May 5, 2011


Hoo-wee, now this is a kung-fu film that knows how to have a little fun! As you can tell by the poster, this is an action fung-fu flick desperately hearkening back to the 70's golden age of the genre; which is no bad thing.

The first minutes of the film are aggressively stylised and quickly become a challenge to keep up with. But boy did I have a big grin on my face. Our nominal "hero" is Cheung, a weedy, curly-haired hipster of an office worker. As a kid, he stood tall as "Super-Cheung" and bullied another kid remorselessly. Now though, he's on the lowest of the low rungs at the real estate office and after once again screwing up is sent off to a remote village (without pay) to secure some property rights. Once there he finds himself mixed up with bullies, warring dojos and a catatonic Grand Master. But whatever, right? This is all just guff to get us to the chop-socky action.

And this is some pretty damned fine, non-CG, non-wire assisted ass-kickin'. And I was a little surprised at just how much I appreciated that fact; it isn't often in modern movies where there isn't even a little bit of CG or wire assistance. It helps to have someone like Siu-Lung Leung as Tiger, one of the first Masters and introduced with a neat little title. Leung was one of the biggest stars of kung-fu films back in the 70's and 80's, but you're more likely to recognise him from the recent Kung-Fu Hustle. Kuan Tai Hen as Tiger's fellow Master, Dragon, was also a leading action star of the golden age. These guys may be past their prime, but boy can they still move. They lend a certain sense of history to proceedings and really show these young punks how it's really done.

In addition to Tiger and Dragon, our young hipster hero comes into contact with their Master, Grand Master Law, who has been in a coma the last couple of decades. Thankfully, just when things are starting to slow down he wakes up and there is a brief period of the old "placate the recently awoken coma guy" shenanigans. Master Law is a Yoda-like figure: a tiny, ancient master. But, y'know, if Yoda smoked cigars, drank brandy and went to strip clubs. It's possible the film-makers had a little too much fun with the character of Law though, as things begin to wander before getting back on track.  

While the film may move at it's own strange pace, with an off-kilter rhythm, and feel constrained sometimes (fight scenes shot only in medium close-ups against walls and the fact that we never see the tournament) it carries a great, infectious, sense of fun. Gallants has more than enough character moments and good ole' fashioned kung-fu fight scenes to leave you smiling and remind you that the best action, is physical action.

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