LACKEY AND THE LADY TIGER
(Hong Kong 1980)
Original Title: She Mao He Hun Xing Quan
(aka) Fearless Kid & The Lady Tiger
Directed by Norman Law, Siao Lung Produced by Ng See Yuen Action by Chan Siu Pang, To Wai Wo
Starring: Mars, Hwang Jang Lee, Tien Niu, Linda Lin, Shek Kin, Fung Ging Man, Chiu Chi Ling, To Siu Ming, Chiang Kam, Charlie Chan, Cham Siu Hung
Reviewing: Amazon Prime UK Release
Genres: Traditional Kung Fu / Comedy / Drama
Rating - 4 / 5
Synopsis: Jackie Chan's stunt man, Mars portrays a sprightly kung fu kid who has a running feud with a young girl who's disguised as a boy (Tien Niu). Her dad is Shek Kin, who teaches Mars his Dragon pole so he can get back at the local bullies. Enter hwang Jang Lee, as a convict out to avenge those who had him imprisoned, it so happens that the sister of Shek Kin is that person.
Views: Big-time producer Ng See Yuen, gives Norman Law Man the chance to impress with his directorial debut, Lackey And The Lady Tiger. Having spent a few years alongside Yuen Woo Ping as an assistant director on films such as The Secret Rivals 2, Drunken Master, and Dance Of The Drunk Mantis, Law shifts to the next level as writer and director of this otherwise, rehash of Seasonal Film's smash hit movie Snake In The Eagle's Shadow...
Exchanging Jackie Chan for his best friend and long time stunt man, Mars, the film tells the tale of a troublesome young man who gets bullied by workmates and strangers. After getting harassed by some local thugs over a stolen dog, Mars soon finds himself saved by a young kung-fu-fighter (Alan) who he had met earlier in a friendly fight. Alan offers to teach Mars martial arts, resulting in some hilarious training sequences and antics that soon result in Mars finally learning to stand-up for himself, but still not enough to stop the bullies. Elsewhere, convicted criminal Sek Ba (Hwang Jang Lee) is set for release from prison. He is visited by his sister (Linda Lin) who tries to convince him to follow her back to their teacher, but Sek refuses and claims to have unfinished business. While searching for his new friend, Mars comes across an old fisherman (Shek Kin) who claims to have been taught by the same teacher. He soon reveals that he is, in fact, the grandfather of Alan and offers to teach Mars the secrets of the Dragon Pole technique to help him become a better fighter.
Around the one hour mark, Sek Ba is released from prison and soon finds himself toe-to-toe with his sister, who only wants him to return with her. After a brief but highly impressive fight, Linda Lin is defeated and soon finds Mars running to her rescue. Instantly going up against the mighty Hwang Jang Lee, Mars soon finds he is no match for the super-kicker and soon ends up next to Sek's sister. After helping her home, the flexible Ms. Lin gives Mars some tips in how to defeat her brother – one of which is learning how to fight like a cat, something he immediately starts to figure out by repeatedly launching a poor cat into the air in order to learn how it lands on all-fours. Copying the felines moves, Mars soon trains himself to become a skilled fighter by blending his cat style with the Dragon Pole technique, as well as the snake fist he learned previous. He soon puts this to the test when a local kung-fu master offers to challenge him and is quickly taught a lesson after a highly entertaining pole fight. During a friendly battle between teacher and student, Mars soon finds out the truth about Alan when he grabs his chest only to find out that his friend is really a girl – and granddaughter of the old fisherman. Sek Ba soon finds his way to the pole masters house and launches an attack on him to take revenge for his imprisonment 10 years earlier. Just before Sek Ba delivers his final blow, Mars arrives to save his master and kicks-off a highly impressive end battle that pits him against Hwang Jang Lee's furious kicks and pole techniques. With granddaughter Helen soon joining the battle, the fight action ramps-up a notch offering a few moves that pay homage to Jackie and Hwang's final battle in Snake In The Eagles Shadow, yet still proving to be a highly enjoyable closure to the story in its own right!
Lackey And The Lady Tiger could easily have starred Jackie Chan and made for a wonderful trilogy of Seasonal Film productions in his filmography, but instead, we get a regular face of countless Hong Kong films and a favourite of any true Hong Kong movie fan – Mars, who most certainly does not disappoint in his role as the charming lackey who gets sick of being the human punchbag. While it really is a movie plot we've seen a thousand times over, Norman Law still manages to bring something exciting to his debut backed by a fantastic cast of Seasonal regulars, and some incredible choreography by veteran Chan Siu Pang. Having starred in over 100 titles during his career, with roles in Election 1 & 2, and Shaolin Vs. Evil Dead: Ultimate Power before his death in 2005, Chan was also the director and choreographer of many great films such as Shaolin Death Squads, Rivals Of The Silver Fox, 18 Bronzemen, Fatal Flying Guillotines, and The Old Master which starred Jackie and Sammo's real-life opera teacher, Yu Jim Yuen. For this project, Chan was joined by To Wai Wo, an actor of many titles including One-Armed Boxer, The Secret Rivals, Hand Of Death, Fighting Fool, and modern hits such as A Better Tomorrow, Magic Crystal, Seven Warriors, Once Upon A Time In China, and Angels Project with Moon Lee – which would be his last project. To Wai Wo would also serve as the action choreographer on kung fu classics such as Fist Of Shaolin, Snake & Crane Arts Of Shaolin, and Chan Siu Pang's Choi Lee Fat Kung Fu. Between them, both manage to deliver a host of exciting fight scenes that, dare I say it, sometimes prove to be just as exciting as the projects that inspired them. While mostly known for his work behind the screen or that as a stunt man, Mars proves to be a highly skilled kung-fu fighter in what is possibly his greatest ever role as a leading man and pulls off some incredible moves – both in hand-to-hand and with weapons. While there are plenty of impressive shapes being used, the speed, impact, and lengthy moves are all worth talking about.
Supporting cast members Tien Niu, Shek Kin, Hwang Jang Lee, Linda Lin Ying, and the burly Chiang Kam, all get in on the action with some fantastic fight scenes that never disappoint – as do a number of other regular faces. In fact, this is one more film from Seasonal that I'd love to see get a restored blu-ray release in the near future. While it may not be fresh in a lot of ways, Lackey And The Lady Tiger still wins with the charm of its leading man, great supporting cast, and wonderful choreography and it was great to see Norman Law Man go on to deliver more great titles over the course of his career with A Hearty Response starring Chow Yun Fat, Walk On Fire with Andy Lau, (Ninja) Vampire Buster with Jacky Cheung, and Family Honour with Wilson Lam and Joey Wong. All in all, it's as exciting and fun as the titles that inspired it and possibly one of the better ones that came from the hundreds of imitations, just before the traditional kung-fu movie scene came to a close...
Overall: A lot of fun with great fight choreography and fantastic cast, Lackey And The Lady Tiger is well worth the watch!