September 11th, 2009

THE YOUNG TIGER (1973) **

A woman dies in the back of a taxi and leaves her purse inside the cab.  Since the handbag contains some incriminating evidence on a local crime family, the godfather offers up a big reward to whoever recovers it.  Shortly thereafter, a gang of punks (led by a young Jackie Chan) hassle the cab driver who says he’s never seen the purse.  They try to beat him up while the driver continues to maintain his innocence before the cops show up and scare the hoods away.  This scenario is basically repeated over and over again until the cabbie teams up with a foxy female police inspector to find the missing purse.

 

The Young Tiger is an OK Hong Kong crime movie.  The plot is predictable and much of the action is by the numbers.  The scenes where people have to talk to each other (in horribly dubbed English) are so bad though that when the mediocre Kung Fu sequences come around, you’re more than grateful. 

 

The only thing worth noting about the film is that Jackie Chan has an early atypical role as a bad guy.  Chan’s nice guy appeal doesn’t make him well suited to playing villains and in turn, he looks pretty uncomfortable as the heavy.  It’s definitely odd seeing him portraying a baddie (especially with that huge phony looking mole on his face) but it at least makes the otherwise forgettable movie at least partially memorable.

 

AKA:  Police Woman Against Jackie Chan.  AKA:  Rumble in Hong Kong.  AKA:  The Heroine.

THE KILLER METEORS (1976) ***

Here’s a ripe slice of Kung Fu craziness.  It stars perennial chopsocky star Jimmy Wang Yu as The Killer Meteors.  This Killer Meteors guy is such a badass that he basically just sits on a rock all day and people bring him offerings because they know he’ll kick their ass if they don’t.  Anyway, Killer Meteors gets hired by this sickly guy (Jackie Chan) whose hot wife has poisoned him.  In order to get the antidote, he’s got to beat the snot out of his wife’s four bodyguards.  Since he’s gravely ill and can't fight, he gets Killer Meteors to defeat the bodyguards and steal the antidote.  This leads to double and triple crosses as well as lots of Kung Fu.

 

At first I thought The Killer Meteors was going to be a 70’s disaster movie.  Thank God it wasn’t though.  This flick is just too weird for words.  And that’s a good thing.

 

The plot is structured in a rambling, lackadaisical way, which was really refreshing after most of the cut-and-paste Kung Fu movies I’ve watched lately.  The opening scenes were especially fun to watch because I had no clue what was going on.  First a thief tries to steal a precious pearl before another thief tricks him out of it, then another thief weasels his hands on it, until yet another thief walks away with the pearl and gives it to Killer Meteors (who doesn’t appear until about the 15 minute mark) as an offering.  The way the thieves, who are largely inconsequential (although they do appear briefly later in the story), are used to introduce the hero was pretty original.  Director Lo (The Chinese Connection) Wei handles these scenes with a lot of precise comedic timing and gets the movie off on the right note. 

 

The rest of the movie follows in this manner.  There are perplexing plot twists that don’t make a lot of sense (like the revelation that Killer Meteors is really an undercover agent) but are fun nevertheless.  We are also privy to bizarre sights as the effects of a “Decomposing Flesh Pill” too.  And speaking of bizarre, wait till you get to see why they call The Killer Meteors The Killer Meteors. 

 

Although I really enjoyed the loose as a goose plotting, I really have to say it kinda wore out its welcome after the first hour or so.  While it was cool seeing the film constantly reinventing itself at nearly every single reel change, the fact is the movie runs on a good twenty minutes longer than it needed to.  The flick also featured one too many “Ha Ha, you thought I was dead!” moments for me as well.

 

Like most of the movies on this Jackie Chan DVD box set I bought, he’s barely even in it.  He really isn’t given a lot to do either.  That’s okay by me because Jimmy Wang Yu kicks all kinds of ass in this movie.  If you’ve ever seen him in any of the One-Armed Swordsman movies, you already know what I’m talking about.  Even though Yu is a big star in China, he really deserves to be better known by American audiences.  Do yourself a favor and check him out in this and see if you don’t agree.

 

AKA:  Jackie Chan vs. Jimmy Wang Yu.  AKA:  Wind, Rain, Two Meteors.