A nice effort, but too many pitfalls to recommend
Mantis Lake | Detroit, MI USA | 12/22/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Isn't it strange? I love old-school kung fu movies. I love Jackie Chan movies (at least before he started making films in America). Yet old-school Jackie Chan films can really be tough to take. Even some of his "classics". This movie is definitely a notch above "Drunken Master" in both fights and humor. It's just wildly inconsistent. Though it does have the Korean born Hapkido Grandmaster Ing-Sik Whang. He rocks. Everything else is a little off. Some of the humor is actually quite funny and there are some cool scenes. The lion dance, for example. It's not bad, and it is enjoyable to watch, but not on the level I was expecting for a kung fu movie. Though expectations will often turn a potentially good movie sour.
The film is digitally remastered and in widescreen, so the presentation is nothing to complain about, but... having Wei Pai and Yuen Biao in your movie and hardly having them do anything IS. What a waste. Usually in Jackie's films of this period the final fight helps make up for the lack of substance that preceded it, but here it doesn't work. The choreography is very good, and ahead of its time, but the premise of the fight is too absurd for them to be able to pull it off. This does have an option for English dubbing. I was taking a chance thinking that it was subtitled only. 2.5, if that helps.
Often heavy going, but worth it for the finale
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 05/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Young Master was Jackie Chan's directorial debut, and a quarter of a century on it looks a lot less groundbreaking than it once did. In fact, much of the first hour is terrible, feeling like one of those old Shaw Brothers films filled with crash zooms and elaborately choreographed "a-one-and-a-two" fight scenes where the stunt men are more interested in striking stances and hitting their marks than looking like they're actually trying to hit each other. In many ways, it's almost a transitional picture between the old formal, theatrical and wildly unconvincing style and the more believable let's-try-to-make-it-look-like-we're-actually-trying-to-hurt-each-other style of more modern Hong Kong action movies. What that means is that a lot of it is unfortunately both unconvincing and dull. Just when you're ready to throw in the towel and are desperately trying to think of who you can fob the DVD onto as a Christmas present, it suddenly comes alive in the last half hour with two great fight sequences - one in which Chan takes on group of crooks, the other a 17-minute dust-up with Whong In Sik that really works incredibly well despite offering no more than the two fighters on Tiger Mountain with a comic relief sidekick acting as referee/second. There's also some fun to be had working out where the film's score comes from. As with most Hong Kong movies of the period, it's mostly a `name that tune' pick-and-mix lifted from the studio's record collection, with Bernard Herrmann's Obsession and Holst's The Planets topping the most played list at Golden Harvest that month. Heavy going, but definitely worth it for that last half hour."