Jackie Chan stars as the young warrior Hsu Yiu Fong. Hsu has been entrusted with the book of the "Art of the Snake and Crane," after the mysterious disappearance of the eight Shaolin ...
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Jackie Chan stars as the young warrior Hsu Yiu Fong. Hsu has been entrusted with the book of the "Art of the Snake and Crane," after the mysterious disappearance of the eight Shaolin Masters who had written it. He must fight off numerous clans who are all attempting to steal the book from him, to find out the true reason for the disappearance of the Shaolin Masters. Written by
Torkel Mathisen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin is mostly known for being a transitional movie for Jackie. He did not play the grim Bruce Lee archetype that Lo Wei tried to mold in him, but was the start of a comedic and lighter hero for Chan. Snake and Crane was a box office failure in Hong Kong, but it got Jackie recognition in Hong Kong. It also showcased his increased intricate and atypical fight choreography with an increase of humor and props.
There is really much to like in this film. Chen Chi-hwa (Half a Loaf of Kung Fu) did an excellent job of direction with beautiful wide-screen shots of gorgeous scenery and elaborate placement of camera position. I wish he directed more films. Jackie's choreographed fight scenes are also very good. Like many of the martial art films of this time, the plot is the rub. Though I did like the first half of the plot.
The film starts with Jackie displaying his various knowledge of weapons including the spear (I cannot believe they lifted music from Monty Python and the Holy Grail for this scene.) The aerobatic display that Chan does (along with others) is far superior to any martial art action done later in the film.
Jackie stars as Su Yin Fong, a sarcastic and most excellent Kung Fu practitioner who has possession of the book "The Eight Steps of the Snake and Crane." A manual of techniques that was thought, along with the Dragon Spear, to be in the possession of Master Lin. It was created and collaborated by eight masters of Shaolin who mysteriously vanished. Or did they? Being in possession of such a prize and openly flaunting it, Su finds himself the target of many ruffians. He is jumped by the Ting Brothers while fishing. He is attacked by the Wu Tang Clan while eating. Later he is attacked by various members of the Black Dragon Clan, Beggar Clan and the Flying Tiger Clan. His only ally is Fong Sie Pin of the Ere May Clan who killed Lady Suon and her minion after Jackie Chan had already defeated them.
Su is also looking for a shoulder-scarred man. He will not let anything stop him from this goal. This includes advances from Tang Pin Nhur (Nora Miao) and her offering of a treasured golden peacock! Now that is a lot of fortitude (or else he is eunuch.) Nora actually has some decent fight scenes in this film. But the plot winds down with too many obvious turns (like who the shoulder-scarred man is and what happened to the Shaolin monks.)
I do feel like this film is worth watching. In addition to the beautiful photography and the actors I have mentioned there are great characters like Lu Lo Qui (with his cursing match against Su), Hong Tu (Gam Ching Lan) who is a pretty petite female pretending to be a male, and Chien Tse (Kam Kong.) If only the plot was stronger (and possibly Lo Wei had less influence on the story) then this film would be mentioned more often and I could create a more cohesive critique. But for historical purposes it will always have its place as a transitional movie in Jackie Chan's illustrious career.
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