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YOUNG PEOPLE Kung fu stars go to college
Brian Camp from Bronx, NY
2 July 2008
YOUNG PEOPLE (1972) is easily the most unusual film I've yet seen from
either Chang Cheh or the Shaw Bros. studio. It features three of the
studio's top kung fu stars, David Chiang, Ti Lung and Chen Kuan Tai
(who would all team up again with Chang Cheh the following year for the
swordplay classic, BLOOD BROTHERS), yet it's set at a contemporary Hong
Kong college campus and details the activities of a large group of
students as they prepare for a set of competitions and 10th Anniversary
festivals. One group, led by David Chiang, prepares some musical
entertainment. One group, led by Ti Lung, plays basketball. And the
third group, led by Chen Kuan Tai, practices kung fu. In the midst of
it all, the three stars decide to participate in a go-kart race.
There isn't much in the way of plot. The basketball game takes up 20
minutes of the first 45 minutes. The go-kart race takes up 20 minutes
of the last half-hour. At least there's kung fu in the middle portion.
Chen Kuan Tai has a few good scenes of fighting competition, including
a grueling bout with Wang Ching, a regular villain and frequent
opponent of Chen in the studio's actual kung fu films.
I was actually most interested in the musical numbers. David Chiang
plays the drums throughout the opening credits and leads a drum
ensemble in the final number. In between, there are three songs
performed in English by a teenage singer named Agnes Chan, billed as
Agnes Chen Mei-ling. First is a cover of Joni Mitchell's "The Circle
Game" and later she does Carole King's "You've Got a Friend." Both
songs are sung in their entirety. At the closing festival, she sings a
song that was unfamiliar to me, but sounded similar, a little TOO
similar perhaps, to the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song, "What the World
Needs Now is Love."
Agnes's actual older sister, Irene Chen I Ling, plays the leading flirt
on campus, Princess, who throws herself at whatever guy has won the
latest event. She's initially Chen Kuan Tai's girl, but moves over to
Ti Lung after he wins the basketball game. She then goes back to Chen
after he wins the kung fu championship. Finally, she tries to move in
on David after he wins the go-kart race, but she's in for a rude shock
there. Aside from her fickle behavior, though, she's actually quite
charming. Her back-and-forth with the guys is pretty much the only
thing in the film that might get classified as plot.
The basketball team consists of other regular kung fu players at the
studio, including Wang Chung, Billy Tang, Wong Kwong Yue, and muscular
Yang Sze (aka "Bolo" Yeung, best known for his fight with Bruce Lee in
ENTER THE DRAGON). Shaw Bros. regular Wu Ma is one of the musicians who
works with David.
Agnes Chan turns out to have been a popular recording star in Hong Kong
and Japan in the 1970s. The version we hear of "The Circle Game" was
actually a hit recording she made before the film was produced. She
also turns up the following year in another Chang Cheh youth drama, the
counterculture romance, GENERATION GAP, also reviewed on this site, in
which she sings a bunch of different songs, all in English as well. At
least that one had a plot.
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