Miracles (1989 film)
|Directed by||Jackie Chan|
|Produced by||Leonard Ho|
|Written by||Jackie Chan|
|Music by||Su Cong|
|Edited by||Peter Cheung|
|Distributed by||Golden Harvest|
|Box office||HK $34,036,029|
Miracles (Chinese: 奇蹟; pinyin: qí jī; Jyutping: kei zik) is a 1989 Hong Kong action film starring and directed by Jackie Chan. The film is set in 1930s Hong Kong and is a variation of Frank Capra's Lady for a Day (1933) and Pocketful of Miracles (1961), which in turn were based on "Madame La Gimp", a 1929 short story by Damon Runyon. This movie is written by Edward Tang with inputs from Jackie. The movie was remade in Hindi as Singh Is Kinng with Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif.
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 a 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 (Gua Ah-leh), a poor woman selling flowers on the street; she urges him to buy a red rose, saying it will bring him luck. He disagrees at first but after looking at his suitcase, he finally agrees.
His fortunes immediately take a dramatic turn when he stumbles into a gang war, and renders assistance to a dying gang leader. When Fei (Lo Lieh) asks who will take his spot, the gang leader unwittingly makes Kuo his successor and 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, 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 reluctantly 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 enjoy the nightclub, being introduced to Kuo. Before the music starts, the police and Inspector Ho (Richard Ng) interrupts the show. In Kuo's office, Ho privately tells him his plan to bring both gangs to jail. Ho leaves Kuo with Uncle Hoi, who tells Kuo everyone knows what they talked about since Ho always uses the same lines.
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 time 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. Through Luming's persuasion, 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 (that he almost didn't remember), on the condition that they impersonate the local dignitaries. Also Kuo accidentally agrees to the wedding in which he later on decides to get the gangs to act as rich dignitaries with mixed results. Most importantly, his gang ties up photographers and business people, fearing that they might reveal Kao's sad true nature.
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 tries to get to Inspector Ho but is instead 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 with assurance from Tiger that there is no foul play. 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 and getting rid of the gangs that will play the rich dignitaries, Kuo tries to convince the real dignitaries of Hong Kong to help him. Madame Kao is about to confess to Belle's fiance and her father the truth when the real dignitaries come in for the party, Kuo having convinced them that he could not do this without them. This leaves everyone crying in relief, pulling off the illusion till the end.
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, her fiancé and his father to come back anytime, much to the horror of everyone who want to go back to their normal lives.
- Jackie Chan as 'Charlie' Kuo Chen Wah
- Anita Mui as Yang Luming
- Gua Ah-leh 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
- Simon Yam as Chief Inspector Ho's man
- Jacky Cheung as Bespectacled Clerk
- Billy Lau as Ah Tong
- David Lui as Snake Ming
- Tien Feng as Elder Ko / Wong
- Mars as Police sergeant
- Yuen Biao as Beggar (cameo)
- Wong Wai as supreme Court Judge
- Chor Yuen as chairman of the court
- Ken Lo as guard of Tiger
- Lee Hoi Shan as guard of Kuo
- Suki Kwan as dancer
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. The script by Edward Tang and Jackie Chan expands the backstories of the main characters while staying faithful to the source, with some comic references included and Jackie's trademark action style that sticks to the tone of the light hearted film.
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, while performing a stunt in which he flipped backwards onto a rickshaw.
The film was produced 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 gangs 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.
- "HKMDb entry". Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (1989). Retrieved 28 October 2008.
- "Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (Ji ji) (Miracles) (Black Dragon) (1989)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 15 July 2014.