Aces Go Places Sam Hui Koon-kit, Karl Maka, Sylvia Chang Ai-chia, Dean Shek Tin Director: Eric Tsang Chi-wai The Chinese title translates as 'Best Partners', an apt description of the zany aces who helped change the face of modern Hong Kong comedy. But on a more significant level, it also points to the connection Aces Go Places made with contemporary audiences, propelling the 1982 Lunar New Year release into the box office stratosphere and setting a new standard of slickness for the local film industry. With ticket sales surpassing HK$26 million - a phenomenal accomplishment when the top-priced balcony seat was just HK$15 - Aces Go Places and its sequels (which numbered four by decade's end) constitute one of the era's 'collective memories', a pop culture touchstone that continues to influence the local scene both stylistically and in terms of the careers launched. The newly founded Cinema City Film Company and its roster of fresh talent in front of and behind the camera injected a cosmopolitan savvy into Hong Kong celluloid evidenced by intricate stunts requiring a greater budget and technical dexterity than anything previously on view. The screenplay by Raymond Wong Pak-ming is almost incidental, a jewel heist with shades of James Bond and a soupcon of The Godfather, but mostly a pretext for the antics of its pack of aces and jokers. Chief among them is diamond thief King Kong (Sam Hui), bald detective Kodojack (Karl Maka, whose performance won the Hong Kong Film Award for best actor), and butch police officer Nancy Ho (Sylvia Chang, second right with Hui, first right, and Maka). They and others constitute a motley crew working separately and together to outfox the Italian mafia in recovering some stolen diamonds. The film's real treasure is the chemistry between the principals and their way with dialogue and sight gags set on land, sea, air and even an ingeniously mirrored elevator. While much of the plot is silly-juvenile rather than silly-clever, some of the stunts remain impressive for their CGI-less execution. Hui's physical derring-do is shown to good advantage in the introductory sequence shot in then ultra-modern Tsim Sha Tsui East, featuring a high-wire heist followed by a glider getaway. He and Maka are the very definition of offbeat Hong Kong cool, and while Chang's role is sexist in the extreme, with the tomboy turning into blushing schoolgirl when she falls for Kodojack's dubious charms, the two make an engaging if stereotypical odd couple. Not least of the movie's enduring legacies is Hui's self-composed and performed title tune, whose several reprises include one of Hong Kong cinema's more joyous music montages. An even more important legacy is the roster of then-young talent still active today, from art director William Cheung Suk-ping and cinematographer Arthur Wong Ngok-tai to scriptwriter Raymond Wong and director Eric Tsang, who respectively directed the recent Chinese New Year blockbusters All's Well Ends Well Too 2010 and 72 Tenants of Prosperity, although neither came close to achieving the innovativeness of their 28-year-old collaboration.