Legend of the Dragon
Reviewed by YTSL
In many ways, this 1991 film is your average
Stephen Chow vehicle. For one thing, the role given to Hong Kong's
king of comedy is that of the kind of innocent, naive and hayseed-ish anti-hero
that many of his fans seem to love for him to essay (and allows him to
mug and act goofy to his heart's content). For another, its story
is one in which the winsome looking boy-man and his equally righteous allies
get into a situation where he -- as the chief representative of the underdogs
-- has to wage an uphill battle against sophisticated as well as bad people.
Then there is his predictably -- hence my not considering its disclosure
to be a major "spoiler" -- as well as ultimately prevailing by deriving
strength from traditional sources and the goodwill of others.
Alternatively, LEGEND OF THE DRAGON is not the
kind of filmic offering that one would immediately associate with Danny
Lee (the director), Leung Kar Yan, Yuen Wah and Shing Fui-On. Yet
the latter three have parts in this good humored work -- as the main character's
not entirely scrupulous "uncle", upstanding village elder father (it was
a real shock to see Yuen play a good guy for a change since I have come
to think of him as having the archetypal face of a Hong Kong movie villain)
and a flash urban thug, respectively -- while the actor who I tend to think
of as the funny man's usually ubiquitous sidekick, Ng Man Tat, is missing
from the production.
At the risk of drawing attention away from the
lead actor, I have to say that I consider the support casting -- which
also Teresa Mo as the one female who has significant screen time, or maybe
even any actual lines to utter -- to be one of the more refreshing aspects
of a rather formulaic film (which does have its share of pleasantly light-hearted
moments and amusing visuals -- I particularly enjoyed the post-ride-in-the-convertible
hair styles of Chow, Yuen and Mo -- but whose Prodigal Son meets "country
bumpkins versus city slickers" storyline is hardly the world's most original).
It is very much to his credit though that even while Stephen Chow furnishes
the bulk of this piece's highlights, he really does seem inclined to ensure
that quite a few of the named others get at least one chance to individually
LEGEND OF THE DRAGON makes allusions to Bruce
Lee by having the chief character be named Siu Lung (Chinese for Little
Dragon) -- like that martial arts and movie legend -- and his kung fu sifu
father having been a friend and colleague of the man whose cinematic efforts
included those entitled "Enter the Dragon" and "Way of the Dragon".
The small amount of kung fu that one sees in this unabashed comic piece
is generally played for laughs though (even during the all too short sequence
in which Chow stylishly wields an umbrella as a weapon in a manner that
Jet Li might be proud to do); this despite the film's boasting two respected
action choreographers in Yuen Wah and another of the Seven Fortunes, Corey
Yuen Kwai (the director of "Yes Madam!" and "Fong Sai Yuk", among other
impressive action works and has a small cameo as a rural policeman).
Instead, the skills that are most lovingly showcased
in LEGEND OF THE DRAGON are that which belong to champion pool players
(including those of a genuine master of the game in Jimmy White as well
as that which Stephen Chow surely only can possess by way of some kind
of cinematic trickery). Although some might scoff at this idea, the
result is actually positive. If nothing else, this focus on that
which is not often featured in Hong Kong movies endows an otherwise standard
offering -- which never once succeeded in making me laugh out loud -- with
some rather unique as well as downright cool scenes that make for amazing
along with fun viewing.
My rating for the film: 7.
Just as a note to all the Amy Yip fans out there,
I wanted to mention that she has a small cameo (if you can call anything
the Yipster does small) that lasts for about a minute - but it is one in
which her assets are very prominent.
Distributed by Universe
The transfer is excellent.
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
The subtitles with 4 choices: Chinese
(Traditional), English, Chinese (Simplified) and Bahasa (Indonesia)
It has it's own trailer plus previews for Love
is Love and Magnificent Scoundrels.
There is cast infomation for Danny Lee, Stephen
Chow and Teresa Mo. An interesting factoid on Teresa that I was unaware
of is that she retired because she got married to Tony Au - a fairly well
known director (Roof with a View).
The subs are easy to read.