This kung fu classic directed and starring Sammo Hung (Eastern Condors) finally made its long-awaited debut on DVD! Yuen Biao, in his first starring role, is Yipao, a conmen who learns superior kung fu from Koo, a old man ... more »he was trying to con. But when Yipao discovers that Koo is actually "The Fox", a murderous bandit, he must fight his own master for justice. Filled with absolutely knockout fight sequences and Yuen's trademark acrobatics, Knockabout is a fantastic kung fu comedy that will knock your socks off!« less
Adam C. Scarbrough | San Luis Obispo, CA USA | 09/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Another Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao gem. This one has it all: good story, good comedy(maybe too much, but still good), and some of the most ridiculously awesome fight and training scenes I've ever seen. Yuen Biao gets the leading role and performs amazingly. A brief paraphrase of the story is two brothers, Little John(Yuen Biao) and Big John(Leung Kar Yan), are con men. They run across a man who they try to set up and it backfires on them. Eventually, this man becomes their master and trains them. Then comes the twist in the polt(I won't say what it is). Yuen Biao ends up teaming up with Sammo to take on his master, and what a fight it is. It is probably 10 minutes long and could be the best two on one fight I've ever seen. Just to give you a piece, part of the fight Sammo and Yuen both perform monkey style against the master who does a type of snake style with a pipe. I was in awe.
That is just the cherry on top. Once you get through the first half hour, which is relatively slow(it does have some fighting), the movie is non stop action that just gets better and better as it builds to the final confrontation. There is a lot of comedy in the first half of the film and it is very exaggerated. Some of it is really funny though. For those of you who don't care for the humor, don't worry, it soon goes away and the whoopin's begin and they never stop. Also, there are as many or even more acrobatic moves and manuevers done by Yuen Biao than in any Jackie Chan film. Not stunts so much, more flips and flying around while fighting. It's great.
As for the DVD itself, it has dolby 5.1 sound and the picture is a great restoration and transfer in an anamorphic widescreen format. You can choose subtitles or english dubbed audio. The voice of Yuen Biao is really a good one. There are also four trailers for other movies and two trailers for this one in the special features.
I was so impressed with this movie, aside from some over the top comedy, that it instantly has become one of my favorite kung fu flicks of the era. Another great film that is right there with this one, even a little higher, is Magnificent Butcher starring Sammo Hung. I highly reccommend both of these movies to any kung fu collection. You won't be disappointed. "
Knockabout is a great kung fu movie
T. Reilly | 03/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a big fan of kung fu movies. Not wire-fu movies so much. Hero wasn't my cup of tea, and I think Crouching Tiger would've been a hundred times better if they left out the flying stuff. Anyway, this is the type of movie for those who like Drunken Master, Odd Couple (w/ Sammo Hung), Ong-Bakand basically movies like that. No wires, just skills. The fight scenes are very very cool, they focus on Monkey Kung Fu mostly, but they also have some Mantis and some others. I only have two complaints, and neither of them are that big of a deal. Every once in a while, the voices used in dubbing are really corny. And also they add in some monkey sound f/x that I could just do without. Otherwise this is great. The fight scenes are great, the story is great, the sound and dubbing is usually great. Any serious kung fu movie fan should definately have this movie in their collection."
Hackneyed story can't deter Sammo & Biao
Mantis Lake | Detroit, MI USA | 06/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Yuen Biao gets his first starring role in this well-directed and even better choreographed Sammo Hung film. Biao and Leung Kar Yan play Little and Big John, con men who aren't really very good at their craft. Strapped for cash, they end up getting the crap kicked out of them by Koo Wu Tai (Lau Kar Wing) who eventually takes them both as students. Their kung fu improves, just in time to take on some enemies of their master. With the new students' help, the foes are all defeated. All is well until Little John witnesses his master in some morally objectionable activities. After a brawl with their master that leaves Big John in a compost heap, Little John comes to train with the Fat Beggar (Sammo) to take revenge.
The plot is by the numbers and the humor silly and rarely funny yet this movie still rocks. All 4 leads are excellent athletes, though Biao steps up nicely as numero uno. The fights start pretty well, and get better and better as the film goes on. By the time Biao starts training with Sammo the movie is in full-on overdrive. The training scenes are UNBELIEVABLE. Throw in Garbage Boxing and some of the best Monkey Style ever put to film and this is a no-brainer.
This is another of the Sammo classics released by 20th Century Fox. All of which are remastered, widescreened, and have multiple language and subtitle options. Now if only they'd tackle "The Victim". Yuen Biao is said to be the most underrated martial arts talent out there. I would have to lean a little more toward Hsiao Hou, only because Biao has had a lot more starring roles. Both of their versions of Monkey Style are amazing and for different reasons. Though if there was a visual debate, the jump rope scene in this one may sway the undecided in Biao's favor. Many a critic has mentioned it and for good reason. Eat your popcorn early because you can't chew with your lower jaw repeatedly smashing to the floor. This flick is definitely RECOMMENDED. If you have no problems with the lame humor and plot, then highly so.
"There's no power like old power!" -- Jia Wu Dao
Shawn McKenna | Modesto, CA USA | 05/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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 underappreciated 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.
The Fox/Fortune Star R1 release is a very good basic release. There are no dubtitles and the film is uncut. There is an English dub, a genuine Cantonese mono track and it is presented in a beautifully looking widescreen transfer. Unfortunately, like most of the Fox/Fortune Star releases you only get trailers as extras. Here is another example where the best release is the R2 Hong Kong Legends version (like so many of the Hong Kong martial art films on the Fox/Fortune releases).
Great introduction to YUEN BIAO!
D. Wilson | NY by way of Cali | 09/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not his first movie but his first starring role, there is no better film to witness Yuen Biao's incredible talent then right here in 1979's Knockabout. Yuen and Leung Kar Yan star as a couple swindleing brothers known as Little John and Big John. When they meet their match at the hands of the Silver Fox (played by Lau Kar Wing, Lau Kar Leung's lesser known brother) they decide to seek his tutlege and learn his Kung Fu skills. During all this you get glimpses of Sammo Hung's character, a pauper who appears to live in the same scheming fashion as the aforementioned brothers. I don't want to say much more beyond that because there are several solid twists and turns along the way that make things a little more interesting. This is your basic Kung Fu comedy (a la Magnificient Butcher and The Drunken Master)so the dramatic scenes (scene really) are only there to help motivate the characters and are quickly swept under the carpet for another slapstick comedy routine or fight (or a mix of both). What this movie really acts as is a showcase for Yuen Biao and his incredible acrobatic feats... wait until you see the jump rope training sequence WOW! A great cast help round everything out and make this one of Sammo Hung's best directorial efforts filld with his usual top notch choreography. Oh and keep an ear out for the ridiculously funny monkey sound effects that they filter in whenever someone uses that style of Kung Fu... priceless!"