(Source: Fantasia)
(Source: Fantasia)

It sounds really unfair that I have to describe a movie like Kung Fu Killer (also known as Kung Fu Jungle btw) without knowing Kung Fu.

Donnie Yen is Mo Hahou, a man serving his time for killing a man by accident. He’s a model inmate who never causes any trouble, until he hears of the murder of a martial arts expert. There’s someone out there killing the greatest martial arts experts in Hong Kong, killing them with the same fighting style that is their expertise. The man is soon identified as Fung Yu-Sau (Wang Baoqiang).

Mo Hahou strikes an uneasy alliance with the police to find the killer in exchange for his freedom. Along for the ride is Sinn Ying (Michelle Bai) who wants Mo to stop using his fists. Don’t you worry though, before the movie is over you’ll see exactly why he may be the master to beat.

There’s thrill rides and then there’s over the top, but somehow director Teddy Chan has managed to walk a line where he cautiously brings the most amazing of fights without actually betraying the overall feel of a story to be told. At no point does the movie have to stop the characterization of villain, police officer and anti-hero to just devolve into a random match. Every fight helps the plot along rather than feel like the story is hampering the action or the other way around.

You’ll have to keep an eye out as everyone that appears on screen is tied to the history of Hong Kong’s martial arts. That also includes people in the background and behind the camera. The movie itself is more than just the usual nostalgic feeling of days gone by and actually evolves the narrative of what a martial arts film can be beyond the usual old tired cliches. The fighting scenes are a joy and a marvel to watch. The opening prison sequence is just an introduction. By the time we reach the final battle, expectations are crazy high and incredibly enough, it delivers. Stay behind for the credits to find out who was who on the screen.

There are love letters and there are homages paid in film to an art, but I prefer not to think of this movie as such. It is a part of the history of martial arts itself and showcases so much talent and skill that I can state if you have not watched martial arts films in a while and wonder how far they’ve gone, this will get you up to date really fast.

Strongly recommended if you want to see the potential of a good martial arts film that does not compromise its plot for action nor its action for a plot.

Coming next!

  • Friday, July 17 – 19:40 – Assassination Classroom (Concordia Hall Theatre)
  • Saturday, July 18 – 18:45 – Robbery (J. A. de Seve)
  • Saturday, July 18 – 21:30 – Deathgasm (Concordia Hall Theatre)
  • Sunday, July 19 – 19:20 – We Are Still Here (Concordia Hall Theatre)

That will do for now.

(Sources: Fantasia International Film Festival)