DADDY, FATHER & PAPA
(Hong Kong 1991)
Original Title: Lao Dou Wu Pa Duo
Directed by Clifton Ko Produced by Raymond Wong, Clifton Ko, Simon Yip Action by Chris Lee Kin Sang
Starring: Sammo Hung, Raymond Wong, Gabriel Wong, Teresa Mo, Liu Wai Hung, Tommy Wong Kwong Leung, Bin Bin, Paul Wong, Simon Yip, Teddy Yip, Vincent Kok, James Tien
Reviewing: Fortune Star/Joy Sales HK VCD Release
Genres: Comedy / Action / Drama
Rating - 3.3 / 5
VCD Synopsis: A seven-year-old Ben takes delight in getting into mischief. One day, his naughty ways lead him into serious trouble. A list of triad members has fallen into his hands and he is kidnapped by the notorious gangsters. Treating as one of his usual pranks, his dad is undisturbed by Ben's sudden disappearance and makes no attempts to trace his whereabouts. However, Ben is in hot pursuit of a policeman and a reporter, as they both believe Ben is their son. An amusing chase by the rescue party then begins...
Views: This Hong Kong remake of Les Comperes is rarely talked about today by fans of the jaded screen, although not for any reason in particular. The film opens with cute child-actor Bin Bin, from classics such as Magic Crystal and A Book Of Heroes, in school and making a mockery of a bully classmate. Although often spoiled by his mother, he's an only-child that just wants to be loved by his over-powering father and often feels very lonely. He finds a bit of friendship with Pierre, a very flamboyant neighbour that likes to invent and work with robotic toys. After a bad report card comes home, Bin Bin is locked in his room by his dick of a dad, but soon escapes to find solace in a nearby park. While relaxing on a bench, Bin Bin witnesses some gangsters chasing down a man who, before taking his last breath, throws the kid a roll of film and tells him to run! As the victim is choked to death, Bin Bin escapes on his bike with the gangsters hot on his tail. During the chase, Bin Bin disposes of the roll by throwing it through Pierre's window before returning home to the wrath of his father and the gangsters hiding in his bedroom. With his room ransacked and Bin Bin gone, his mum decides to do whatever she can to get him back, including telling two previous boyfriends (one a policeman, one a reporter) that Bin Bin just might be theirs. As the rescue mission begins, things get a little out of hand that leads to many hilarious antics and fight-action in an attempt to get Bin Bin home safely!
The first thing that attracts you to Daddy, Father & Papa is it's fantastic cast. And while it may have a powerhouse martial artist like Sammo Hung headlining the film, this 1991 production does tend to focus more-so on the comedy side of things as oppose to the action. Sammo plays Hung (and why not), who has been convinced that he may be the father of Bin Bin due to a relationship he had with the child's mother many years ago. I've always loved Sammo in comedy roles as I think he pulls it off perfectly, and here he proves why over the course of many different situations. Ever popular comedy-actor and all-round film-maker, Raymond Wong, plays the other possible father to Bin Bin and a reporter with a crazy stroke of bad luck. Both characters are introduced back into her life via very different flashbacks (which is hilarious in itself) before they set out in search of their son. The woman in question is played by the fantastic Teresa Mo, who I just adore. From All's Well That Ends Well to Hard Boiled, Legend Of The Dragon to An Inspector Calls, Teresa never fails to entertain and continues to prove her worth as a comedy actress here. The hilarious Gabriel Wong stars as Pierre, the gay toymaker with high-blood pressure and trademark large glasses who always finds himself in the middle of their trouble. Liu Wai Hung plays Bin Bin's real father who is an abusive and loud-mouthed man that just cares about money. It's only when he realises that his role is questioned and his son is actually missing, do we start to see a change in his ways. Daddy, Father & Papa would prove to be Bin Bin's final role as a child actor, disappearing from the scene altogether for over 20 years before returning in 2015 for one final role in Sorry, Baby – a Chinese mainland comedy that also starred his own son, Little Bin. Kung-fu star and popular gangster actor James Tien plays Brother Ho, the triad boss who wants his negatives back no matter what. He is backed by the great Tommy Wong Kwong Leung and Paul Wong, who do the most of his dirty work – with Paul taking a liking to the young captive over the course of the story, and defecting from his boss in order to help Bin Bin.
Written by no less than 5 screenwriters, including Joe Ma and Vincent Kok, Daddy, Father & Papa is hardly the greatest film in the world but it does prove to be quite entertaining. Directed by Hong Kong film veteran and actor Clifton Ko, the man behind hits such as Happy Ghost, Chicken & Duck Talk, Gambling Ghost, and Esprit D'Amour, the film doesn't lag for a second but it certainly doesn't benefit from having so many writers behind it. The final 30 minutes sees things take a turn as the gangsters start to get a little more heavy handed with Bin Bin taken hostage once again, along with his real dad – and eventually, everyone else. It's here we get to see a bit more stunt work introduced that leads to a brief shoot-out, explosions, and exchange of punches underwater. It's hardly a career-defining moment for an action-legend such as Sammo Hung, but it fits with the overall tone of the film at the end of the day. I did find it strange however that while it may be shy of the hardcore martial arts we would have expected from a Hong Kong movie of this era (especially with Hung in the cast), those in charge would secure the services of someone like Chris Lee as their action-director. For anyone that doesn't know, Lee was one of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team members that ended up in a coma after the incredible double-decker bus stunt went wrong in Police Story. Apart from starring in many classics such as Project A, Eastern Condors, Miracles, In The Line Of Duty 3, and Full Contact, Lee was also behind the action in My Flying Wife, Burning Paradise, Project A 2, and Twin Dragons. He also took the reins of director on hits such as Queens High with Cynthia Khan,and Crystal Fortune Run with Cheung Man, who he would work with once again on Back For Your Life. But in Daddy, Father & Papa, he really didn't have much to do and the action could have quite easily been handled by Hung himself. Regardless, it still makes for an entertaining film that (while far from perfect) has plenty of funny moments that's backed by a great cast, who I always enjoy watching...
Overall: A feel good movie that may lack action, but still offers plenty of laughs and fun moments!
(Hong Kong 1980)
Original Title: Kong Shou Ru Bai Ren
Directed by Wilson Tong, Cheung Sum Produced by Alex Gouw Action by Wilson Tong
Starring: Wilson Tong, Meng Yuen Man, Lily Li, Peter Chan Lung, Cheng Kang Yeh, Alan Chui, Wong Yat Fei, Sai Gwa Pau, Cheung Sum, Yeung Wah, Billy Chan
Reviewing: Amazon Prime UK Release
Genres: Traditional Kung Fu / Drama
Rating - 4 / 5
Synopsis: Ching (Meng Yuen Man) is determined to become a kung-fu expert, yet each time he begins to train with a new master, they are mysteriously assassinated. Killer Bah (Wilson Tong) is a professional assassin whose use of the secret daggers makes him an unbeatable killing machine. Ching swears to avenge all his master's deaths and prepares by developing his skills to perfection.
Views: From Goldig Films and the fantastic Wilson Tong, comes Daggers 8 – a movie inspired by the likes of Drunken Master and Snake In The Eagles Shadow (like many before it), and packed with great moves and kung-fu battles, funny comedy, and a decent cast. The highly enjoyable Meng Yuen Man plays Ching, cheeky rich boy with great kung-fu. It's a role akin to that of Jackie's in Dragon Lord, with Ching even having a house assistant that tries to help him trick his grandfather with his studies. Ching's grandfather despises the fact that his youngest grandson only cares about kung-fu, and after his older brother turns up dead due to a fight, resorts to locking Ching up. It doesn't take long for Ching to escape and start his journey in finding a kung-fu master that will teach him...
The first comes in the shape of Peter Chan Lung, a restaurant owner who helps Ching when he gets into some bother protecting a girl from some horny men – one of which is Dragon Lord co-star, Cheng Kang Yeh. In a nearby village, assassin Wilson Tong turns up at a book store where he is pointed to a particular book that holds the contract for his next hit, which happens to be Ching's new master. Chan Lung soon meets his end when Tong arrives at the restaurant and attacks him. Later in the day, Ching arrives back to find his master murdered, and without knowing how or why continues on his journey. The happy-go-lucky fighter soon runs into a couple of bandits on the road who attack and try to rob him. While he holds his own against them, Ching soon finds help from a new kung-fu master that helps put a stop to things. This new master is Alan Chui, who takes offense to Ching calling him teacher but quickly buckles and agrees to take Ching as a student. Of course, after some time has passed, Chiu soon finds himself up against the deadly Tong and is soon killed like Chan Lung before him. Moving on once again, Ching runs into the wonderful Lily Li – a pretty girl with fantastic moves who kicks his ass a couple of times before agreeing to take him on as a student. As with the rest, she soon comes face-to-face with Tong in one of the film's highlight moments. A final twist leaves Ching's grandfather dead, though not before he confesses his secrets to the young fighter that all leads to an incredible showdown between Tong and Ching, with both stars delivering some great moves and Meng finally letting loose!
While he didn't star in many films over the course of his career, in comparison to many other kung-fu actors of that era, Meng Yuen Man still made quite the impression. Getting in with Shaw Brothers from an early age, Meng would go on to kick-ass and entertain in titles like The Dragon Missile, Hell's Windstaff, The Fighting Fool, and The Master Strikes with famed director and choreographer, Tony Ching Siu Tung. He continues to impress here, both with his comedy and kung-fu skills, getting to show some incredible moves for the majority of the films running time. Co-director and fight-choreographer Wilson Tong offers some of his best stuff, both as a co-star and director while giving everyone the chance to shine as much as he does himself. Daggers 8 would be his third feature as a director after the fantastic Kung-Fu Genius, and Snake Deadly Act, and is joined behind the camera by Cheung Sum who also plays Ching's grandfather. As always, it's great to see the likes of Peter Chan Lung, Alan Chiu, and Lily Li in any film, and interesting to note that Miss Li would also deliver an equally fantastic role in Jackie Chan's Young Master, shot the same year. She's an incredible kung-fu starlet that rarely fails to deliver, and gets to show off some incredible moves here – right down to her deadly fight with Wilson Tong. Popular Hong Kong actor and comedy star, Wong yat Fei, more internationally known for his role in Shaolin Soccer, stars as Ching's house assistant, with appearances from regular faces such as Cheng Kang Yeh, Billy Chan, and prolific actor Sai Gwa Pau – who has an incredible 800+ titles to his name.
While Daggers 8 may just seem like another kung-fu comedy, it is one of the better copy-cat films of that time offering neat direction and decent camerawork. It also wins with such a great cast and Wilson Tong's choreography, which is always a joy to watch. Like most titles from Goldig Films, Daggers 8 is worth the watch and quite enjoyable – even if it's a case of having seen it all before. One of the forgotten stars of the infamous Seven Little Fortunes troupe with Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao, Daggers 8 would be one of three Meng Yuen Man films produced in 1980, before he would retire from the business in 1982 after suffering a heart attack...
Overall: Great kung-fu and decent comedy add to a top cast that makes Daggers 8 worth the watch!
DANCE OF DEATH
(Hong Kong 1979)
Original Title: Wu Quan
(aka) The Eternal Conflict
Directed by Chen Chi Hwa Produced by Yen Wu Tong Action by Jackie Chan, Peng Kang
Starring: Angela Mao Ying, Paul Chun, Dean Shek, Hsu Pu Liao, Chia Kai, Sun Jung Chi, Yu Sung Chao, Chi Fu Chiang, Hsiao Yao, Lui Wang Biu, Wang Tai Lang, Ko Pao, Chen Chi Hwa
Reviewing: Wu Tang Clan/Ground Zero US DVD Release
Genres: Traditional Kung-Fu / Comedy
Rating - 4 / 5
DVD Synopsis: Superstar Jackie Chan action directs this kung fu classic, starring Lady Kung Fu herself, Angela Mao Ying. The Long Braid Mantis King is out to destroy the Beggar Clan once and for all. It's up to the Beggar Queen to stop the kung fu holocaust from happening! Jackie Chan was at the top of his game when he took on this epic project. Top flight hand techniques and skills are the trademark of this classic. Do not miss this!!
Views: After opening with a display of kung-fu from the wonderful Angela Mao Ying in an obligatory red-room sequence, we find the scruffy looking orphan-boy (yes, she is playing a boy here) stumble upon a fight in an old temple. The two fighting men, Hu and Madman, are kung-fu masters who meet for a duel every 5 years – and always end in a draw. After a friend is killed by some fighters of the evil Bird Gang, Ying convinces the two bumbling masters to teach her some new styles so that she can take revenge. They eventually agree and teach her the 5 Forms Technique, along with a new one called the Dance Style. Once brought together, Mao Ying will have perfected the moves needed to defeat her enemies!
I first saw (and bought) Dance Of Death way back in 2003 on a trip to New York. I remember it being quite enjoyable back then, but I don't think I've ever watched it again until now – and I have to wonder why. It's still such a fun film, bursting with the same style of mad-cap kung-fu comedy as Jackie Chan's classic Spiritual Kung-Fu, Drunken Master, and Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu, from just a couple years before. Saying that, I find it is very similar in tone to Fearless Hyena which was shot the same year, but I'm not too sure what came first. Of course, the two major reasons behind this would be that Jackie Chan himself was behind the fight choreography (more on that in a bit), brought in by his close friend and director Chen Chi Hwa who had already directed the martial-arts-legend in the likes of Lo Wei's Shaolin Wooden Men, Snake And Crane Arts Of Shaolin, and the aforementioned Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu. Jackie had already lent his services to Chen in helping choreograph some of the action in 36 Crazy Fists, but in Dance Of Death, it seems he was a bit more hands-on overall. As the tables turned for both directors, it would be Chen Chi Hwa who would go on to work for Jackie soon after, working as a co-director on many of his biggest hits such as Young Master, Police Story 1 & 2, Project A 2, Miracles, Drunken Master 2, and Armour Of God 2: Operation Condor – where he also cameoed as the weedy little adventurer who had been forced to marry the native in the films opening scenes...
Aside from some great kung-fu and funny comedy – typical of its time – Dance Of Death boasts a great cast with the always incredible Angela Mao Ying in the lead. Although playing a male role, her beauty and feminine characteristics shine through which makes you forget about the gender swap after a while. Of course, that all comes secondary when you see Mao Ying in action as she delivers a host of incredible moves, great forms, and impressive acrobatics. I can honestly say I probably haven't seen the femme-fatale move quite as well in any other production. Jackie's choreography makes it feel like the man himself is in the role (or at least, could easily have been), as he puts Mao Ying through her paces and no doubt demanded the best of what she could possibly do on a physical level. Prolific actor Paul Chun Pui, brother to superstars David Chiang and Derek Yee, stars as Ku Cheng Yuan – Ying's new friend who gets killed by the Bird Clan and the reason for her seeking revenge. I've always enjoyed seeing Paul on-screen in films such as Peking Opera Blues, Legend Of The Owl, The Adventurers, and many more as well as his stint in Chen's very own 36 Crazy Fists. The ever-energetic Dean Shek reprises his typical role of wacky assistant to the big villain, complete with wiry moustache, cheeky looks, and slapstick kung-fu. Although he has starred in many classics as this character, I never tire of seeing him and always enjoy his silliness.
Angela's masters are played by two of the odder actors from this era with the first being Hsu Pu Liao, the crazy character actor from Fantasy Mission Force. Known as the Chinese Chaplin, Hsu managed to star in over 60 films in only 10 years, before passing away at 34 due to alcohol-induced hepatitis and, ultimately, heart failure. While his kung-fu was never anything to write home about, Hsu won fans with his crazed comedy characters and was usually fun to watch. Her second master is played by Wang Tai Lang, a familiar face that starred in films such as One Armed Boxer Vs. The Flying Guillotine, Secret Of The Shaolin Poles, Militant Eagle, and played one of the ghosts in Jackie's own Spiritual Kung-Fu. Apart from a cameo the following year, Dance Of Death would prove to be his last major role. While other popular faces appear through-out, including a cameo from the director himself, the last major actor I'd like to mention is Chia Kai who plays the main villain of the film, Mu Fa Shan. Although only working over the course of a decade from the mid 70s to the mid 80s, Kai starred in many classics such as 10 Brothers Of Shaolin, Kung Fu Of Seven Steps, Mars Villa and Mantis Under Falcon Claws – of which he was also the action-director for. While most of his moves are saved for the awesome closing battle, he was definitely a great addition to the cast!
Behind the camera, and fresh off his success from Snake In The Eagles Shadow and Drunken Master, Jackie Chan was brought in as the fight-director for Dance Of Death – and it shows. Joining him is Peng Kang, an actor and choreographer that had worked with the star on Spiritual Kung-Fu, Half A Loaf Of Kung-Fu, Fearless Hyena, and Dragon Fist. Beyond that, Peng got in on titles such as Snake Deadly Act, Ninja In The Dragons Den, Matching Escort, and A Life Of Ninja. Between them, the duo pack Dance Of Death with some fantastic fight scenes while allowing Angela Mao Ying to display some of her best moves ever, with the choreography presenting her as the female Jackie Chan of which she pulls-off perfectly. From fights in the village to extensive and highly impressive finale, I can only imagine how much more of a hit this film would have been had Jackie himself been in the role. While Dance Of Death may not offer fans anything fresh in regards to its story – something very typical of this era – Chen Chi Hwa makes sure the focus is on the fights, something of which is brings plenty of. The comedy isn't as daft as a lot of other titles from this period and does offer a few chuckles through-out, and I must admit it was refreshing to see Mao Ying in such a role. I only wish she had had the chance to do more like this, as well as had been directed by Jackie a bit more often when it came to the action. Although it is often missed on peoples lists of kung-fu favourites, Dance Of Death may not be perfect, but it certainly entertains on many levels – especially with its fight scenes. Now if someone like 88 Films would give us a cleaned-up restoration of the film in its original language, I'm sure it would gain a lot of new fans and let the world see just how amazing Angela Mao Ying really was, in 4K...
Overall: Fast paced, with a great cast and fantastic kung-fu fights, Dance Of Death is well worth the watch and one of Mao Ying's finest hours!
DVD Extras: Trailers, Bonus Fights, Fighting Technique Demonstration, Music Video
DANCE OF THE DRUNK MANTIS
(Hong Kong 1979)
Original Title: Nan Bei Zui Quan
(aka) Drunken Master Part 2; South North Drunk Fist
Directed by Yuen Woo Ping Produced by Ng See Yuen Action by The Yuen Clan, Corey Yuen Kwai
Starring: Simon Yuen, Yuen Shun Yee, Hwang Jang Lee, Linda Lin Jing, Yen Shi Kwan, Dean Shek, Corey Yuen Kwai, Lee Fat Yuen, Chin Yuet Sang, Brandy Yuen, Yuen Mao
Reviewing: Soulblade UK DVD Release
Genres: Traditional Kung-Fu / Comedy
Rating - 4.3 / 5
DVD Synopsis: A year after training a young Jackie Chan in the Drunken Fist, Sam Seed returns home to find that his wife has adopted a son (Foggy), Sam dislikes the lad and tortures him mentally and physically. Devastated, the boy runs away and takes a job at an inn where he meets Rubber Legs and his student. He overhears that they are looking for Sam Seed and want to kill him, making Rubber Legs' northern Drunk Mantis Boxing supreme. Foggy returns home to warn Sam Seed, who is then injured by Rubber Legs. Sam sends Foggy to a sickness teacher for herbs to cure him, and the doctor teaches him a dreaded style called Sickness Boxing. Now, armed with this sick form of fighting, Foggy is ready for Drunk Mantis.
Views: Originally sold as Drunken Master 2 in many territories, Dance Of The Drunk Mantis should really be the official sequel to the original hit film. I mean, it continues the story of Sam Seed (Simon Yuen) only a year after his adventures with a young Wong Fei Hung (Jackie Chan), was directed once again by Yuen Woo Ping and produced by Ng See Yuen, and although numerous cast members from the first film return, most of them play different roles than they previously did – which was typical of kung-fu movies from this era. But then of course, Jackie brought out his own sequel in 1994 which quite happily continued the story of the young Wong Fei Hung (with Chan having hardly aged a day over the 16 year gap between productions) and thus created a bit of a dilemma as to what really was the follow-up movie. In a sense, both titles could easily run alongside each other in regards to them continuing the stories of their characters – but if you really needed to settle on one, I guess it all depends on who you regard as the titular drunken master. Is it the character of Sam Seed, the old kung-fu master who loves to drink and teaches the art of drunken boxing? Or is it that of Jackie Chan's character of Wong Fei Hung, the troublesome kid who mastered the drunken style in order to beat one of the toughest fighters around (and someone his master, ultimately, could not defeat)?
It's quite the predicament I guess, and while Dance Of The Drunk Mantis has more consistency in tone, style, and production design than the more modern Golden Harvest sequel does in comparison to the original, it's more likely that Jackie Chan stands strong as the main connection for most people – thus making his version of Drunken Master 2 the official sequel to today's audience..
Set 1 year after the events of the original film, Dance Of The Drunk Mantis follows Sam Seed as he makes his way home to his wife. At the same time, Rubber Legs (Hwang Jang Lee) and his assistant are heading to the same town in search of Sam. He wants to challenge him in a fight for superiority using his Northern style of drunken boxing combined with the deadly mantis style kung-fu, against the old master's Southern style. When Sam returns home, he finds that his wife has adopted an adult son, Foggy, who is happy to see his new dad. Hoping to learn kung-fu, Foggy soon finds that his dad is slightly abusive towards him and soon runs away, finding solace with a new master who teaches Foggy the art of the Sick Fist. After a run-in with Rubber Legs leaves Sam injured, Foggy steps into save his dad and helps him escape. From there, Sam agrees to teach him the style of the Drunken Fist, which when combined with the Sick Fist, will help him to beat Rubber Legs' Drunken Mantis in a deadly showdown!
There's no denying that Dance Of The Drunk Mantis is a highly entertaining and well-made film. And as a Seasonal Production with Ng See Yuen behind it, you would expect nothing else. But it still seems to be missing something that the original Drunken Master had, as well as focusing on the comedy a little more than before. But most noticeably for me, it is the lack of charm of a certain Jackie Chan. It also has a touch of (what I like to call) sequelitis, in that the film-makers have tried too hard to better the first film, which quite often doesn't work in their favour. That said, there's still a lot to love here from the Yuen Clan's intricate choreography to the funny comedy situations, and then there's the incredible Hwang Jang Lee that steals the show for me. I've long been a huge fan of the super-kicker and it was nice to see him having fun with this role, as well as getting to show some amazing kicks and kung-fu. His student is played by the brilliant Corey Yuen Kwai, a man that needs no introduction and another of the Seven Little Fortunes that gained as much of a great start in the industry as his brothers Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung did. Along with co-starring and getting to show some incredible kung-fu – with his opening fight being a highlight on both fighters behalf, and his drunken style against Yuen Shun Yi (Foggy) executed perfectly – Yuen Kwai was a big part of the fight choreography with the Yuen Clan, a relationship that continued over many productions (and had started well before).
While I always enjoy seeing Yuen Shun Yi on-screen, it's safe to say that he's no Jackie Chan. There's no denying that he's got the comedy-timing and martial moves down to a tee, but there is a natural charm to Jackie that many stars just don't have. Regardless, Shun Yi as Foggy is brilliant and allowed him to show some incredible skills as a leading man. Although he had been in the business for over a decade at this point, most of his roles were as an extra or bit-player in an incredible amount of Shaw Brothers productions, gaining bigger roles from about 1977 onwards with his brothers before Dance Of The Drunk Mantis really gave him leading-man status. While his on-screen presence would fade around the turn-of-the-century, Yuen Shun Yi would continue his work behind the camera as a martial-arts-director on films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny, The Banquet, True Legend, Kung Fu Hustle, and the Ip Man movies. Although he had a starred in over 340 movies during the course of his career, Simon Yuen would be forever seen in the eyes of kung-fu fans as the grey haired, scruffy old beggar – a role that would see him typecast in most films for the last few years of his life. That's not to say it was a bad thing, giving the leader and father of the Yuen Clan legendary status in the martial world (of film) and a character that is still copied to this very day.
Popular kung-fu star, Yen Shi Kwan, stars as the Sick Fist master and the man who helps teach Yuen Shun Yi the deadly style. Although a great mover and actor in his own right, Yen's moves are elevated to greatness with the Yuen Clan's choreography that gives him some scene-stealing moments. Of course, Yen would go on to star alongside more of Hong Kong cinema's greatest stars including Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Cynthia Khan, and Michelle Yeoh respectively. The wonderful Linda Lin Ying returns after her role in the original Drunken Master, only this time to play Sam Seed's wife and Foggy's mum. Although her time in the film world spans almost 30 years, Linda has only starred in 7 films altogether – yet has impressed with her flexibility and martial arts every time. Her highlight moment here has to be her showdown fight against Corey Yuen Kwai, in a fantastically worked fight that highlights her skills to the max. And although she is doubled a couple of times for the more acrobatic moves, she still proves to carry the majority of the fight and looks great doing so. The ever wonderful Dean Shek returns in his trademark wacky role, this time as Money Bags the bank manager, and the fantastic Chin Yuet Sang gets an extended cameo as a loan shark who think he can harass the subdued Mrs. Seed...
As mentioned, the choreography for Dance Of The Drunk Mantis is handled by the Yuen Clan. This consisted of director Yuen Woo Ping, star Yuen Shun Yi, brother Brandy Yuen Ja Yeung, and co-stars Corey Yuen Kwai and Chin Yuet Sang, most of who had worked on the original film the year before. Between them, the team take things to the next level with even more intricate moves, speed, and great acrobatics that make every fight of the film exciting to watch. From the opening fight scene with Corey Yuen Kwai to the one-on-one between Sam Seed and Rubber Legs, the team definitely set-out to impress and certainly achieved it. It all leads to an even more impressive final 20 minutes, which sees Foggy reach his peak in training and take on Rubber Legs in the final showdown, is a pretty incredible display of choreography and martial arts from both parties involved. And although many have stated that the doubling of Simon Yuen was distracting to some degree, it's definitely not off-putting by any means. Viewers must remember how old this guy actually was and, in one of his final cinematic roles, still manages to pull-it-off. Producer and writer Ng See Yuen was on a winning streak during this stage of Hong Kong cinema, something that continues to show with Dance Of The Drunk Mantis. While it would have been great to see Jackie Chan return for a sequel this close to the original and at the height of it's popularity, this offering still proves to be highly entertaining and well worth the watch!
Overall: With a little more comedy than before, Dance Of The Drunk Mantis offers a lot of exciting kung-fu action and should not be missed by fans of old-school movies, Yuen Woo Ping, or it's stars!
DVD Extras: Audio Commentary by Rick Baker & Toby Russell, Interviews, Rare Footage of Hwang Jang Lee, Drunken Master Deleted Scene, Trailers, Cast & Crew Notes, Restoration Footage
DANCES WITH DRAGON
(Hong Kong 1991)
Original Title: Yu Long Gong Wu
Directed by Wong Jing Produced by Jimmy Heung, Wong Jing Action by Paul Wong Kwan
Starring: Andy Lau, Sharla Cheung Man, Deannie Yip, Alfred Cheung, Yvonne Yung Hung, Ng Man Tat, Wu Ma, May Lo, Ridley Tsui, Wong Yat Fei
Reviewing: YouTube Release
Genres: Romance / Comedy
Rating - 3.5 / 5
Synopsis: A young, successful Hong Kong businessman drifts onto a rural island, after he is pushed overboard from his boat by an angry girlfriend. Mistaken for an illegal immigrant and keeping his identity secret, he is forced to work and hide in a family run grocery store where he soon falls for the owners daughter.
Views: This early 90s rom-com from Golden Harvest and Wins Movie Productions, proved to be quite the hit upon release with director Wong Jing in top form and a strong cast behind him. That said, it doesn't offer much that we haven't seen before, but still has a charm about it that makes for a fun watch. Andy Lau plays Lung Ka Chun, a wealthy businessman who is into real-estate, driving nice cars, and is hounded by his mum to marry anyone she seemingly introduces. While out on a boat trip with his latest lady-friend, Lung gets pushed overboard by here and left to fend for himself as she takes the boat away. Floating about in the shark invested waters, Lung soon makes his way to the shore of a rural island with a host of illegal immigrants who have swam in from the mainland and soon find themselves on the run from the police. This results in a chase through the streets, with Andy making his escape in some pretty-tight speedos – which was a welcome sight, I must say! Hiding in a nearby home, Lung is soon found and captured by mother and daughter team, Deannie Yip and Sharla Cheung Man, who mistake him for an illegal mainlander. Lung decides to play along for a while so he can escape the rat-race and let those in his life worry for a bit. At the same time, Moon (Cheung) has gotten a job at Lung's business in the city, working with her cousin Charmy (May Lo) and hounded by Lung's assistant Martin. As expected, complications naturally arise as love starts to blossom and truths come to light that test relationships and proving that love conquers all...
While not amazing in any way, Dances With Dragon is an enjoyable rom-com that doesn't suffer from the usual crass humour or too much mo-lei-tau that would normally be seen in a Chow Sing Chi or wackier Wong Jing production. Instead, the humour often comes across in a silly-but-cute kind of way, just ever so slightly dipping its toe into mo-lei-tau territory. That usually comes about when the hilarious and recently departed, Ng Man Tat, appears. Ng plays Andy's right-hand man – his only lifeline to the real world while in hiding, who keeps his boss up-to-date with what's happening at home and often getting himself into some crazy situations to help keep his cover. Sharla Cheung Man gets to offer a more comedic role than usual as the Lantau Island resident who gets a job in the big city with the help of her cousin Charmy, played by May Lo Mei Wei. As per usual, Cheung is always a joy to watch and seems to be having fun here getting in on some hilarious moments, as well as getting to be the Belle of the ball. The always amazing Deannie Yip stars as her mother, a sweet and comical lady who tries her hand at cheating people for a few extra dollars, whether its at mahjong or pretending to heal them with her kung-fu. Actor and director in his own right, Alfred Cheung, plays Martin – assistant to Lau's character in the business and potential brother-in-law to his boss, with his sister Diana (played by Yvonne Yung Hung) currently dating Lung. Wu Ma plays an island cop called Uncle Prawn who has a long-time connection to Ng Man Tat's character of Uncle Fly, and older character actor, Bau Hon Lam from God Of Gamblers, plays Uncle Chow – a pain-in-the-arse businessman who likes to degrade Lung when possible and trick him out of a deal.
With a few other regular faces popping up throughout, such as Paul Chu, Tan Lap man, Ridley Tsui, John Ching, and Wong Yat Fei, Dances With Dragon proves to be an easy watch. Although some of it's jokes may appeal more to a local audience, there's still enough going on to entertain the more unfamiliar audience. While it could have been snipped by 10 or 15 minutes, the charm of it's cast and tidy direction of Wong Jing keep you glued. And from a period when Hong Kong cinema was rife with martial-arts action, triad stories, and gambling thrillers, it must have been a great chance for it's leading man to breathe considering it was only 1 of 14 incredible titles he starred in that year – from Ann Hui's Zodiac Killers to the hilarious Tricky Brains with Chow Sing Chi, and from the incredible Saviour Of The Soul to Wong Kar Wai's highly praised, Days Of Being Wild, it's seems there was no stopping this man. Dances With Dragon proves to be a much more relaxed experience than the majority of those other offerings in 1991, but it still shows what a great comic actor Andy Lau is, along with those that joined him on-screen!
Overall: While it's not incredible by any means, Dances With Dragon is a charming rom-com with a great cast and many funny moments!