Director: Teddy Chan.
Cast: Donnie Yen, Charlie Yeung, Baoqiang Wang, Bing Bai, Deep Ng, Alex Fong.
Running Time: 96 minutes
Synopsis: Hahou Mo (Yen) is released from prison in order to help police track down a serial killer targeting Kung Fu masters.
Kung Fu always deserves a place a on the big screen. It’s very easy to ignore the actual movements of a well choreographed fight, as unlike dances we’re mostly concerned with what the eventual outcome will be. Seeing it on the big screen allows for big moves to be more visible, without the necessity to slow everything down. There’s something that kung fu and martial arts films need though, and that’s a plot…arguably.
KUNG FU KILLER knows it needs a plot, even though the main thrust is very simple indeed. Donnie Yen is released from prison to track down a serial killer. The serial killer is targeting kung fu masters and using their specialty (whether it be fists, legs, weapons etc.) to dispatch them. The plot is enough to delve into just enough character development, while also providing a stream of action sequences and fights.
Unfortunately, knowing that Yen and antagonist Wang must meet in the climax, it robs all previous fights of any real involvement or tension. We know that it’s our hero who will be taking down the serial killer, and although the fights look lyrical at times like poetry in movement, who cares when the outcome is so obvious? The fights are also a little disappointing in their construction. The use of wires is very clear at times, and the finale on a motorway has some awful CGI cars/trucks. It completely takes the viewer out of the fight, and undermines these talented stars. When Colin Firth is kicking arse in incredibly well shot sequences in THE KINGSMAN, I expect some of China’s best to embrace the more physical stuff.
Yen is the charismatic lead we’ve come to suspect, but it’s Baoqiang Wang as the underdog antagonist who gets the most to do. Not only does he get a series of fights, each time demonstrating a new skill, but he also has a moving backstory. Although he’s the villain, you have to admire his persistence and dedication to his craft. In some respects, you want him to be victorious just because we’ve seen him work for it.
KUNG FU KILLER is nothing spectacular or noteworthy and nor does it have that one memorable moment or classic scene; aside from some excellent use of poles in the climax. It’s fun and forgettable and hits all of the right notes, but it mostly makes you want to hunt out your favourite martial arts classics for another watch.
[usr=2] KUNG FU KILLER is released in cinemas on 20th February.