In Johnnie To’s 1992 action comedy Justice, My Foot!, justice is far from blind. In fact, it is downright crooked.
The convoluted plot centres around Sung Sai-Kit (Stephen Chow) a lawyer in Guangdong who has a track record of winning all of his cases. Part of Sung’s success comes from the fact that he is willing to do whatever it takes, no matter who he walks over in the process, to come out on top. His habits have not come without a price though. Sung and his wife Madam Sung (Anita Mui) have lost 13 sons, all of whom have not lived passed a year-old.
Deciding to retire from the legal world, and open his own business, Sung finds life away from court to be rather dull. When the opportunity to make amends for his past actions, and get back into the legal field, presents itself, Sung sees this as an offer that he simply cannot refuse. Sung’s journey to redemption will have him pulling out every trick and scheme in his arsenal as he goes up against corrupt magistrates who have a vested interest in him losing the case.
Justice, My Foot! is one of those comedies that works best when one does not stress to much over the plot. Filled with exaggerated performances and recurring gags, take one of the magistrate’s flatulence problem for example, To’s film openly embraces its silliness at every corner. The light overall tone not only provides plenty of laughs, but allows the moments of action to truly standout.
As fun as the action sequences are, especially the centrepiece fight on the street an hour into the film, it is the work of Stephen Chow and Anita Mui that keep the film afloat. Those familiar with films such as Kung Fu Hustle, Shaolin Soccer, The Legend of Drunken Master and Rumble in the Bronx know that both Chow and Mui are gifted when it comes to comedic timing. They each hold their own here while generating laughs through their exquisite physical work in the film.
If there is a film that is ripe for putting your feet up and just going with the insanity on screen, it is Justice, My Foot! One may not remember much of the plot afterwards, but it won’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. The film is more concerned with offering a fun comedic ride and in that regard it succeeds.
Saturday, November 11, 9 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
This film is part of TIFF Cinematheque’s Johnnie To: Expect the Unexpected series running from October 26th to December 28th