Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Fearless Hyena

The Action Mutant…
Rasha Naba Doe-ah Gola Wookiee Nipple Pinchy!

The Fearless Hyena

review by Joe Burrows

The Plot, as it was:
Jackie Chan stars as Shing Lung, a mischievous sort who lives with his grandfather (James Tien) in the Chinese mainland. Shing gains a rep hustling fighters out of their wares for a group of thugs, which gains the attention of The Master (Kun Li) and his gang. When The Master kills Shing's grandfather to settle an old grudge, Shing must master fighting techniques from an old man named The Unicorn (Hui Lou Chen) to gain his revenge...Hyena style!

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
If the above sounded any bit familiar to you, you've already seen Drunken Master or any one of hundreds of Kung Fu flicks over the years. Randy pupil, taciturn father figure, evil bastard with equally evil cohorts, drunken teacher, etc. Of course, more than a few of those have involved Jackie Chan in some way and in some way, they seem fresher when he's in control. Coming off the heels of said DM, this was Chan's first directorial effort and he lets it all hang out in this one. The trademark fights (with such implements as work benches, chopsticks and fake'll see), broad humor and childish mugging are all prevalent...even more so with this being his first time in the chair (as well as the awful dubbing; I swore Jackie was dubbed by Stan Laurel when I first heard him). Chan throws everything into the stew and most of it does taste great. There are plenty of ideas that work (the training sequences are just beastly, for example) and some that don't (Jackie's disguises elicit a few chuckles but not out and out hilarity). It's not the controlled frenzy that later Chan efforts would become but its an entertaining curio in in the man's filmography that should be seen by his most fervent fans.

Body Count/Violence: 10. As with most JC favorites, its about the intricacy of the fight as opposed to being death happy. The death takes place by some sword slashing, weapon use and occasionally bloody purple nurpling.

Sexuality/Nudity: Umm...there's that scene where Jackie's in drag but I don't think you're supposed to be turned on by that. Right?

Language/Dialogue: Some mild profanity, including my ever long Kung Fu favorite, "bastard"!

How bad was it?:
Most critics looked at it in a favorable light though it was readily admitted that the film seemed like a slight reworking of Drunken Master more than an original work.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Finally able to helm a film on his own (whilst ending his contract with producer Lo wei), Chan's Fearless Hyena opened in Hong Kong on 2/17/79. It had a three week run at the cinemas and was considered a success in Chan's ever burgeoning career. It had its theatrical run in the West in 1979 and is now on DVD through various video companies. Be careful which transfer you purchase though, as they differ in quality.

Film: ***/*****
Entertainment value: ****/*****

Copyright 2012 The Action Mutant.

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