Saturday, 24 September 2011

12 HONG KONG KUNG FU MOVIES THAT KICK IT...HARD!!! (Part 3)




Part 3 of reantimator's look at 12 prime examples of Hong Kong cinema at it's best continues...


THE ODD COUPLE

 

The Hong Kong legends that are Sammo Hung and Lau Kar Wing (brother of 'The Pops' - Shaw Brothers master director / choreographer Lau Kar Leung) team up through their company GarBo films for this Kung Fu Classic.

The story centres on two aging and argumentative Kung Fu masters, played by Sammo and Kar Wing, who challenge each other every year to see who's Kung Fu is the best - with each competition ending up in a stale-mate.

Because of this they decide to have a wager to see if they can train two young novices (also played by Sammo / Kar Wing) in their respective specialties - Sammo's Sword and Kar Wing's Spear - to see which is best.

This movie kicks so much ass it's untrue, and the use of the duel roles elevates it above much of the Asian Fu Flicks of the time. There are stand out sequences aplenty, both of the martial and comedy kind. The fight between Sammo and the prolific Lee Hoi San (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin), as well as the awesomely OTT cameo from Dean Shek (from Drunken Master,A Better Tomorrow 2) are two such memorable moments.

See this at as soon as possible, it's late 70's Hong Kong Cinema at it's peak...and not a Walter Matthau or Jack Lemon in sight!

SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW

 

After Jackie Chan was having a hard time under the auspices of Lo Wei, and had suffered numerous box office disappointments in the form of movies such as Shaolin Wooden Men / Shaolin Chamber of Death, New Fist of Fury and Magnificent Bodyguards, he was put on loan to Ng See Yuen's Seasonal Film Corporation...and then people stood up an took notice.

Snake In The Eagle's Shadow was the first of two collaboration's between Jackie and N.G (which is how many refer to Ng See Yuen as), the second being the phenomenally successful Drunken Master- both films, by the way, were directed by Kung Fu choreography master, Yuen Woo Ping - who's now known to the world through his work on Hollywood hits like The Matrix, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Kill Bill. As a side note, Alexander Fu Sheng was originally cast in Jackie's role, but Sir Run Run Shaw (head of Shaw Brothers) disallowed it, allowing Jackie his big break.

The film has the usual setup: Introduce bad guy with an action sequence (the bad guy in question? The AMAZING Korean super-kicker, Wang Jang Lee - or however else you want to spell his name!!!). Introduce our poor-boy - bullied-by-his peers - orphan and hero-in-waiting (Jackie). Introduce Kung Fu Master that helps him learn Kung Fu (Father of Woo Ping, Simon Yuen Siu Tin - who's later movies pretty much always featured a variation on the Beggar character he plays here). Then fill the movie with great Kung fu skirmishes / training sequences that culminate in an all out battle with multiple bad guys. THE END!

In all seriousness though, this movie is the mutts nuts. Everything about it screams class - the music, the characterization (Dean Shek and gweilo Roy Horan put in particularly standout performances), the pace...and, of course, the fantastic martial arts action that really fits the bill.

Definitely a Jackie Chan film - pre Golden Harvest - that's worth a look.



 

Another Lau Kar Leung movie hits our list of twelve - and deservingly so!

This entry into the Shaw Brothers oeuvre really is awesome in every aspect, which is surprising seeing as it was considerably reworked after the untimely death of Alexander Fu Sheng (Chinatown Kid, Shaolin Temple) in a car accident.

Instead of Sheng taking out the Manchu's that killed the best part of his family, Gordon Liu (adopted brother of 'The Pops') steps up as one of the Yang Family brothers (which also includes Hsiao Ho, from My Young Auntie), loyal to the Sung Dynasty, who takes refuge at the Shaolin Temple to get away from his violent past.

That is until he learns that the Manchu's have kidnapped his sister (played by Kara Hui - one time Ex of Lau Kar Leung, and star of many Shaw's and Golden Harvest hits), whereupon he leaves Shaolin to get her back - with a little help from the monks.

This film is so darn good it makes reantimator wanna puke nuts 'n' bolts. It has it's weaknesses (especially if you watch the dubbed version!) - like over doing it on the acting front in a few places, but you will totally forgive it when you see some of the jaw-dropping fight scenes featuring people like Philip Ko (The Boxer's Omen, Shaolin Intruders) and Wang Lung Wei (Return To The 36th Chamber, Project A 2).

See it...SEE IT RIGHT NOW!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4
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