Hapkido AKA Lady Kung Fu
Do you honestly think that the Hapkido-trio of Kao Yu Ying (Angela Mao), Kao Chang (Carter Wong), and Fan Wei, (Sammo Hung), are able to comply with the wishes of their wise Master, Shih Kung-chan (Han Jae Ji), and spread peace and love amongst their oriental brethren? Moreover, that when they set up a school in a non-descript ancient Chinese province, they won't piss off their Japanese oppressors in the process?
Well, they try their best I suppose. Going from place to place, informing their Asian buddies about their new form of Korean self-defence. Still, I'm afraid to say that a rival Japanese school -- called 'The Black Bear' gang -- don't take too kindly to their presence if truth be told.
Yeah. No word of a lie. 'The Black Bear' gang are right bunch of b*stards. Causing trouble at a cafe. Ogling girls whenever they can. And beating up whomever crosses there path for the sheer hell of it.
Granted, one of the trio -- Fan Wei -- doesn't like the sight of the Black Bears actions one little bit. And over the course of a day or two, he steps in and fights back Hapkido style. Also, just to emolliate these proceedings with a touch more candor, another of the trio -- Kao Chang -- tries to abate Fan Wei's retaliation, by approaching the master of the 'Black Bear' gang, intending to sorts out this mess more amicably.
However, that's most probably why what next transpires all kicks off when Fan goes into hiding, and Kao gets the wok beaten out of him. As an apology goes eskew - three becomes two - careful who you spar - and thank wok that salvation comes from home and afar.
Now whilst watching 'Hapkido', I couldn't help but ponder how similar it is to a lot of films made by the late great, Bruce Lee. Most of the actors in it have worked with him in the past. The story-line is on par with most of his 'avenger-type' tales. And even that chap who plays the interpreter in most of his films -- Ping-Ao Wei -- plays a very similar part in this one too.
Do you see what I mean, dear reader? 'Hapkido' has a lot of ties to Bruce, doesn't it? Plus if you look very closely at this piece, you'll also notice a lot of other actors who have starred with him in the past as well. Like 'Way of The Dragon's' Di Chin for example.
But enough of that for now, huh? What you most probably want to know is how good this film really is? Right? Well, from my own perspective, it's bloody fantastic. The story-line is more progressive than the usual 'avenger' type adventure from this era, with the main protagonists clearly defined, each of them staking a claim on what their respective characters are supposed to represent. Sammo is the rebellious youth. Carter is the stoic diplomat. And Angela is the balance between these two the men.
Also, I have to say that this flick is quite shocking in places as well. It really does take a left turn here, and a sudden departure there, making you wonder how it's all going to turn out at the end. And this -- from my own point of view -- if greatly aided by one of the stars of the show, Angela Mao.
Honest to God, if Bruce had tits he'd be her. Angela does the lady's really proud in this movie; kicking ass and taking names like no other female action star has done since (well, except for Michelle Yeoh of course). In addition to this, both Sammo and Carter pull of a pretty decent job in the process. Each of them really reinforcing 'the whole' through character and action, propping up what could have been a rather clichéd tale considering what has come out before it.
Granted, in places, the actions scenes are a bit too 'wavy arm' for my own liking. But overall 'Hapkido' is a great film. The story is an engaging one to follow. The characters show character. And if you are a Bruce Lee fan, I'd say that this classic slice of
Hong Kong cinema is
defiantly worth a watch.
No doubt about it.