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Knockabout More at IMDbPro »Za jia xiao zi (original title)

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

it doesn't get any better than this

Author: Shanti Green from United States
4 August 2001

After watching this the only comment i could make was that sammo hung actor, director is a damn genius I collect gallios and kung fu films and this is one of the greatest of all time easily in the top five. It starts off kind of silly the great yuen Biao in his (debut role)and the awsome Ka Yan Leung are brothers when lueng is killed by their teacher yuen gets revenge his new teacher is begger sammo they double team the master in a 15 minute duel the moves are so crisp and yuen sammo and Leung as well as the evil master Lau ka Wing are at the top of their game. this easily blows away the overrated shaw brothers films and yuen wo pings films from the same period. but you won't want to stop here,check out the Odd Couple ,The Victim Warriors Two, Blade of Fury and The Magnificent Butcher, you can thank me later.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Keep on watching... it gets a whole lot better towards the end!

Author: BA_Harrison from Hampshire, England
6 October 2006

About half an hour into Knockabout and I was ready to award it a rating of 6; the martial arts were not particularly impressive and the comedy was routine. Half an hour later and I had changed my mind; the action had improved somewhat and the story was picking up. A 7 now seemed like a reasonable score.

By the end of the film, however, I was utterly flabbergasted: Knockabout had improved beyond belief, delivering one of the most impressive finales in a martial arts movie that I have had the pleasure to witness. I now award the movie an 8 and highly recommend it to fans of the genre.

Yuen Baio and Ka-Yan Leung play brothers Yipao and Taipao, lovable rogues who convince a martial arts expert to take them on as students. When Yipao discovers that their teacher is actually a wanted criminal, Silver Fox (Chia Yung Liu), he is attacked by his master. Taipao jumps in to protect his sibling but is killed; Yipao barely escape with his life. Seeking revenge, Yipao enlists the help of a beggar (Sammo Hung) who is a master of monkey-style kung fu, and together they take on Silver Fox in a breath-taking fight to the death.

On reflection, I now realise that the earlier, less impressive fights were deliberately underwhelming in order to show how much the brothers still had to learn. As they gain more experience, the fights get better and better, until the mind-bogglingly acrobatic ending in which Biao performs feats that need to be seen to be believed.

The training scenes with Sammo's beggar involve some of the greatest acrobatics I have ever witnessed and these alone make the film worth watching. A final battle with Hung and Biao combining their monkey kung fu skills against Chia Yung Liu's snake style rounds off a wonderfully satisfying movie experience.

Knockabout is a real treat for all lovers of old-school martial arts movies and especially fans of Yuen Baio and Sammo Hung.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

absolutely brilliant!!! 10 out of 10

Author: scottnow from Dundee, Scotland
27 April 2004

I just love this movie and give it 10 out of 10. Sammo is great and is his usual funny self with great martial arts, but Yuen Baio is AMAZING! I know he is famous for his kicking and acrobatic prowess, but in this film he is absolutely awesome. Some of the training sequences with Sammo where he is back flipping, somersaulting etc whilst using a skipping rope really show his fantastic acrobatic skills and he looks dead cute and sexy as well. His facial expressions are great whether he is being silly or serious and shows that he also a good actor as well as being an amazing martial artist. If you are a Yuen Baio fan, this film is a DEFINITE MUST SEE.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Yuen Biao stars

Author: Shawn McKenna ( from Modesto, California
14 May 2008

Yuen Biao never got the acclaim that his Peking Opera brothers Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan obtained (all part of the Seven Little Fortunes), but for martial art movie fans he is still widely appreciated. His breakout in the Hong Kong film industry was his first starring role in Knockabout in 1979. Of course, it helped that the director was Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, but Yuen's reputation was solid for his years of stunt work, being an extra and doubling actors for dangerous or acrobatic scenes (he would continue to do that after this film). This film is full of under-appreciated martial artists and performers though.

Knockabout is the fourth film directed by Sammo Hung and is one of the many hybrid Kung Fu comedies (Mo Lai Tau style) produced by Golden Harvest that were popular in the late 70's Hong Kong like Drunken Master (1978) and Hung's earlier film Enter the Fat Dragon (1978). While it was not the resounding success that Drunken Master was, it has had a resurgence in popularity the past few years.

Biao stars as Hei Yu (also called Little John in the subtitles) as a congenial con-artist with his brother Big John (Leung Kar-Yan: Warriors Two, The Postman Strikes Back) who have to cheat or steal to stay fed. After a successful scam on a cheating gold exchange cashier (working off the old adage that the best people to con are the ones who think they are conning you), they decide to gamble their profit at the local casino. They are quite unsuccessful at it and get beat up when unbeknownst to them they try to fool a gambling house with fake money. But like the consummate con-men they are, if they fail once, they will look for another mark. The new rube is an elderly man (the not-so-elderly and underrated Lau Kar-Wing who is mostly known for being the brother of Lau Kar-Leung, though he is an excellent martial artist who has appeared in many supporting roles) who is eating at the local teahouse. Their set-up fails miserably and so they set to take revenge on Jia Wu-Dao by ambushing him. Of course, he just happens to be a Kung Fu master. After they get beat up they ask him to be their sifu. He eventually acquiesces, but there seems to be something mysterious and sinister about him.

There are a few problems with the film. Karl Maka's role as the bald inspector reminds me too much of a clone of Dean Shek. The composition of the film is unbalanced. It starts mostly with comedy for the first 50 minutes and then ends heavily with action. I liked both elements, but the cohesion of the two did not quite work as a whole. The plot's biggest weakness is the inevitable turn of Jia Wu-Dao against his pupils. You knew it was going to happen, but it felt forced. And the prolific use of lifting copyrighted material for music continues with the cue for the Fat Beggar lifted from Ennio Morricone's score in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966).

Luckily, there is so much to like with this movie. Biao and Leung work well together as brothers and would continue to work with Hung on later films. The portrayal of Jia Wu-Dao by Lau Kar-Wing is interesting because he is not a one-dimensional character. He cares for his adopted pupils and trains them well in martial arts (every good teacher always hides something from his students though). This makes the character change more shocking, but also makes it feel less real. I enjoyed the comedic touches like the overly flexible Yuen Biao (that is not his leg) and the ordinary men they look to beat up.

However, the best parts of the film are the training and martial art sequences in the last half of the movie. These segments are so strong that you tend to forget the somewhat meandering and mostly comedic nature of the previous scenes. The training involves some of the more masochistic devices to help, and I will not spoil them here. I will state that you get to see Biao show off his abilities with his excellent forms and most awesome somersaulting ability. The fighting scenes include an excellent team match between Seven Dwarfs (Lee Hoi-Sang: bald as usual), Snow White (Wang Kuang-Yu: The Water Margin (1972)) versus Little John and Big John. Also, I think you might enjoy the "finishing move" of Jia Wu-Dao. I am not sure I've seen much use of this professional wrestling move in Hong Kong cinema, but I have seen The Rock use it many times. Also, in the tradition of saving the best for last, you get a 12 minute fight sequence at the end that is sublime in its intestinal fortitude.

Sammo Hung was not only the director and a supporting actor in this film; he is also the action director (fans of the auteur theory should take note). His knowledge and presence help make this one of the underrated classics in martial art cinema. The competition between him and Jackie Chan during this time period helped create more intricate and daring martial art scenes for there movies. With Knockabout there is one of the best martial art movie sequences of the 70s. Knockabout is a must watch for devotees of this genre and should be a good case study for future action directors on how to choreograph. Knockabout also shows you the skill of Yuen Biao and why he should be regarded as one of the best martial art actors of the 1970s/80s.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Yuen Biao is awesome

Author: gridoon
21 September 2005

First things first: the fight scenes in "Knockabout" are plentiful and SUPERB. Some of them are staged like elaborate comic dances - Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton would probably be pleased if they could see some of the gags here. In addition to his great fighting, Yuen Biao performs many admirable acrobatic feats (I doubt that Jackie Chan could ever do some of the stuff that Biao does here), and Sammo Hung moves with incredible agility for a man his size! There is also a lot of comedy in this film, which will not be to everyone's taste, as it involves a lot of mugging and twitching (as well as exaggerated sound effects and animal sounds), but there ARE some genuinely funny moments. The only problem with the film is the plodding pacing: there simply isn't enough story to support 100 minutes of running time. (**1/2)

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

The quintessential kung fu movie!

Author: sarastro7
7 February 2005

"Knockabout" is a prime example of all the virtues of old school kung fu movies. It has cool characters, comedy, seriousness, a classic type of story, and loads and loads of great fighting and training sequences (especially, of course, towards the end). And it has these elements in such gold standard versions that it comprises a superb representation of the classic Hong Kong martial arts movie genre.

"Knockabout" brings together three of that time's top names in the world of kung fu movie-making, Sammo Hung, Ka-Yan Leung and Yuen Biao. Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao went on to do many movies with Jackie Chan, and actually Ka-Yan Leung's comedic role in this movie could well have been played by Jackie Chan. But I guess, at the time (1979), Ka-Yan Leung was a hotter name. This is the first time I've seen Ka-Yan Leung in a comedy role; he's usually very intense and serious, and often even bitter (see "Lightning Kung Fu" and "The Postman Strikes Back"). So this is quite a change. He pulls off the comedy part very well indeed, demonstrating that his acting range isn't limited to one kind of role.

The main reason Ka-Yan Leung's such a hot property, however, is his marvelous kung fu skills. In "Knockabout" he and Yuen Biao are a couple of thieving brothers who're pretty good at kung fu. But when they encounter a guy they can't beat, they beg to become his students. And indeed, he teaches them to become so good that (as he tells them) "ordinary people" are no match for them. So, the happy-go-lucky brothers promptly go out in search of some "ordinary people" to test their new skills against. They find a bunch of extortion racketeers at the local marketplace, who, when asked who they are, claim to be "merely ordinary people" - and then, of course, the fighting breaks out! Very effective comedy.

Sammo Hung plays a beggar/thief who follows the naive brothers, consistently fooling them out of half their loot. When their newfound master turns out to be a bad guy who only trained the brothers in order to fight off his enemies (who were using combinations of styles that no one person could counter, but two could), Sammo's the only one who knows enough kung fu to beat him. And that's leaving out a *lot* of details! This is a very good movie with a good story, but parts of it are not as entertaining as it could be. The seriousness is *too* serious, considering how wacky the movie's comedy dimension is, so it comes off as not being very well balanced.

I rate "Knockabout" an 8 out of 10. It's among the really good ones, although one movie with a similar cast that is even better, is "Prodigal Son" (1982), which I rate a 9. (9 is my top rating for movies without several layers and other exceptional qualities, like aesthetic cinematography, etc. So far, the only kung fu movies I've rated a "10" are "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Hero".)

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Facial tics and furious kicks.

Author: illogik ( from Sydney, Australia
27 July 2003

Its no joke, this movie is INSANE.

Hong Kongs most underated talent Yuen Biao and Hong Kongs greatest talent and my personal favorite Sammo Hung team up for some memorable scenes. The training montage is the best i have ever laid eyes on Yuen does back flips, kip ups, cartwheels, sommersaults and a plethora of other superhuman feats.... WHILE SKIPPING! Another act that had my jaw on the floor was Yuen Biao doing strait legged backwards tumbles with sharpend bamboo splints strapped to the back of his legs. Must be seen to be belived.

10/10 An often overlooked classic.

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Outdoes Drunken Master in terms of enthralling action and intense training

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
13 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a superlative, period-set kung fu comedy along the lines of DRUNKEN MASTER – except it's actually better! Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao are in their physical prime and as an added bonus Sammo sets a high standard with some fine directing. Essentially, this is a film of two halves, with the first half along the typical lines of a kung fu comedy – lots of gurning, slapstick, and silly double/triple cross situations, plus over the top characters (the emphasis is very much on the effeminate) and some action here and there. Biao and Leung Kar-Yan both prove to be adept in their roles, particularly Kar-Yan as the sympathetic kung fu student.

The second half of the film changes track into revenge-thriller territory, although there's still time for some comic horseplay as Sammo and Yuen grapple over a chicken. Biao takes part in some truly gruelling training sequences which even top those performed by Jackie Chan in DRUNKEN MASTER, and then it's time for the flawless extended ending, which sees Sammo and Yuen tag-teaming the truly evil kung fu master, Lau Kar-Wing, who seems almost immortal. This fight is furious, fast-paced and brutal, often managing to be hilarious in equal measure as Sammo and Yuen master monkey kung-fu and end up hanging from the ceiling as they battle their opponent.

The fight scenes are superbly staged and both Sammo and Yuen put in great performances – Sammo as the twitchy beggar and Yuen as the arrogant, headstrong fighter. The supporting cast is very good, including PROJECT A villain Lee Hoi Sang whose bald head takes a vicious bumping and an unrecognisable turn from Lam Ching Ying. Kar-Wing's villain is one you love to hate and as a whole the film gels together very well, funny during the comedy and exciting during the fighting. Another classic from Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, the best cinematic pairing of all time.

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Knockabout no knockoff...

Author: poe426 from USA
3 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

KNOCKABOUT follows the contretempts of a pair of brothers, Yipao (Yuen Biao) and Taipao (Ka-yang Leung), as they seek to eke out a living swindling anyone and everyone they can. Shadowing them throughout is a beggar (Sammo Hung) who's also a sneak-thief and who has a pet monkey. The interplay throughout is beautifully handled as the three drifter grifters butt heads (funny especially early on because Biao and Leung aren't even AWARE that Sammo is picking their pockets). Yet again we have some absolutely brilliant fight choreography by Sammo (you can get winded just WATCHING these guys!), and there are the kind of off-the-wall characters we've come to expect from a Sammo movie throughout- the funniest (so to speak) being a pair of EFFEME fatales (two guys) who kick up a fuss at one point. Both Sammo and Biao showcase their outstanding skills in scene after scene. The one and only problem I had with this one was an unfortunate tendency for the subtitles to disappear altogether for periods of time (when they weren't being poorly synched to the action). In all honesty, the action was still easy to follow, but the problem was annoying. Still, a solid ten.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Monkey on your back...

Author: Guardia from Brisbane, Australia.
1 November 2006

A Kung Fu/comedy film about two brothers who are trying to get ahead in life using various scams and tricks on the public. This is one of the best films that demonstrate Yuen Biao's amazing acrobatic ability, not to mention his fundamental Kung Fu techniques.

As like many other Sammo Hung films, there is an attempt to blend comedy, Kung Fu action, and drama. Most of the time it works, but there are certain scenes that sort of fall flat due to the utter reliance of on poor slapstick. Ka-Yan Leung's reactions are not as effective as they could of been, and even some of Yuen Biao's are a little hard to take.

But apart from that minor problem, this film is awesome at everything else it attempts. Sammo's appearance is very satisfying and entertaining, as he plays a kind of beggar/master for Yuen Biao's character - the closest he's ever come to playing the notorious So Hai character I would guess. And the fighting increases in interest and technique as the film progresses flawlessly.

Sammo really is/was a true ground-breaking director, and Yuen Biao under his direction is outstanding. This film is somewhere between "Iron-fisted Monk", and "The Young Master", in terms of it's Kung Fu and dramatic content.

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