Synopsis: A martial arts instructor from the police force gets imprisoned after killing a man by accident. But when a vicious killer starts targeting martial arts masters, the instructor offers to help the police in return for his freedom.
Release Date: May 22, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Thriller
Kung Fu movies are a dime a dozen, and most of them have the words Kung Fu in the title. Case in point: Kung Fu Killer, which is also known as Kung Fu Jungle.
Kung Fu Killer begins with a martial arts expert named Hahou Mo (Donnie Yen from the Ip Man movies) turning himself in for killing a man while avenging his daughter. Three years later, while Ha is in prison, someone starts killing all of the top martial artists in Hong Kong. Detective Luk Yuen-Sum (Charlie Yeung from Bangkok Dangerous) meets with Ha to ask for his help in finding the killer. Ha, who has already heard about the killings, recognizes the pattern that the killer is following and knows who the next victim will be. He offers to help catch the killer – if he is freed from jail. Luk agrees, and Ha soon figures out that the killer is a psychopath named Fung Yu-Sau (A Touch of Sin‘s Baoqiang Wang). Furthermore, Fung’s attacks are personal, and his entire motive is to get to Ha. Ha has to keep his emotions in check as he hunts the man who is hunting him.
For what it is, Kung Fu Killer is good. The problem is that it’s been done before. The movie, directed by Teddy Chan (Bodyguards and Assassins) and written by Chan, Ho Leung Lau (Painted Skin), and Tin Shu Mak (14 Blades), has the same fairly typical revenge seek-out storyline which has come to define the martial arts genre in the modern age. The inclusion of a lot of police procedural adds a bit to the mystery aspect of the film, but it’s not really an effective mystery since the killer’s identity is known from the start – the mystery is not the man, but his motive, and even that is paper thin.
Still, people don’t see movies like Kung Fu Killer for the mystery and drama; they want ass-kicking, and there’s plenty of it here. Donnie Yen proves that he’s still got it, even after over thirty years of punching and kicking his way through movies, and Baoqiang Wang makes a worthy opponent for the master. The fighting is broken up by bits of exposition that are extremely wordy, especially while viewing the film with subtitles, but it’s never long before another fight breaks out. If you’re looking for an intellectual arthouse film, keep looking. If you just want to see people beating the hell out of each other, Kung Fu Killer is as good as anything that you’re going to find.
A martial arts movie is only as good as its action sequences, and Kung Fu Killer is no exception. The movie’s fight scenes are easily its strongest attribute. Highlights include a fight in an art museum on top of a hanging dinosaur bone exhibit and a climactic battle that takes place on a busy freeway with honking cars speeding by as the combatants pummel away at each other. The scenes are all done for maximum entertainment, so while they are painstakingly choreographed and performed, the sequences also get a bit of help from camera and editing trickery. Kung Fu Killer combines complex stunt work with movie magic to give the audience a battling good time.
The only weak spot in the game isn’t really a weak spot, just an observation. For as much fun as they are, the fight scenes don’t really have any style of their own – they simply mimic the styles of other action films. One fight scene will have long one-takes like The Raid, another will have slow-mo effects such as those seen in The Matrix, yet another will be edited with quick cuts and close-ups á la John Wick, and still another will have the type of cable-flying stunts found in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Every action sequence seems to have its own identity, like it’s its own short film instead of part of a feature. The only other criticism that can be made about the fight scenes is that they go on for a long time, but to anyone who wants to see a movie like Kung Fu Killer, that’s not a bad thing.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Teddy Chan
- Producer(s): Catherine HunNing SongAlex Dong
- Screenwriter(s): Teddy ChanHo Leung LauTin Shu Mak
- Cast: Donnie YenCharlie YeungBaoqiang Wang Michelle BaiDeep NgAlex FongKang YuYanneng ShiLouis FanJohn ChiangSiu Ming TsuiChristie Chen
- Editor(s): Ka-Fai Cheung
- Cinematographer: Wing-Hang Wong
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Dora Ng
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Peter Kam
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: China