Friday, 4 November 2011

The Young Master (1980)

I’ve never been a huge fan of martial arts movies but I have slowly developed quite a love for the movies of Shaw Brothers Studio. I’m less familiar with the output of the major producer of Hong Kong action movies, Golden Harvest. After seeing The Young Master I’m inclined to think I might stick to Shaw Brothers productions in future.

This was Jackie Chan’s triumphant return to Golden Harvest and he wrote and directed the movie as well as starring in it.

I must confess that I have only the haziest notion of what the plot as all about. Two orphans, Tiger and Dragon, had been taken in and raised by the master of a kung fu school. Tiger betrayed his master by helping a rival school to win the lion dance competition, and was banished in disgrace. His master later relented and sent Dragon (Jackie Chan) to fetch him back.

Somehow the plot then gets involved with bank robbers and with Dragon being mistaken for an escaped criminal. The action sequences are non-stop and there’s little time for coherent plot development, but then coherent plot development is probably not what the audience for this film was going to paying their money to see.

It’s mostly played for comedy and the comedy is very broad and relies a good deal on slapstick. It’s a style of comedy that has never done much for me and as a result I found this movie to be pretty heavy going. Of course if you enjoy this type of humour your reaction to the movie is probably going to be quite different. It’s just a matter of personal taste.

The fight scenes are frenetic and spectacular enough but they lack the elegance of the fight scenes in Shaw Brothers movies. Again it’s a matter of personal taste.

The acting is as broad as the comedy. Jackie Chan is likeable enough.

I don’t want to put people off because really my fairly negative response to this film is mostly due to the fact that this sort of movie is just not my cup of tea.

1 comment:

venoms5 said...

I'm no fan of Golden Harvest films as their style is diametrically opposed to that of the Shaw's style. The Shaw's films were generally more mannered, very serious and often spectacularly gory. They had a special look about them such as in the set design and various colors used.

Golden Harvest rarely did overly violent movies as there's were predominantly of the comical variety. Unfortunately for Shaw's, kung fu comedy had become all the rage in 1978. It was like a breath of fresh air to the HK audience and they flocked to it.

I do like some of their movies, but I can take them or leave them. What's funny is that when Shaw's tried to do copy the comedy style that became a big moneymaker through the independent studio Seasonal Films, it was if they were lost in a fog or something. They didn't know where to go or what to do.

YOUNG MASTER has a helluva final fight in it and it's one of the few JC films I do enjoy and can revisit on occasion. It should be noted, too, that there's multiple versions out there with different soundtracks. I've seen at least two which I assume is possibly for copyright reasons.