Tag Archives: Hong Kong

Review of Dragon Fist (1979)

4 Sep

Dragon Fist aka Long Quan (1979) is a Hong Kong martial arts/action/drama film.

Directed by Lo Wei (The Shadow Whip (1971), Slaughter in San Francisco (1974)).

Written by Wang Chung-Ping (Seven Promises (1979)).

Starring: Jackie Chan, Nora Miao, James Tien, Lin Yin-Ju, Chiang Kao, Yen Si-Kuan, Sha-fei Ouyang, Hsia Hsu and others.

I am not a huge fan of Jackie’s Lo Wei directed movies and I’m glad he succeeded in leaving his studio later on, which wasn’t that easy, it even resulted in such rubbish as Fearless Hyena 2, but I’ll get to that in some later review. However, this doesn’t mean that Jackie didn’t make any decent movies during this period. It’s a gamble, it might be bad like Magnificent Bodyguards or the previously mentioned Fearless Hyena 2, it might be good like…  and then there are movies like this, mediocre, which is arguably worse than bad, since you don’t feel passionately either way and soon forget them.

The movie opens with a fight between two men. One of them being Chan’s master wins. But then there’s another fight between the master and some evil master, who kicks Jackie’s master’s ass so hard, he soon dies. Jackie gets really pissed and vows revenge. Later on it is revealed that the bad master killed Jackie’s master because he had had an affair with his wife 18 (oddly specific) years ago. Somebody has been watching too many soap operas. And now his wife hangs herself out of guilt or sorrow. This shit just got dark.

Then some years pass and Jackie has gotten way better at his kung fu and now is ready to kick the one ass he couldn’t previously, the not-so-evil-master’s ass. Jackie comes to the guy, ready to exact his revenge, but the master asks for three more days. Jackie being the nice guy agrees and goes away. San Thye’s (the good/dead master) wife is poisoned so it opens up a new plotline with getting medication for her. Three days go by and [Spoilers!] the master has cut off his fucking leg and keeps it in a box. Surely Jackie won’t fight him now. [Spoilers end]

Jackie has to work for a drug gang to get the medicine for the widow. And overall, the plot of the movie is pretty interesting, not too predictable, has some twists. Compared to some other kung fu flicks, that seemed to have noodles to string together the fight scenes, here we get something more involving. The execution is a whole different thing, Lo Wei manages to make it kind of bland and forgettable.

The fight scenes are pretty good, but lack the inventiveness of later Chan’s work or other Chan’s work of the time for that matter, specifically with Yuen Woo-Ping.

Overall, a quite decent Chan flick, but not exactly what you would expect from him, it’s not that fun or funny, it’s just ok. It won’t make you a Jackie Chan fan, but if you’re already one, than, sure, check it out. Recommended.

“Hey, back away, you won’t touch these women!”
“Oh really? Says who?”
“Says I!”
“Who are you?”
“They call me Dragon Fist, because I dragon-fist assholes of assholes like you so hard that it’ll feel like you’re shitting lava after.”
“Geez, man, you… you really didn’t have to take it this far. Ok, we’re leaving, you sociopath.”

Review of The Young Master (1980)

19 Jul

The Young Master (1980) is a Hong Kong martial arts/action/comedy film.

Directed by Jackie Chan (The Fearless Hyena (1979), 1911 (2011)).

Written by Jackie Chan (Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu (1980)), Tin-Chi Lau (Knockabout (1979)), King Sang Tang (The Protector (1985)) and Lu Tung (The Invincible Armour (1977)).

Starring: Jackie Chan, Kien Shih, Pai Wei, Lily Li, Biao Yuen, Feng Feng, Feng Tien, Ing-Sik Whang and others.

The second movie Chan directed starts out a bit differently. He is a member of some school, but he’s neither the worst or the best student, he’s just there, so if you didn’t know who Chan is, you might spend almost half an hour not knowing he’s the protagonist. His school participates in some puppet dragon dance/fight competition, which is cool and you better enjoy it, because there’s a long time before another fight scene takes place.

But the wait is rewarded by one of the best fight scenes of Chan’s career. It’s a fight, where Jackie is wielding a huge-ass fan. Filming the fight allegedly took 329 takes to complete it. That is a lot. Oh, and don’t worry, after this, there’s not 5 minutes without another fight scene.

On this movie Chan seems to have discovered some zoom lenses or something, because he does that cheesy trick of zooming in and out of character faces for dramatic effect, it works about once and then gets funny and then just irritating.

There’s a scene where Chan fights a group of police-men wielding swords and one of them is a cross-eyed idiot. Now I really have to wonder why do Asians find cross-eyedness so funny and connect it with stupidity? Because almost every Asian-comedy of this time period had at least one cross-eyed and dumb guy.

The movie starts out serious, but it fluently transforms into a way more comedic movie, this is followed by Chan’s character’s intelligence decreasing as well. You could call it inconsistency of tone, though. Fight scenes also get sillier, besides the fan-fight, there’s this character, who carries around a bench, which he uses to kick-ass. Then there is a scene where Chan uses a pipe to fight of a guy, who is very careful not to break it, since it’s signed by imperator. Then he fights dressed as an old man, old man disguise is soon abandoned for  a skirt, which he uses as a matador. It’s crazy.

Oddly here, Chan needs no training montages, he’s a master fighter from the beginning. The last fight is cool from a technical standpoint and is considered the longest fight scene in any martial arts movie, it’s also the problem with it, it’s too long. Which is weird that they left so much of it, when they had to cut down the movie so much. They cut a 3-hour movie to 100 minutes, so, I guess, it’s not surprising that the plot itself doesn’t make much sense.

Overall, it’s a pretty decent one, has some great fight scenes, but other than that, at this point it seems like Chan keeps going over an all too familiar territory and he does it a couple of times more until moving on to more interesting projects. Recommended for Chan fans.

Pictured: The most uncomfortable and painful handshake ever.

Review of The Fearless Hyena (1979)

21 Jun

Xiao Quan Guai Zhao also known as The Fearless Hyena (1979) is a Hong Kong martial arts/comedy/action film.

Directed by Jackie Chan (Police Story (1985), Armour of God (1986)) and Kenneth Tsang (The Eternal Obsession (1976), Hoyat gwan tsoi loi (1991)).

Written by Jackie Chan (The Young Master (1980), Project A (1983)) and Wei Lo (Slaughter in San Francisco (1974), Tang shan da xiong (1971)).

Starring: Jackie Chan, James Tien, Dean Shek, Hui Lou Chen, Shi-Kwan Yen, Kun Li, Tien-chi Cheng and others.

Like Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow, Chan is basically an idiot in this one. Here even more so and he’s also a greedy, lazy dick, but he also knows how to fight right from the start.

His character lives with his grandfather, who trains him and also has a grey beard that poorly tries to cover up the fact that the grandfather looks like he’s no more than 20 years older than his grandson.

This is an odd movie, which doesn’t shy away from incredibly offensive scenes, like one where Chan pretends to be cross-eyed and mentally retarded, while fighting to the Pink Panther theme. It’s also kind of hilarious both in the wacky intended way and it’s offensiveness.

If you for some reason won’t find that scene odd enough, there’s another peculiar one, where Chan changes into a female kimono and make-up and fights a bit as a transvestite. However, it is less jarring, than the end of that fight scene. Chan knocks out a big guy by smashing an orange against his head, after he had smashed a brick on it just a minute ago with no difficulty.

After silly scenes like these you know what is going to happen. Something that will make Chan’s character take Kung Fu seriously. It’s a very similar movie to Drunken Master, released a year earlier.

The villain of course is this archetype I see in a lot of martial arts period pieces, a tall, older guy with long white hair and Fu-Manchu mustache, who kicks ass at literal ass-kicking.

Something bad happens and Chan starts his Rocky training montage, which is entertaining, but he’s had better ones. Chan, though, might be in his best shape possible, you can see his every muscle popping out as he trains.

The fights themselves aren’t very memorable, it relies more on the comedic aspects. There’s a lot of unnecessary comical sound effects and crotch hitting and the dress-up fights I already mentioned. There’s one cool „fight” scene, where Chan and his mentor fight for a piece of meat, using only chopsticks. And one bad ass 3-on-1 fight, where while two people are fighting, the rest don’t stand around, they actually attack at the same time, the choreography is impressive. At one point Chan just stabs a couple of guys and that’s just that. Feels a bit out-of-place.

They bring in this awful concept of „emotional kung fu”. The sorrow style is interesting to watch, but they all are just silly and gimmicky.

Overall, it’s a very cheesy kung fu comedy, if you don’t mind the over-the-top slapstick, I guess it’s worth checking out.

“You want some advice, Jackie?”
“Sure.”
“Don’t get used to leading roles. I once used to play young guys too, then twelve years ago something happened, now I’m grandpa.”
“Oh… hey, you’re twelve years older than me!”
“Exactly, Jackie, exactly.”

Review of Magnificent Bodyguards (1978)

7 Jun

Fei Du Juan Yun Shan also known as Magnificent Bodyguards (1978) is a Hong Kong martial arts/action film, it was the first Hong Kong movie filmed using 3D technology.

Directed by Wei Lo (Fist of Fury (1972), Dragon Fist (1979)).

Written by Lung Ku (The Magic Blade (1976), Butterfly and Sword (1993)).

Starring: Jackie Chan, Peng Cheng, Siu-Lung Leung, Kuo Chung Ching, Fang Fang, Yuen Hsu, Kuang Kao and others.

First scene of the movie I was really confused, they kept jumping and swinging sticks right in the camera. I thought “oh, this looks like it’s a 3D movie, what’s next? Am I going to get a yo-yo thrown in my face.” And then I found out it was an actual 3D movie. I wished I’d seen in 3D.

This is one of those few Chan movies, where he has long hair and I remember from my childhood that if I saw one of these on TV, I never quite understood what was going on in them and not surprisingly, since even now I found it terribly confusing, the bad English dub didn’t help either, I only could make sense of about half of what was said. So yeah, I didn’t get it as a kid and I don’t get it now, so I just watch it for the fight scenes.

Chan’s acting is unusual for him, he does play a cocky guy in other movies, but usually in a silly kind of way, here he is both an asshole, looks cool and kicks ass.

In some of the fight scenes there’s this over-the-top gore, which I like, but it seems a bit out-of-place, there’s a scene where a guy’s face is ripped off during a fight. The fights themselves are quite impressive, the choreography is tight. And it’s kind of weird, in some scenes people get stabbed and shit, it’s all serious and then there’s a scene where people just pick up boulders like in some cartoon and chuck them at other people.

The fighting sound effects are generally a lot more realistic than in other movies of this time. They all have some kind of echoing effect going on, so they have some sense of space and don’t feel just flatly put on in the editing room. Ok, they do, but less so than in, for example, Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow. Originally it had music from Star Wars used in its soundtrack, but my version of the movie sadly didn’t.

On a side note, one guy is wearing a pink robe. I wonder if in Hong Kong it doesn’t have these implications, but could he be a gay character?

I’m sure no one cares about the spoilers, so I’ll just go ahead and reveal the ending. It turns out that a short stocky woman was wearing a mask, pretending to be a tall, lean and strong white-haired man. She even fights the man she is impersonating, while in disguise. It makes very little sense.

Also the movie doesn’t really end, there’s a big fight scene with a lot of people and then another, smaller one in the woods and the fight doesn’t end, at one point it just freeze frames and the credits roll. I mean, I could kind of guess what happens next, but not really. Were they attempting an ambiguous ending? I’ll never know.

Overall, it’s confusing and the fight scenes after a while feel a bit repetitive. It’s a pretty bad movie. Definitely not recommended.

“You want me to stick this thing right into the camera?”
“Yes, that’s right!”
“As you say, Mr. Kha-Mer Uon.”