Jackie Chan's second film as a director (made in 1980, but only officially released in the US on home-video in 1997) dispenses with such niceties as a linear plot, instead wandering aimlessly from action set piece to action set piece, allowing him to exhibit everything he's got and engage
the maximum number of kung fu sidemen in imaginative fights.
Just before the big "lion dance" competition, Tiger (Wei Pei) is injured and Dragon (Jackie Chan) has to take his place. Dragon loses the competition after discovering that Tiger faked his injury and is in fact his disguised competitor, but he keeps this knowledge to himself out of loyalty to his
pal. When Master (Tien Feng) discovers Tiger has smuggled a girl into their kung fu school however, Tiger comes clean and gets kicked out.
Intending to bring Tiger back, Dragon is forced to engage in fights with head cop Sang Kung (Shih Kien), and his son (Yuen Biao) and daughter (Lily Li) all because they believe Dragon is a criminal, due to his carrying a white fan. The reason for this, it is revealed, is that Tiger, who also
carries a white fan, has hooked up with some shady characters and helped the criminal Kam (Whang Ing Sik) to escape police custody. Dragon is even arrested as a result of the misunderstanding, but is finally let go.
Double-crossed by his shady cohorts during a bank robbery, Tiger is left trapped in the bank, but Dragon rescues him and captures the bad guys. All, that is, except the leader, Kam, whom Dragon engages on a hillside in a battle during which Dragon is continually pummeled and outclassed, until he
drinks the liquid from a waterpipe and acquires the crazed strength to defeat his foe.
THE YOUNG MASTER is unpolished, with numerous headlong zooms in and out, in the manner of 1970s chopsocky outings. There's a small amount of wire-enhanced fighting, but mostly it's just Chan doing his stuff: performing acrobatic feats with a fan, a bench, on a makeshift balance beam; executing an
acrobatic lion dance-cum-kung fu fight; fighting in costume as a halfwit and in a makeshift skirt that he swirls like a bullfighter's cape; and above all, taking maximum punishment in the final fight. In fact, the last shot is of Chan wrapped in bandages from head to toe, wiggling two fingers at
Among the several different versions available, the letterboxed dubbed edition contains shortened versions of the fight sequences; the letterboxed subtitled version includes all the extra action, as well as a slightly extended coda. One "fullscreen" subtitled edition features a soundtrack that
includes a musical joke cribbed from Chan's initial unsuccessful attempt at kung fu comedy in 1977, HALF A LOAF OF KUNG FU: the "Popeye" theme plays when Chan suddenly finds untold strength by drinking the liquid from the water-pipe (which the translation tells us is a tobacco pipe, but we know
better). (Violence, nudity.)
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- Released: 1980
- Rating: NR
- Review: Jackie Chan's second film as a director (made in 1980, but only officially released in the US on home-video in 1997) dispenses with such niceties as a linear plot, instead wandering aimlessly from action set piece to action set piece, allowing him to exhib… (more)