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Archive for October 31st, 2012

Big John and Little John are a couple of swindlers who are on a streak of bad luck. When one of their intended victims The Silver Fox beats them up badly, the duo realise they need to sharpen up their kung fu so Little John asks The Silver Fox if he’ll be their Master. Turning down their offer at first, he eventually relents and starts teaching them a new style of kung fu. Things are going well for the duo under their new Master until Little John discovers his tutor killing a man. It seems The Silver Fox is a wanted criminal and has been using the pair for his dirty deeds. The pair try and fight him but he uses a deadly style of Snake kung fu which ends with Big John paying for his life and Little John barely escaping. He winds up staying at the home of a wily beggar who is also skilled in the art of kung fu. Little John asks the beggar to train him up so that he can take on The Silver Fox and avenge his friend’s death.

Knockabout is a classic martial arts comedy movie which has been rated highly by Hong Kong movie fans. It brings together 3 of the biggest names in the late 70’s of HK movie makers in Sammo Hung (who directs and acts in this movie), Ka-Yan Leung and Yuen Biao. Even though Yuen Biao would never get the acclaim that his brothers in the Peking Opera (Sammo and Jackie Chan) obtained, he is still widely appreciated by martial arts fans. This would be his breakout movie role. I actually didn’t think I was going to like this movie as the first 40 or so minutes is just a rather silly story with some routine slapstick comedy which falls flat and so-so martial arts but once The Silver Fox turns on the 2 swindlers and Little John teams up with the beggar the movie improves with the martial arts fights getting better and better. In hindsight this was probably a ploy by Sammo to show that the swindlers had much to learn in their kung fu skills so that is why the earlier fights in the movie are so underwhelming. You just have to see the training scenes that the beggar puts Little John through – Yuen Biao is bloody amazing in these scenes. The guy was a gifted martial artist and was well known for his kicking and acrobatic prowess. Sammo’s beggar character makes him backflip, somersault and do some cartwheeling whilst using a skipping rope and just the training scenes alone makes it worth seeing the movie. It makes you forget the silly comedy that took place earlier on. The training scenes are topped however by the 12 minute final fight that sees Little John and the beggar combining their monkey style kung fu skills and squaring off against The Silver Fox. The moves that Yuen Biao pulls off in the fight are breathtaking. It rounds off what was eventually a very satisfying movie experience.

A big part of why this movie is such a success is down to Sammo Hung and under his direction Yuen Biao is outstanding. The intricate martial arts fight sequences he employs in this movie was a typical trademark of his and they’re a joy to watch.

Fans of old school HK martial arts will love this movie. It’s an entertaining movie you shouldn’t miss out on. Recommended.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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