Knockabout (HK 1979)

Rating: **
Director: Samo Hung
Cast: Yuen Biao, Leung Ka-Yan, Liu Chia Yung, Samo Hung, cameos by Mars, Karl Maka, Lam Ching Ying

Yuen Biao's film debut is considered in many kung fu circles to be his best work, but I was a bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong, he's an incredible athlete and acrobat, but there just didn't seem to be that much fighting in this film. The plot is completely formulaic and interchangeable with any other kung fu film that came out at the time. Yuen Biao and Leung Ka-Yan are a couple of pranksters whose money making schemes always backfire. After losing everything, they finally decide to learn kung fu, so they can make money by force. They manage to convince master Liu Chia Yung to teach them how to fight, and Yuen learns some monkey fu from a comedic beggar (Samo Hung) as well. After numerous arduous training sessions (which are the best parts of the film), the final showdown takes place in the same field where nearly every other final showdown takes place.

For the most part, the film is tedious and the humor is long-winded and awkward. This is typical for Samo's kung fu comedies. The fighting, however, is quite good, and the choreography, cinematography, and editing are amazing. Yuen Biao has quite a few "oh my god" moments as he shows off his acrobatic skill and impeccable timing. Good stuff for kung fu buffs, but it can be a tad boring between bouts.