anachronistic vehicles, Brigitte Lin, Dragon Attack, Fantasy Mission Force, heel turn, hopping vampires, I love the 80s, Jackie Chan, Jimmy Wang Yu, Taiwan, The Dirty Chinese Dozen, WTF, WWII
The unmistakable huge hands of Jimmy Wang Yu grip the wheel of a Jeep that is rolling through a desert wasteland. He uses one giant paw to mow down everyone in his path with the machine gun mounted to his dash, while the other is lassoing a motherfucker. But wait! As the guy on the end of his rope is flying through the air we suddenly cut to a war room with two very important dudes named General Johnson and General Thompson. They have heard that Wang Yu, who is being escorted by a bunch of guys in blackface, fears nothing! But he could have been captured by their commandos! And with that Wang Yu throws his gun on the war desk and extends his massive mitt for a general to shake as he growls in perfectly dubbed English “Not really.” It seems this is set during WWII, and Wang Yu has been selected for a special mission: to rescue someone from Luxembourg before the Japanese take them to Japan? But the instructions are cut in mid-sentence in favor of a wacky Chinese song inspired by 50s American rock and we finally get a title card for this glorious film. Behold, it is Fantasy Mission Force!
I hoard movies and randomly find them in my possession later so I don’t know where I acquired Fantasy Mission Force but it is perfect viewing for a Saturday morning when I really could use an escape from reality. Jimmy Wang Yu kidnaps some guy dressed as a matador whose hobby is holding up restaurants while lip-synching. Then he lures a professional prison breaker into his Jeep with roast chicken. He’s assembling a rag-tag team of lovable misfits for his fantasy mission. How fun! In another part of the plot, Jackie Chan dressed as a funeral arrangement mocks a group of famous circus strongmen before almost getting his ass kicked in front of a street audience, all at the behest of some mysterious hot but possibly evil chick. He wins several suitcases of cash and then is immediately robbed by military police. Never mind that, though, because now Brigitte Lin in Wonder Woman boots is in a drinking contest with a one-eyed man and after each shot of liquor they use a pistol to shoot an item of clothing off some poor girl who is tied to a wheel. She gets caught cheating and escapes to her hideout to count her money, but then her ex boyfriend the Chinese Elvis shows up only to be recruited by Wang Yu, which makes Lin so angry she blows up her own house with a bazooka before sneaking into the camp where Wang Yu and Johnson-or-Thompson are inexplicably training Chinese soldiers in kilts to take Elvis hostage. Her antics earn her a spot on the team.
Once they are all assembled around a campfire dreaming of how they will spend their earnings from the mission, Jackie Chan and his girlfriend come along to rob them all at gunpoint only to find that they have underestimated the Fantasy Mission Force. I thought Jackie would join the team too but he escapes, and then Wang Yu is apparently killed in another ambush which causes the team to bond over some butt jokes and a trick cigar. But wait! Now they have to fight a team of rhythmic ribbon gymnastic ninjas led by a horny female centurion and her leopard-skin clad tribe of Amazons! I wish I was making all of this up. If David Lynch writes his incomprehensible screenplays after practicing transcendental meditation, the writer of this film must have been influenced by a trip to a dentist who had a free hand with the laughing gas.
I’ll stop here before I spoil the entire movie, but rest assured I’ve really only provided the setup. All I wrote actually makes up less than half of the film! Although Hong Kong movies are probably my favorite thing in the world to watch, they’re quite hard to write about because they defy summarization. They also like to get dark at the end after an hour and a half of goofiness, probably to pull in as many viewers as possible by cooking up a genre chop suey. You just have to describe what happens because these films can be so damn weird. And thank God for that! Suffice it to say that along the way the team encounters not only hopping vampires but also gambling ghosts and a succubus, plus 70s American muscle cars (in the WWII era?) so my life is complete for the day. There’s not enough fighting for my taste, but at least Jackie Chan shows up to kick people once in a while, and that makes me yell at the TV with delight. If you like Hong Kong action comedies, you could do a lot worse than Fantasy Mission Force, and trust me, I have.