Dreadnaught (1981) Poster


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A wonderful assault on the senses
Leofwine_draca1 October 2021
Warning: Spoilers
Another brilliant film from a classic era full of them. Yuen Biao stars in his second lead role after KNOCKABOUT and does us proud, playing a young laundry washer who gets caught up in a plot involving the legendary Wong Fei Hung and a psychotic killer called White Tiger. An all-star cast feature in this one, from great comedy guys (Fan Mei Sheng, hi) to the peerless Phillip Ko and Beardy. The plot features near constant gags, stunts and wonderful fight sequences coordinated by the Yuen brothers. Easily as good as the kind of kinetic, brute-force-energy films that Jackie was making during the era, and it really deserves to be better known. The ending is pure class and had the tears streaming from my eyes!
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Kung fu horror with some great scenes
jadavix31 August 2019
"Dreadnaught" has an unforgettable scene featuring four men in two different lion costumes. The costume that appears first climbs up a makeshift bridge made of benches in a feat of extraordinary balance and coordination. They are surprised by the other lion costume, and a fight ensues. It is mind boggling imagining how long it must have taken to get this right.

The movie also has another really unique fight scene, where the actually terrifying bad guy wears an even more unique costume - a head with two faces, and fights in a dimly lit, frightening scene.

You see, "Dreadnaught" is a rarity - a kung fu horror flick. The bad guy paints his face and murders people. He is a serial killer. It is up to our man Yuen Biao to stop him, but first he has to get over his cowardice.

Unfortunately, much of the movie is quite typical for a kung fu flick from the '80s, with slapstick and silly characters. But some of those scenes, and the bad guy, are so good, I wish they'd managed the same tone throughout.
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gorytus-2067231 July 2021
Aug 21

Yep Dreadnaught is a fantastic martial arts comedy action film, it stars Yuen Biao and Leung Kar Yan.

Some amazing stuff here especially from Yuen Clan actor Yuen Shun Yee as the villain of the piece, Yuen Cheung Yan is also in the film along with plenty of regulars.

I love this film, it is extremely rare and expensive to buy, but its worth it, trust me.

Apparently the Steven Seagal film Under Siege was going to be called Dreadnaught but they had to switch titles due to this film.

9.5 out of 10.
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A Mouse Versus A Tiger.
Guardia15 March 2008
Dreadnaught features Yuen Woo Ping's extreme talent for choreography and action direction. Fan's of any of his other work will no doubt be very pleased to sit through this oddly titled film. Also, fans of Yuen Biao (that's me), will also be very happy to pick this one up, (although, like "Circus Kids" his role in the film could be argued as criminally underused).

Again, set in Ming Dynasty China, this film sees the plight of Mousy (Biao), who happens to be a very shy, in-confident, and even cowardly laundry worker. His nature is revealed when we witness him trying to collect laundry debts from various townspeople - they push him around and give him nothing.

All the while, an evil and eccentric killer "White Tiger" takes pleasure in terrorising anyone who happens to be around, and, unfortunately for Mousy, he seems to be high on Tiger's list. But, again, like most Kung Fu films, it's not so much what is done, but rather how they do it. Thankfully, Dreadnaught does well in it's direction and choreography, but it does not excel.

Credits list Biao as the star, but I believe Leung Ka-Yan (who is Mousy's older brother in the film) deserves equal billing - they certainly have equal screen-time. "Foon", played by Ka-Yan, is a more well-rounded martial artist, and a student of the legendary Wong Fei Hung (played brilliantly and hilariously by Kwan Tak-Hing a la "Magnificent Butcher). The scene involving a rather violent tailor is worth the sitting alone.

Dreadnaught seems more of an unfocused film as compared to Woo Ping's other work(s). "Drunken Master" for example had a clear, snappy and balanced screenplay. We knew where we were supposed to be at in terms of all the plot elements. Dreadnaught fails on these grounds, and it's action sequences do not mesh pleasurably with the dialog as they do in Drunken Master.

I was expecting a "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow" for Yuen Biao, but rather, I see this film as three main action sequences starring various cast, tied together with the broad characterisation of Mr. White Tiger. It is by far one of the better Kung Fu films out there, but I'm afraid Yuen Woo Ping's other works do the same thing but better.
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Almost Forgotten Kung Fu Horror Film
bs3dc23 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Dreadnaught is largely unknown these days compared to 1979's 'Magnificent Butcher" (Lin Shi Rong) despite the fact that they have a great deal in common from the director Yuen Woo-ping and writer Wong Jing, to some of the characters and a number of the actors - Yuen Biao, Hark-On Fung, Kwan Tak-Hing, Mei Sheng Fan and Ching Tan. This is a shame since despite Dreadnaught having fewer fight scenes of the quality of its predecessor, it has many things going for it.

Kwan Tak-Hing has terrific presence as Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-Hung and he gets far more screen time than in 'Magnificent Butcher' where he had a memorable role, but barely more than a cameo. He even gets more action in this one and though he is clearly doubled for much of these scenes, his manual dexterity for his age (around 76) alone is a great advertisement for the practising of martial arts to promote health.

Leung Kar-Yan is dependable as ever as Wong Fei-Hung's headstrong student Leung Foon. Yuen Biao plays the cowardly 'Mousy' who wants to learn to fight, not knowing that he has been learning a special style of kung fu from his sister at the laundry. This means he does little fighting for much of the film which is not as bad as it sounds since he gets to show off his remarkable athleticism more. Yuen Shun-Yee steals the show as the mentally deranged serial killer and his high energy performance adds greatly to the impact and tone of the film.

Yuen Woo-ping and his team have done another great job with the choreography, especially the lion dancing which is the clear highlight of the action. The taut fight scenes are very well done also, especially fitting the psychotic personality of the the main villain.

Too many different themes have been trying to be built into the running time - horror, comedy, action and romance - for all to be really successful. It is a pity that the cheesy humour could not have been left out as this would have made a improvement to the atmosphere which is great in periods such as the chilling build-up to the final showdown. Also the romantic theme is dropped long before the end of the film with no real resolution.

Nevertheless 'Dreadnaught' is well worth watching for the quality of some of the performances, the kung fu and also for anybody interested in the number of films loosely based around the life of Wong Fei-Hung.
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Wow! Seriously high energy.
daustin1 April 2002
This movie is fantastic. Don't be put off that Yuen Biao's character is completely annoying, and that some of the comedy is of the "guy with crossed eyes getting hit in the face" variety. This movie has at least for of the most memorable scenes I've ever enjoyed in a movie, including tailor-fu, laundry-fu, and doctor-fu. The lion dance is easily one of the coolest and most enjoyable set pieces in any kung fu movie. I saw this in a theater, and at the end of the lion dance, the entire room applauded. Both Kwan Tak-hing as Wong Fei-Hung and Sunny Yuen as White Tiger really stand out in the acting department. I've seen more powerful villains, but never one this psychotic and aggressive. Now that I think about it, I can't remember if White Tiger ever even speaks in the movie. His presence is so strong he certainly doesn't need to. This is an odd movie that doesn't fit the usual patterns. If you're not a fan of the Yuen Bros more goofy fare, like Taoism Drunkard, Drunken Tai-Chi or Young Taoism Fighter, see this anyway, it's much less random and silly, and the production values are very high. Don't miss it.
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Dreadnaught means "Fearless"
PKazee30 March 2014
...so I urge those with a fear of subtitles to "man-up" and make an exception for this film, as watching the dubbed version offers a very different, and inferior experience, to watching the subtitled version. The main issue is with the tone, which is more difficult to nail down with the dubbed version. In fact, Sunny Yuen Shun-yi – despite having no lines - comes off more comic than frighteningly psychotic in the dubbed version due to that version's prevailing tone... or rather, its awkward shifts from one tone to another. Sure, quite a lot of the film is comic, and both versions are hampered by scenes of that wacky cross-eyed pie-in-the-face humor that writer Wong Jing so adores, but still... these maddeningly ridiculous bits manage to seem more like "asides" in the subtitled version, thus allowing for far more successful shifts to the scenes of brutal terror. In any case, though often doubled, its nonetheless great to see Kwan Tak-hing (in his final film appearance) as the legendary Wong Fei-hung, a role he played in over 100 other films! Also, Leung Ka-yan (aka, "Beardy", though entirely beardless here) is as likable as ever, even though he is portraying a particularly trouble-making version of Master Wong's famed protégé, Leung Foon. Highlights include two terrific Lion Dances (the 2nd even more fantastic than the 1st), a classic bout of Tailor-fu (Fung Hark-on vs. Kwan Tak-hing), some very clever Doctor-fu (Shan Kwai/San Kuai vs. Kwan Tak-hing), and Lili Li as the scolding sister of Yuen Biao, who manages to teach him Laundy-fu without his being aware of it, a skill that - naturally - comes in quite handy in a final confrontation between Biao and Shun-yi. Yuen Woo-ping, of course, directs and choreographs the action with an assist from his famed "Yuen Clan". Also starring Philip Ko Fei as Wong Fei-hung's crosstown nemesis
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We couldn't stop watching!
thepts27 September 2005
In a hotel room in Kunming, China, 2005, four western tourists were getting ready to go out for that day's restaurant round, then this movie was on by accident - and we couldn't stop watching! We actually laughed at the lame slapstick, the "lion dance" was terrific, the energy - as mentioned in another review - was perfect throughout! Excellent work.

Now I am at IMDb trying to check out this film, you see, we had to go 15 minutes before the ending to get to the restaurants before they closed, which was surprisingly hard to do with a random Chinese kung fu movie. We made sure to snap up the movie title, I'm going to watch this all the way.

Then I see here it's from 1981 - which wasn't expected at all. Very good film, might look like your classic low-quality run of the mill kung-fu, but believe me, this is a notch above the rest!
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Hokey but Cool
Devans0030 March 2003
Even though the movie had stereotype characters like the cross-eye goofy cop or the bad guy with the facial flaw, Dreadnaught also had some way cool scenes. If you can bear sitting through the slow, run of the mill parts, you'll be rewarded with 3 major scenes [in order of awesomeness]: 1) the fighting Dragons 2) the opera theatre fight and 3) the tailor. It's a slapstick comedy too, so you'll have a few laughs, too. I just don't get the title.
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Clever, funny and off the wall
dubnut1 August 2000
This film begins so similarly to Young Master that I almost felt I was rewatching it. However, to my surprise, it matched and surpassed the classic Jackie Chan movie by miles. The Dragon/Lion fight scene is worth the admission price alone, and it only gets better after that. The comedy is almost Martin/Lewis, and the fighting is amazingly choreographed. Anything less would be your standard Kung Fu fare.

Highly recommended.
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Odd but Interesting Kung-Fu/Horror/Comedy Combo
Bootsy9 February 2000
"Dreadnaught" is a consistently entertaining flick about Mousy (Yuen Biao), a hapless and clumsy coward who stumbles his way into plenty of trouble. While trying to collect a debt, he inadvertently runs afoul of a homicidal lunatic called White Tiger, and spends the rest of the movie being stalked by this freak. The flick is a very early attempt at a kung-fu/horror hybrid, with White Tiger sporting spooky Chinese opera-style make-up and frighteningly leaping into frame time and again. Of course, once he sneaks up on folks he karate chops them rather than stabs them. Still, the guy who plays White Tiger is genuinely creepy, and you really feel this guy's menacing presence. Yuen Biao is great as the goofy Mousy, tripping and falling his way in and out of danger. The fight scenes are excellent, played about half for laughs and half seriously. Add in Kwan Tak-Hing in his classic role as Wong Fei-Hung, and a couple of gross scenes involving ripping heads off chickens and cockroaches, and you've got the makings of a very intriguing kung-fu flick. If you're a fan of the slap-happy style of fighting perfected by Biao, Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan, and you like old school kung-fu stories, this one should be right up your alley.
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Amazing old school Kung-fu, muddled plot
kirkw1716 October 2004
Unusually good kung-fu of the old school. This is characterized by middle shots that emphasize the acrobatic ability of the performers instead of cutting around their short comings with extreme close ups of the actions that, let's say, show a single punch or kick.

As others have mentioned the lion dance scenes alone make this movie worth watching. If you have ever had the opportunity to see a lion dance, this one is in a whole different class at least compared to the ones I've seen in Chinatown parades in the USA.

Tak-Hing Kwan, steals the movie with his portrayal of Wong Fei-Hong. At the time Kwan would have been 76 years old. He was born in the last years of the reign of Empress Dowager Cixi Tai Hou, that is, before the last Emperor Pu-Yi came to power. Truly a link between the Kung-fu of yesterday and today.

All this said, the film is flawed by mixing Hong Kong movie genres. At times it is a kung-fu revenge film, comedy, supernatural horror, master and disciple, as well as a truncated unsatisfying love interest.

Still a must see, by any standard.
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