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Worthy but flawed

The Royal Scoundrel

Sha Tan-Zi yu Zhou Shih-Nai
1991 / 89m - Hong Kong
The Royal Scoundrel poster

While the early 90s were a definite highlight for Hong Kong cinema, Johnnie To was still looking for an identity. On paper, The Royal Scoundrel looked absolutely amazing (a To comedy with Tony Leung and Man-Tat Ng in the lead), but the actual film is pretty pedestrian, though still decent enough for people who appreciate the genre.

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Two longtime partners (Beach Boy and Mrs. Chow) are put on a counterfeiter case. During the investigation, Beach Boy meets Ah Yuk, whose father-in-law was arrested by him. He falls for her charms, but that doesn't please Beach Boy's boss, who tries to incriminate him and his partner.

With Leung and Tat on board, there is certainly some fun to be had. The comedy helps to liven up the police investigation, but there's not really enough here to set the film apart from similar work. It's a far cry from the films that would make To famous a decade later, but completists won't have too bad of a time with this one. Decent oeuvre filler.