong. She now comes to visit, bringing her wealthy fiance and his father, but Madame Kao is afraid that her poverty will bring disgrace to her daughter. Kuo offers to help, buying Madame Kao expensive new clothes and arranging a lavish party for her, to which he invites some of his disreputable friends, including Tung as her husband, on the condition that they impersonate the local dignitaries.
Meanwhile, Fei has manipulated Tiger into thinking Kuo had some of his men killed when they were trying to bring him in for a negotiation. In reality, they were simply being held captive. On the eve of the party, Kuo is captured by Tiger and taken to a rope factory run by Fei. It is clear to Kuo now that Fei has been behind the scenes of all the strife, but as Tiger is about to shoot Kuo, Tiger's missing men return, proving Kuo's innocence. Tiger sees this as an internal struggle and lets Kuo and Fei sort things out on their own. After a fight in the factory with Fei's men, Kuo triumphs. Fei is ready to fight Kuo himself, but Kuo wants to solve their issues peacefully, and more importantly get back to Madame Kao's situation, winning Tiger's respect in the process.
After canceling the party, Kuo tries to convince the real dignitaries of Hong Kong to help him, but they cannot understand why he wants to help Madame Kao. As soon as Madame Kao is about to confess to Belle's fiance and father about her lies, the dignitaries come in for the party, with Kuo having convinced them that he could not do this without them.
As Belle and her fiance take a ship back to Shanghai, everyone is there to see them off. Inspector Ho, wanted for embezzlement and abuse of power when he was conned by Tung, is also on the ship, denouncing Tung as they ship off. Happy with how things turned out, Kuo yells for Belle to come back so they can do this again, which causes everyone to stare at him.
- Jackie Chan as 'Charlie' Kuo Chen Wah
- Anita Mui as Yang Luming
- Kuei Ya-lei as Madam Kao (Lady Rose) (as Yah-Leh Gui)
- Chun Hsiung Ko as Tiger
- Wu Ma as Uncle Hoi
- Lo Lieh as Fei
- Bill Tung as Tung
- Gloria Yip as Belle Kao
- Richard Ng as Chief Inspector Ho
- Jacky Cheung as Bespectacled Clerk
- Billy Lau as Ah Tong
- David Lui as Snake Ming
According to Bey Logan's audio commentary on the Region 2 DVD released by Hong Kong Legends, Edward Tang introduced Chan to Frank Capra's film Pocketful of Miracles (1961). After seeing it, Chan was influenced to produce a film with a 1930s setting.
In the interview with Chan on the Hong Kong Legends DVD, he talks about the notable differences between how US directors shoot their films in comparison to his own methods. He gives the example that American filmmakers tend to move the camera to emphasise the frenetic nature of the action, but in action scenes in Chan's films, he keeps the camera steady. Chan also discusses Authur Wong's steady cam crane shot during the song "Rose, Rose I Love You" (sung by Anita Mui). In a single shot, the camera begins with an overhead view of Tiger as he leaves the Ritz. Kuo glances at Tiger and then the camera sweeps left to a top view shot of Yang Luming singing in front of her dancers.
The film's production was beset with problems, including a reported typhoon that destroyed many of the film sets and forced a rebuild in order to finish the production; and Chan sustained an injury, a deep cut over his left eye, whilst performing a stunt in which he flipped backwards onto a rickshaw.
The film was taped from December 1988 to March 1989.
The original Hong Kong cut of Miracles had a running time of 127 minutes. Several major scenes were cut for the 102 minute international version. These include:
- Kuo Cheng-Wah and Chief Inspector Ho having a private conversation.
- Yang Luming's dress is torn and she has an argument with Kuo Cheng-Wah.
- Scenes with Chief Inspector Ho in a police station.
- Yang Luming talking to Mr Wong on the phone in English.
- A subplot between Chief Inspector Ho and Tung about money.
- Kuo Cheng-Wah and Yang Luming try to teach the people to act as local dignitaries.
Miracles took HK $34,036,029 at the Hong Kong box office.
Awards and nominations
- 9th Hong Kong Film Awards
- Chan, Jackie I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (Ballantine Books 1999) p.389
- Thomas, Brian. Videohound's Dragon: Asian Action & Cult Flicks, Gale Group, 2002.
- Chan, Jackie I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action (Ballantine Books 1999) p.388
- Miracles, Audio Commentary (Bey Logan), Interview Gallery with Jackie Chan (DVD featurette) (DVD). Hong Kong Legends, UK. 1989 (film), 2001 (DVD). Check date values in:
- "HKMDb entry". Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (1989). Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- "Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (Ji ji) (Miracles) (Black Dragon) (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-07-15.