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A couple unite - she is fluent in the crane style of kung fu, he in tiger style. They have a son, but the boy's father is killed by the evil eunuch Bai Mei. Disguised as a girl, his mom trains him in crane style while he secretly learns tiger style from his father's training manual. Written by
Enjoyable mix of comedy, romance, revenge and action
The film opens with Pai Mei using his retracting groin skills (no seriously) to defeat a Shaolin master Zhishan, scattering his students. Pai Mei sends his Governor Kao Tsinchung and his soldiers after the students and, while leader Tung Chinchin makes a heroic stand, Hung Hsikuan leads the rest to safety, vowing to return and avenge his master and Tung. Hiding out as a traveling opera company, Hsikuan is leading the students as a master of tiger style when he meets performer Ying Chun, a master of the crane style. The two fall in love and will eventually have a child called Wending, although as the decades pass and Hsikuan trains, both he and Chun know that he must return to face the white wispy haired danger of Pai Mei.
Just like the martial arts which Wending will grow up developing, this film is a real mix of things that don't always seem like they should work but generally do. The plot is straightforward "avenge your master" stuff but it is spread over decades and involve several confrontations to good effect. The central villain should be comically silly with his ability to essentially lift his genitals back into his body, but aside from it looking a bit silly, it doesn't affect the tone of the film. At the same time we also have the romance between Hsikuan and Chun, and lots of comic moments as well as moments of death or loss. All told it is a total mix and it could have been that none of it worked but actually it gels very well and at only 90 minutes doesn't feel too long or that it crams things in.
The comedy is genuinely cheerful and funny while the romance between the two leads actually works and is quite sweet. The fight sequences are frequent and impressive, with a brutal tone to much of the film which keeps you interested. Chen Kuantai is very good in the lead a likable type even if he doesn't age particularly convincingly. Li Lily works very well with him I liked her as I have in other things and the two have a good chemistry. Gordon Liu is a nice find (I get the reference now) and makes a good villain despite the slightly daft special power he has. Chiang Tao is a decent presence but I particularly liked Wong Yue as the oldest version of Wending he was fun and fitted well into the family of the leads. The sets and direction are roundly good and the film has an enjoyable pace to it which is consistent no matter what is happening.
With such a mix of content, it is impressive that it all gels so well and in the end, Hong Xi Guan is a very enjoyable film with lots to enjoy.
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