Joe Cheung’s Rosa is a buddy movie produced by Sammo Hung, that pairs the perennially underrated Yuen Biao (who also directs the action) with singer-actor Lowell Lo, with a script (though as often for Hong Kong films of the eighties, ‘outline’ would be a better word) by Wong Kar Wai. But despite that interesting pedigree, it doesn’t truly stick out from the mass of Hong Kong comedies of the decade. Yuen and Lo play cops who get on their superior officer’s (Paul Chun) wrong side but get a chance to redeem themselves by locating a police informant who has critical evidence against a local gangster (James Tien, not exactly cast against type). Their main help in finding him is his girlfriend Rosa (Luk Siu Fan), a model with whom Lo falls in love, while Yuen himself becomes romantically involved with Lo’s sister (Kara Hui). All those feelings, plus the two cops’ constant bickering, slows down the investigation to a crawl, until the gangster decides to take action.
In following the template of Hong Kong action comedies of the eighties, Rosa features a lot of bantering, pratfalls and slapstick, with no real action scene save for an ending warehouse brawl. The comedy is mostly uninspired and often dragged down by Lowell Lo’s loud, hyperactive shtick, though Paul Chun is good fun as the duo’s vain superior officer. Yuen Biao and Kara Hui bring their immense likeability and an easy-going chemistry between each other, and Luk Siu Fan provides the film with ample sexiness (though the film treats her mostly as walking cleavage), but the finale is the only thing that sticks in the mind : Yuen Biao trades blows with Dick Wei as they take the fight to a cold room (it’s a joy to watch but not on a par with their dizzying match-up in Millionaire’s Express), while Kara Hui takes on multiple henchmen and James Tien chases Lowell Lo around with a buzzsaw in a meat locker. If only the whole film had been as inspiredly fun.
Long Story Short : An uninspired comedy that drags along until a fun action finale, Rosa should have been much better considering the talent involved. **