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Dian zhi gong fu gan chian chan (1980)

 -  Action | Comedy  -  1985 (USA)
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 1,139 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 8 critic

A young man poses as "the Whip King" and collects the reward for a bandit he has seen killed by a famous bounty hunter. He must now learn Kung Fu if he is to live up to this new persona and conquer the enemies he has inherited.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Jiang (as Jacky Chan)
Chung-Erh Lung ...
Fong
Jeong-Nam Kim
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chih-Ping Chiang
Kang Chin ...
Thousand-Faces (as Kong Kam)
Kang Ho
Ti Hsieh
Hang Hsu
Han Chang Hu
Chiang Kao
Sae Ok Kim
Chi-Lun Li
Hai Lung Li
Min-Lang Li
Wen Tai Li ...
Beggar
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Storyline

Mostly a Kung-fu showcase; a loose script describes Jackie Chan's character learning Kung-fu from a beggar-master and his pupil while guarding a caravan from bandits. Chan's early comedic beginnings are shown here. Written by <jasona@sco.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Half a Loaf of Kung Fu  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(VHS)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Jiang: If I'm lying, then I'm a son of a bitch.
See more »

Connections

Spoofs Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The TRUE start of Jackie Chan's career
9 October 2010 | by (Florida, US) – See all my reviews

Jackie had moved from the Peking opera to the film industry as a teen, but had done mostly bit parts, eventually gaining respect behind the scenes for his commitment to stuntwork and willingness to do anything in any film. However, Hong Kong directors were still trying to figure out what Bruce Lee had done, and he was suddenly gone... they tried to find a replacement for him and copy his films, but the magnetism and quality wasn't there, leaving the HK film industry churning out a lot of mostly forgettable schlock in the 70s.

Jackie was coming up in this time, and a lot of his earlier roles attempt to cast him in the part of the upstart hero. Audiences at the time didn't go for him however (he was well-known then for NOT being handsome) and directors tried casting him as a stock villain, which didn't really work either.

Finally, uber-director/producer Lo Wei let Jackie start having more creative control, finally resulting in Jackie acting as the 'action director' or 'martial arts director'. You see a bit of this in the film "Shaolin Wooden Men", but it starts really blooming here with "Half a Loaf of Kung Fu". In this film, you see a huge emphasis on comedy over action, and very avante' garde choreography for the fights. This is also a departure in tone from many of Jackie's previous films which centered on oppression and hardship and featured quite graphic violence, death, and rape. Here, the comedy is almost nonstop, with Chan continuing to fight a man even as he's just hanging impaled on a spear....which everyone soon realizes and all have a good laugh about.

The story bears a lot of similarities to several of Jackie's partnerships with Chi-Hwa Chen, like "Shaolin Wooden Men", and "36 Crazy Fists". The 'hero' is actually a bumbling fool, who nevertheless manages to improve his kung-fu to heroic levels in a very short period of time. Of course, the traditional kung-fu masters are actually not the best, the fool learns all the best techniques from old drunken hermits who taunt him as they berate and steal from him, much as Yoda later would to Luke. These same off-the-wall techniques are, of course, the secret to finally defeating the evil gangsters who are rampaging in the town/village/countryside. These films also all have a great number of random story elements and lightning-quick plot twists. Characters are introduced out of nowhere, form alliances, double-cross each other, patch things up, or ultimately die suddenly, all before you can figure out why they were in the film in the first place! If you're looking for Shakespeare, you won't find it here, but the story of this movie actually took me back to being 6 years old and just being amazed at the freshness and unpredictability of these films compared to your cookie-cutter Hollywood movie. There's a definite charm here.

The comedy, on the other hand, fell pretty flat for me. It doesn't quite work as a satire of the films at the time, and it's not as fine-tuned as the comedy in his later films.I chuckled a couple times, but mostly it was a lot of over-the-top cheesy slapstick that I don't think would appeal to most people that aren't an Asian audience in the 70s.

The martial arts is a bit of a mixed bag. The regular performers aren't doing anything very special here, and this is definitely an ensemble film. Even Jackie takes quite a while to warm up, as the whole point in the beginning is that his skills suck. The sequences toward the end of the film start becoming more and more inventive, though, and it's a kick to see Jackie 'learning' wacky techniques and then trying to apply them at every chance in future fights. The final fight is a worthy addition to the Chan 'notable fights' reel, with him attempting to study scrolls of techniques littering the ground WHILE fighting, so that he can then use those techniques IN the fight! It's good stuff, and exemplary of why this movie is the first real step into the Jackie Chan films we all later came to know and love.


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