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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fearless Young Boxer (1979) review


Peter Chang (Shao Lung) Casanova Wong (Wo Pa Fong), Chai Kai (Liu Yin Hai), Hwa Ling (Shao Ling), Wong Yung Shang (The Magistrate), Lung Fei (Tin Tin Yan), Li Kun (Shi Man Chun/Superman), So Fung (Stumpy)

Directed by Siu Fung

The short version: This run of the mill Jacky Chan clone is bolstered by a dynamically choreographed finale. Lots of comedy leading up to the conclusion as per the typical kung fu movie around this time. Several other notable faces are here such as Chai Kai and Lung Fei in a cameo at the beginning. Paul Chang makes an unmemorable lead, but definitely has some serious moves. If nothing else, it's well worth checking out for the last fight alone.

Tin Tin Yan gets into a fight to the death with Wa Pa Fong over a golden talisman, the symbol of a gang. Not wanting to be a criminal, Tin quit the gang, but was pursued by its members for breaking away from the group. Wo Pa Fong is hired to kill him, but he gives the medal to his son, Shao Lung. Shao later loses the medal and must get it back, but Fong and his employer, known as 'The Magistrate' are searching for the medal as well.

You look like a gentleman and a scholar...but you're a killer!

The lead here, Peter Chang, was mainly featured as a background player and as far as I know, this was his sole lead role. Chang has some excellent moves and acrobatics, but he isn't possessing of leading man looks. He was an action director and fighter in SHAOLIN IRON CLAWS (1978). He plays the Jacky Chan role from SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW (1978), a movie responsible for thousands of mindless fight flicks of varying quality.

This one is standard fight fare. Very similar to the dozens of others flooding theaters around the world at the time. Containing very little substance, the plot is almost non existent dealing with Wo Pa Fong, a hired assassin by another villain called 'the Magistrate' searching for a medal belonging to a gang of criminals. A similar storyline was told in a far better movie entitled SHAOLIN VS. LAMA (1983). It also had excellent choreography, but the bits in between were of interest as well.

The fight scenes in FEARLESS YOUNG BOXER are the main point of interest and are the only thing holding this barely average movie together. Kung fu fans will enjoy that much, at least. The comedy is painful as usual, although a couple of the gags are mildly amusing. The ones involving Li Kun as the stereotypical horny, rich bastard are the funniest bits even if the comedy often take up a lot of screen time (such as one dealing with a man to be married to a seriously ugly woman).

As opposed to most of the indy flicks, the plot finally kicks in around the 40 minute mark. There's really not a lot of plot surrounding the search and recovery of a medal, and no doubt this was another 'make it up as we go along' movies. There were a number of other 'search for a missing medal' movies one of the best being the Shaw Brothers indy imitation, MONKEY KUNG FU (1979).

Casanova Wong shows off some awesome kicks right from the start during his brief fight with fan favorite, Lung Fei (FOUR REAL FRIENDS, MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE, SHAOLIN AVENGERS). He fights a couple more times and the finale is a stunner taking place inside a storeroom. This fight is reminiscent of the exhaustive end battle during Chang Cheh's lesser venom outing, THE DAREDEVILS (1979). Choreographer, Huang Kuo Chu comes up with some creative ways to utilize the set to accentuate the big fight finale. Needless to say, the end battle of FEARLESS YOUNG BOXER makes it worth the wait.

The dubbing is hilarious especially the guy dubbing Casanova Wong's character. At times, it's as if he's having trouble reading his lines. The indies usually "suffer" from the worst dub jobs and many would say that is part of their charm. For the more excruciating pictures, I am inclined to agree. FEARLESS YOUNG BOXER isn't terrible, but it isn't all that great, either. The fights are really good and that will be the deciding factor for fu fans who are curious to see the movie.

While being a standard Jacky Chan clone, it certainly is far from either the best or worst, FEARLESS YOUNG BOXER (1979) has nothing to recommend it but it's fight choreography. For a great many fans, that's reason enough to check it out.

This DVD can be purchased here-- FAR EAST FLIX

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