Second time at the well rings the bell with “Mr. Mumble,” a much more faithful reworking of the saucy Japanese manga “City Hunter” that Jackie Chan essayed in sanitized form four years ago. Laden with snazzy direction, stylish comedy and lotsa babes and action, this Hong Kong transplant centered on a private dick with a permanent case of sex on the brain could well catch on as a latenight fest item and vid pick among Western buffs. With no topline stars, however, local B.O. was bland on release last October.
Co-scripter Michael Chow plays the title role, renamed Ben Chow (nickname Mumble), an ace marksman with a police commando unit who’s fired after arriving late for a disastrous training exercise. After helping out damsel in distress Cher (Pauline Suen) but not even getting to first base with her, Mumble is then lured by sex-on-legs Lau Tan (Amy Chung) to the home of a triad boss, who hires him to find his missing daughter — none other than Cher.
After Cher’s slimy fiance is murdered, Mumble is rehired as her bodyguard, as well as stalked by the mysteriousWai-heung (Jessica Suen), who believes he was responsible for her father’s death. Mumble is forced to put his courting of Cher on hold, though. First her father is kidnapped, and then some of Mumble’s former commando buddies are hired to take Mumble out.
Dressed in the same sharp jacket and red T-shirt throughout, and possessing amazing skills beneath his laid-back front, Mumble comes across as a likable reprobate who’s putty in the hands of anything in a skirt. Chow plays him straight and with considerable charm, and the rest of the cast — from cute, miniskirted Pauline Suen to the hotsy Chung — play it to the limit with their cartoonish characters. Glamorous Francoise Yip adds a touch of class as Mumble’s former boss, who’s immune to his charms.
Stunts and action sequences are inventive, and the physical comedy packed with running jokes and not reliant on the usual Cantonese mugging and pratfalls. Though the whole package is relentlessly hip, it has a good-natured charm that’s winning, and hardly ever flags. Tech credits are good, and the main musical theme is catchy.