Lackey And The Lady Tiger (HK 1980)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/18/01
Cast: Mars, Tien Niu, Hwang Jang Lee, Chiang Kam

Ho hum. Another goofy kung fu comedy from the early 80's. This time around, well known Hong Kong stuntman Mars plays a bumbling fool who wishes to learn kung fu. Everyone teases him and beats him up, but he eventually meets a young girl disguised as a boy (kung fu diva Tien Niu) who decides to teach him the snake and crane fist technique. He also learns some staff work from her father, whose "fishing pole technique" is nearly unbeatable. Mars also invents his own fighting style that mimics a cat - complete with ridiculous meowing sound effects. Boy, this film is a chore to sit through... Anyway, through a contrived plot device, perennial villain Hwang Jang Lee has just been released from prison after serving a ten year term, and he's determined to kill Tien Niu's father. Fortunately Mars and Tien show up in time to defeat him, accompanied by a satisfying display of kung fu goodness.

As a star vehicle for Mars, it seems clear that he wanted to follow in Jackie Chan's footsteps, and the ridiculous plot, stupid humor, and shoestring budget mirror Chan's earlier works. You can't deny Mars's oafish charm and amazing physical skill, but it becomes painfully obvious that he just isn't leading man material, and that's what ultimately drags the film down. The same could be said about legendary leg fighter Hwang Jang Lee as well. These people are athletes, not actors. Regardless, Mars, Hwang Jang Lee, and cute-as-a-button Tien Niu all put on a good show when the fists and staves start flying.