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Fearless Hyena - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Siu Kyun Gwaai Ziu

Hong Kong 1979

Action, Comedy

Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan
James Tien
Yen Shi-Kwan
Lee Kuen
Ricky Cheng
Dean Shek

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Fearless Hyena

Story: Shing Lung (Jackie Chan) is a rascal who is full of mischief, to the regret of his grandfather (James Tien), who teaches him the martial arts of his clan and constantly has to remind him not to show his skills in the public. However, in order to earn a bit of money Shing lets himself getting talked into working for a business man. The business man owns a martial arts school and Shing is supposed to work there as a teacher. Thanks to his skills he soon has beaten a few rivaling masters who have challanged the school. At the same time master Yen (Yen Shi-Kwan), who is working for the Qing government, is looking for Shing's grandfather since his clan is to be wiped out by order of the government, and because of Shing's performances he soon finds him. After Shing has lost his grandfather he pledges to avenge him, but he stands no chance against Yen. Another mysterious master (Li Kuen) keeps Shing from doing anything stupid and eventually teaches him a secret martial art technique that might put him into a position to stand his ground against Yen.

Review: Those who are interested in Hong Kong martial arts flicks and moreover always have wanted to take a look at Jackie Chan's directorial debut shouldn't miss out on "Fearless Hyena". Because even though this is without a doubt a movie for kung fu lovers - around 70-80 percent of the movie consist of fighting! - you can immediately make out the class of a Chan-flick which most importantly stands out thanks to great choreography and many good ideas that bring some diversity into the film. For this you have to put up with a pretty shallow story and very little plot development, though. At least the characters are brought to screen well and succeed in making us care about them which isn't something that can be taken for granted in this genre.

Fearless Hyena - Film Screenshot 11

As always Jackie Chan shows the kind of charisma that is demanded of him to carry such a movie. However, next to that he is supported quite well by his co-stars, too. Only a rather lengthy cameo by Dean Shek seems to be thrown into the movie in a rather lackluster fashion. In general there are serious flaws concerning the way the story unfolds as well as the editing. Even back then a "I will avenge my master!"-story was pretty hackneyed. Also, right from the getgo there are extreme parallels to "Drunken Master" and "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow", two movies that made Jackie Chan famous a few years prior. Accordingly, you could worry that Chan brashly copies well-tested elements to further ride on his wave of success. But if that had been the case Chan never would have earned the position in movie industry he has today.

Fearless Hyena - Film Screenshot 12

Clearly copied, though, are soundtrack pieces from movies like "The Pink Panther" or "Superman". Apart from that there are also a few slapstick sound effects that can be irritating. Of course, "Fearless Hyena" is once again full of lighthearted humor, which especially breaks through in those scenes in which Chan disguises and faces several martial arts experts for money. Him dressing as a girl is particularly convincing. Yet, you shouldn't worry seeing nothing else but nonsense. This kung fu flick can also be pretty tough and even has a few dramatic moments in store that are quite appealing. You are getting fond of the characters as things progress, too, but you will probably only be able to have fun with this flick if you are interested in martial arts as well.

Apart from a training scene that drags on forever for some odd reason and shows Chan doing a brutal version of sit-ups in slow-motion for minutes the fights absolutely manage to convince. There are several occasions that will make you gaze in awe at the spectacular moves the martial artists succeeded in pulling off in one go without a single cut. Chan is at the pinnacle of his physical skills and he shows it. Particularly worthy of praise is that the film never gets repititive despite featuring countless fights. Whether it's fighting in disguise or a training session with chopsticks at lunch Chan's choreography is always innovative and has that special something. Of course there is also something extraordinary saved for the showdown: emotional kung fu...

Fearless Hyena - Film Screenshot 13

And what might that be? Well, it is supposed to confuse your enemy and channel the emotions of the hot-tempered protagonist in a way that might benefit him. Yet, there are clearly elements of monkey style kung fu and drunken boxing to be made out as well. Even reading these lines you should have a general idea of there having been put a lot of effort into the choreography and that the great fighting scenes are memorable indeed. It is difficult, though, to recommend "Fearless Hyena" to anyone else but martial arts fans because despite a high pacing and some humor it's more than anyone else those viewers who are able to appreciate the physical skills and richness of ideas concerning the fights who will get their money's worth. Thus, martial arts fans definitely shouldn't miss this one!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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