The Private Eyes (1976)

The Private Eyes (1976)

The Private Eyes is a 1976 Hong Kong comedy film directed by and starring Michael Hui and co-starring Samuel Hui and Ricky Hui and featuring Richard Ng in his second film role. John Woo was the production designer and also co-director though he was uncredited.Sammo Hung served as the film's action director and Jackie Chan was also a stuntman. This is the third film of the Hui Brothers and it is the first film that established the Hui Brothers' comedies internationally.


The film revolves around the exploits of a detective agency in Hong Kong called Mannix Private Detective Agency. It is headed by private detective Wong Yeuk Sze (Michael Hui) with his emotionally drained assistant Puffy (Ricky Hui). Meanwhile, Lee Kwok Kit (Samuel Hui), a kung fu expert, who works at a Vitasoy plant factory and spends most of the time doing kung fu tricks to impress a girl, ultimately loses his job. Seeking to find another line of work, Lee attempts to joins Wong's detective agency. Despite Lee's impression with his kung fu talent which involves his snatching trick, Wong was not impressed. Then, as it appears that Lee would not get the job, Wong discovers that his wallet was missing and was presumed stolen by one bystander who bumped into them, which led to a scene where Wong fights the thief in the kitchen using sausage nunchaku as a weapon. Wong's onslaught backfires, and just as the thief walks away, Lee intercepts him and recovers the wallet, thus impressed Wong to hire him for the job. In truth, the wallet was in Wong's possession the whole time; they attacked an innocent bystander and stole his wallet.

The trio work together to serve their clients in many situations. For example, they were hired by a woman to capture photos of his husband's affair with another woman so she can get reward money at court. Later, they were also hired by a supermarket owner to foil an upcoming shoplifting case which leads to a scene where Lee puts his kung fu skills in use to fight thugs.

The most important part of the film is when a gang of robbers led by Uncle Nine (Shih Kien) who demands ransom from a cinema mogul. He then leads his gang to extort movie goers and Wong is one of them, who struggles against Uncle Nine in the mayhem, injuring his leg in the process. Lee, in the midst of the chaos, catches a few of the thugs and beats them up. Later, the gang leaves in an ice cream trunk that one thugs stole from the street, but Lee had defeated the thug earlier as he drives them to the police station. Along the way, Lee turns on the freezer which freezes the gang in the back. At the police station, Lee hands in the thugs to a police sergeant (Richard Ng), who appears throughout the film, both as a pursuer and as an investigation case to Wong and Lee. Lee later receives a good citizen award and leaves Wong's agency to start his own. Puffy also joins Lee.

Months later, an injured Wong returns to his agency with no assistant and no clients, who all went to Lee's agency known as Cannon Detective Service. Lee makes a deal with Wong to work together with Lee getting a higher share of profits. Wong refuses, and later learned a snatching trick from Lee, who was doing it in the beginning. Lee then offers a deal to work with Wong where they share half of the profits.

The Front Page (1990) (新半斤八兩), unrelated to the 1976 film, reunites the trio of the Hui Brothers, which is also the last film the three appeared together. This time the story revolves around the exploits of a tabloid magazine company. Like its predecessor, their exploits throughout the film resulted in investigation on celebrity scandals and their unfortunate situation involving the trio and a group of bank robbers.


Michael Hui
Samuel Hui
Ricky Hui
Richard Ng
Shih Kien
Angie Chiu
Chieh Yuan
Joe Junior
Jackie Chan

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