Mad Monkey Kung Fu (HK 1979)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 10/29/00
Director: Liu Chia Liang (Lau Kar Leung)
Cast: Hsiao Hou, Liu Chia Liang (Lau Kar Leung), Lo Lieh, Wei Ying Hung

An amazing display of physical excellence! This film marked the acting debut of master Liu Chia Liang, and the results are astounding. Mr. Chan (Liu Chia Liang) is a famous Chinese opera performer, but when perennial villain Lo Lieh takes a fancy to his lovely sister (Wei Ying Hung), he frames Chan for the rape of his wife and takes the girl as compensation. He also cripples Chan's hands so that he can never practice kung fu again. So Chan takes to the streets as a simple entertainer and makes friends with a street rat nicknamed Monkey (Hsiao Hou). Chan and Monkey suffer horribly from the vicious village racketeers who end up killing Chan's pet monkey. Monkey goes to kill the nasty bad guys, but gets brutally beaten in the process, so Chan finally decides to teach him the art of monkey fist kung fu. A punishing training sequence commences, followed by an assault on Lo Lieh and his wicked minions. When Chan hears about his unfortunate sister, he eventually comes to the aid of the overwhelmed Monkey and together they defeat Lo Lieh.

First and foremost, Hsiao Hou delivers an incredible performance - possibly his finest ever. The fighting and stunts that he pulls off are simply unbelievable! Liu Chia Liang's deft direction and choreography take excellent advantage of all of the players, and the action scenes are pure genius - he is truly the undisputed master. Although he takes a back seat to Hou, Liang's performance is fabulous and seeing the two of them train is fascinating. A spectacular and delightful film, and a true kung fu classic.