Millionaires Express: ”A Far East Western Adventure”

Year:1986

Directed by Sammo Hung
Produced by Alfred Cheung, Raymond Chow, Leonard Ho and Wu Ma
Written by Sammo Hung
Cast: Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Rosamund Kwan, Mei-sheng Fan
and Hwang Jang Lee
A train called the movie’s namesake containing important cargo is forced to stop by the town of Han Shui; where various parties want the cargo for their own ends while an outlaw looks for redemption and a heroic deputy attempt to defend his bankrupted town.

Combining conventions from different genres is always an interesting way to create a striking product or even a striking subgenre. Millionaires Express is one such product. A Hong Kong action film that set in the outer frontier that was Manchuria in the early 20th century; a setting that is quite reminiscent of the American frontier with its vast swaths of unsettled lands and a sense of ”lawlessness” pervading. So, Millionaires Express is a western of sorts injected with great kung fu action by trading guns for fists for the most part. Needless to say, hand to hand combat isn’t as fast and efficient at hurting people as guns, that doesn’t entail Millionaires Express is no less kinetic! Perhaps, it is more fast paced than a great majority of westerns out there, Millionaires Express is very briskly paced since it comes in around at a running time at only 90 minutes. Its character stories aren’t anything to write home about. The character stories aren’t memorable at all, but they do manage to at least keep your attention. Millionaires Express doesn’t attempt to mimic or match any great narrative from any great western, but its intentions are, rather humble; uses the backdrop of a western to showcase great action and stunts.But it uses this backdrop of the western to its maximum potential. Taking preconceived images and tropes, we have in our heads about westerns such as new deputies forced to defend their town or ravaging bandits. It executes these tropes with a kung fu flavor while adding riveting stunts to create an entertaining experience. The slapstick is no slouch either as it often uses amazing stunts within them. Richard Ng and Eric Tsang excel in this aspect although not skilled martial artist. The 80s was probably the era where martial art superstars Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao were at their peak ability, so you’re treated to their peak athleticism. This is an ensemble film littered with amusing cameos but also the main cast and supporting cast itself with a great deal of Hong Kong’s best-known acting alumni. It helps make many of the small roles in the supporting cast more memorable and strengthens the performance. The villains although entirely forgettable gain a bit of memorability through the strong ensemble cast. If viewed utterly objectively doesn’t seem like a typical great film but its greatness lies in its compactness, and how nearly each scene has entertainment value.

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