Review: THE YOUNG MASTER 師弟出馬 (1980) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Review: THE YOUNG MASTER 師弟出馬 (1980)

Review: THE YOUNG MASTER 師弟出馬 (1980)

THE YOUNG MASTER centres on a young and naive martial art student Lung (Jackie Chan), who along with his brother Lo (Wai Pak), are both orphans live in a martial art school owned by their strict Master Tien (Tin Fung). When Lo fakes an injury and secretly performing a lion dance competition for the rival school, Lung discovers about it but keeps it as a secret anyway. However, Master Tien eventually finds out the truth behind his humiliating loss of the lion dance and expels Lo out of his school. Lung is very upset over the matter and vows to his master that he will bring Lo back to school, all by himself. In the meantime, Lo is trying to make a living at the rival school in which he agrees to join in a daring jailbreak to free a high-kicking maniacal master Kam (Whang In-Sik). And that's where the complication starts: Lung later finds himself being mistaken as Lo for owning the similar big white fan and subsequently forced to battle with the local authorities during his quest. If that's not troublesome enough, Lung also stumbles across Marshal Sam Kung (Shih Kien), his cocky son (Yuen Biao) and his beautiful but deadly daughter (Lily Li Li-Li) in a series of comical misunderstandings.

REVIEW: Jackie Chan's first movie for Golden Harvest studio and one of his best from the pre-POLICE STORY (1985) era, THE YOUNG MASTER also marked the beginning in what would become an essential "Jackie Chan" movie formula: a dose of slapstick humour crosses with high-energy and acrobatic stuntwork that forever characterised his subsequent movies.

Thanks to the rescue of Golden Harvest head honchos Raymond Chow and Jimmy Wang Yu, the then-young Jackie Chan was finally released from all contractual obligations he previously tied with producer and director Lo Wei. Here, Chan was given creative freedom to do whatever he desired in his newfound home that would eventually turned Golden Harvest into one of the most profitable Hong Kong studios of all time.

In Chan's writing and directing debut, he clearly shows a lot of enthusiasm and energy into this movie. Even though his screenplay is nothing more than a typical, old-school norms of a kung fu genre, there's no denying that THE YOUNG MASTER remains one of the prime examples for among the liveliest and most creative movies during the early era of his growing career. Unlike anything he has ever done before, Chan weaves out slapstick humour and kung fu action so elaborately staged with a number of memorable scenes that are a must-see for every fans and viewers alike. Among them are the exciting fan battle (which actually took an incredibly 329 takes to perfect and complete the whole move) with the fat and clumsy Bull (Fan Mei-Sheng); the acrobatic bench duel with the highly-talented Yuen Biao; and a playful sword duel with Shih Kien. And it gets better -- the final 30 minutes is a nonstop acrobatic martial art showdown that begins with Chan disguised as a beggar battling with two of Kam's men before defeating them by donning a makeshift dress to execute his unique skirt-style kung fu technique. Finally, there's the extended fight-to-the-death duel between Chan and Whang In-Sik., which is nothing short of spectacular.

All the cast are top-notch, with Chan perfectly typecast as a lovable loser while his comic interludes with Shih Kien's Marshal Sam Kung is no doubt among his funniest slapstick moments ever seen in his career. THE YOUNG MASTER proves to be so popular that it broke all-time HK box office records up to that time and nevertheless set the high standard for future kungfu movie.

THE YOUNG MASTER is an entertaining old-school kung fu actioner that ushered a then-new era of Jackie Chan's essential movie formula: acrobatic stuntwork and slapstick humour.

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