The Kung Fu Scholar (HK 1993)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/5/03
Cast: Aaron Kwok, Dicky Cheung, Vivian Chow, Leung Ka-Yan, Gordon Liu (Liu Chia Hui), Ng Man Tat

Made during the height of Hong Kong silliness, this is yet another bizarre hybrid of lame-brained humor and frantic martial arts action. The majority of the film revolves around two students (handsome Aaron Kwok and goofy Dicky Cheung) playing pranks and trying to outdo each other. The stunningly beautiful Vivian Chow is on hand as eye candy and to serve as the object of everyone's desire, but sadly has very little to do in the film. While all sorts of silliness is going on at the school, a fierce battle is taking place between kung fu veterans Leung Ka-Yan and Gordon Liu, concerning the custody of the eighth prince (whoever that may be). Leung ends up hiding at the school in the guise of a teacher, but Aaron and Dicky suspect something is up. The three of them eventually team up to defeat the villainous Gordon Liu in a frenetic kung fu free-for-all, and return to the school just in time to beat a rival school in the annual competition.

Painfully silly on every level, but watchable because of the charms and athletic skills of the stars. The action scenes are very well executed and fun to watch. Even the normally annoying Dicky Cheung performs some admirable stuntwork and is quite enjoyable when he's not overacting and mugging for the camera. Aaron Kwok is at his physical peak and watching him move is pure joy. It's also great to see Leung Ka-Yan and Gordon Liu in action again, as true masters of the genre from an age long gone. Again, there's no reason for Vivian Chow to be in the film, but I'm certainly not complaining as she is simply mesmerizing to watch. Recommended only for kung fu buffs with a high tolerance for inane slapstick.