Mad Monkey Kung Fu is a movie I just recently learned about. Can it stand the test of time and still impress?
I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know much about this film so I don’t have any inside information. It’s a Shaw Brother’s film that stars Lau Kar Leung and Hsiao Hou. If you know some facts that are interesting info, let me know and I’ll be sure to put them in.
I’m gonna talk with slight spoilers, but it’s a movie from the 70’s and I’m not going that in-depth. The motives of some of the characters are hard to figure out and make logical. For example, I get why Chen became a street performer after the opening scene, but 5 years have passed since that scene. Did he just move on and not try to get his sister back? They don’t explain much as to how he copes with this.
On the other hand, the villain’s motives are difficult to see, but are slowly revealed throughout the film. I think this makes the story tie in rather nicely after all of the events that pass. Finally, little monkey will be liked by some while he will simply annoy others. I was right on the edge with him, finding him lovable, yet grating at times.
Mad Monkey Kung fu has a plot that is basic, but not lacking in any way. I was honestly surprised at some of the things that happen (the monkey!) and how the mood shifted from time to time. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. If anything, it was a pleasant surprise because I was expecting a basic and lighthearted 70’s revenge film. Like I said, it’s not necessarily deep, but it has some unique twists that keep the motives for most of the characters logical while keeping everyone entertained.
There’s a reason why I have a soft spot in my heart for older action movies. The action is great and the skills of the actors are genuine. Each take is long, yet intricate, and I love how the choreography ties in to each movement or prop. Now, there are some slapstick elements, but it works with the Monkey’s movements and choreography. All in all, these are some of the best fights from this era.
There is one more element I want to touch on, and that’s the training sequences. I loved the training in this movie, and it really showed off stars Lau Kar Leung and Hsiao Hou’s skills. Course, adding Fei-hong’s theme didn’t hurt either. I love how these films can make difficult tasks look easy, even though we know they are a pain to pull off. It really makes me wonder why we don’t see these training sequences anymore.
Own it, Watch it, or Skip it?
It’s always hard to review an older movie. Those that grew up watching it have nostalgia to deal with, while modern conventions have changed since the creation of the film. That being said, I think this movie is enjoyable by anyone’s standards. The rather dark plot will surprise some, while the fantastic fights and training sequences will please others. I’m happy to see Lau Kar Leung when he was younger, as I think Legend of the Drunken Master was the oldest film I saw with him in it.
Mad Monkey Kung Fu may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ll say that everyone should at least watch it. If you’re a fan of the genre, however, you won’t go wrong adding this one to the collection (especially for the price.)