Display [English] [Big5]
You are currently displaying Big5
唐人票客 (1973)
Wang Yu, King of Boxers

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/17/2005

This old-school kung fu flick has a pretty standard revenge plot, with Wang Yu taking on the typical evil Japanese opressors, but it's notable as being one of the first films to highlight realistic Japanese versus Chinese martial arts. The movie's focal point is the fifteen-minute brawl at the end that goes across several locales, including a moving train. While it is a bit overlong, the fight generates just enough interest to set this movie apart from many similar ones that came out during the same time.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 08/30/2005

There are a number of themes in “Screaming Tiger”, some very decent acting and some characters that the audience can care about. All of which are overshadowed by the fight scenes which occupy about half of its running time and consist mainly but not exclusively of Jimmy Wang Yu beating up carloads of pickpockets, torturers, martial arts students and even Sumo wrestlers. The action is exciting and very well staged for the period. A multiplicity of style is on display—Japanese, Chinese, Korean—not all of which, one assumes, would be recognized by practitioners of the classic fighting arts of those countries. Thrown into the mix are some street tactics—head butting, choking, eye gouging—so that the final result is an 85 minute fight with occasional breaks for dialog, character development and plot movement.

One theme is the outsider. Ma Tai Yung shows up in a Japanese village during some type of festival. His distinctive Chinese clothing are noticed and giggled at by some of the local lovelies, but he has much more important things on his mind. He is so intent on finding the villain that he is easy prey for a delightful pickpocket, Ying Chu. She escapes temporarily and Ma notices that he is being followed by a very singular individual—a tall guy with a reed basket over his head, playing a bamboo flute. He had been simply part of the crowd watching the festival parade, so this area of Japan must be very tolerant of odd behavior.

It turns out that baskethead is both the voice of reason and conscience and also a device to let the audience know why Ma is in Japan and so focused on his mission. Ma tells him that he is searching for the Japanese sailors that killed his entire family. Ma’s world is binary, a Manichean universe of good and bad, white and black, Chinese and Jap(anese). Baskethead tells him that there is good in every race and that he shouldn’t condemn an entire people for what a few have done, however dastardly. Not surprisingly, Ma ignores this advice—a good thing since otherwise it would have stopped the movie in its tracks.

So, we know that Ma is trying to find and kill the murderers of his family. His clue is a perfumed sachet which one of the Japanese dropped during the struggle—he needs to find a sailor who frequented the China coast and who formerly owned the sachet. Ying Che returns to the story and attaches herself to Ma. Despite her denials he insists she has stolen his purse and demands its return. By this time Ma has fought with and defeated two different gangs of thieves and is led by Ying to the headquarters of the criminals in the village. There her sister is being beaten by an overseer, a Japanese Fagin. The girls are forced to steal for him and are beaten if they don’t produce. This brief, action packed scene does a lot—it establishes some of the Japanese as completely evil, shows the martial arts skills of Ying—she dispatches the overseer and his cronies, with Ma simply mopping up and chucking out. And to underline how detestable they are, just before Ma and Ying burst in the overseer strangles a child who takes part in the pickpocketing. A little girl is choked and dies onscreen something that would never happen in a mainstream movie in the overly child-centered United States.

Some odd ethnic/racial situations arise, most notably regarding a Korean martial arts master. A scene in which Ying is convincing a very reluctant Ma to disrobe so that they can bathe—“I do it all the time” is interrupted by a dispute between the innkeeper and the Korean. The innkeeper is insisting that the Korean pay in advance, since all Koreans are dishonest. The Korean takes offense to this—and Ma sides with the Japanese innkeeper, saying, without a speck of irony that I could detect, that everyone knows that Koreans are untrustworthy. This was after Ma had intervened into a fight between the Korean and about twenty Japanese martial arts guys. Very odd, since it was the only reference Koreans and dishonesty.

The battle between Ma and the traveling Sumo champion is quite a scene. It is as close to defeat that Ma comes—before the final battle, of course. These Sumo guys are big and sloppy but not close to the immense obesity of those shown now. The champ gives Ma a very tough fight and when it seems that he might lose, he is joined in the ring by the five wrestlers he had just defeated. Although faced with an unprecedented amount of tonnage, Ma knocks each of them out.

Another theme is intertwined with the growing relationship between Ma and Ying. It is the stuff that romantic comedies are made of—a totally mismatched couple thrown together by circumstances. He is honest, she is a crook; He is simple and straightforward, she is sly and sophisticated; He is Chinese, she is Japanese (actually not, but neither Ma nor the audience knows that). It is the attraction of opposites—sparks fly and things heat up. The relationship can go nowhere, of course—there is lots more fighting to do. The Korean is defeated and badly injured when he attacks an entire martial arts school run by the main villain. He is taken in by the honorable proprietor of the local Chinese kung fu academy, who then is the target of the villain, who wants the Korean dead and the Chinese school destroyed.

Two final scenes worth mentioning—the death and burial of Ying Chu is one, the final fight scene is the other. Cheung Ching Ching does a touching and believable death scene and clears up a few loose ends in her last speech. The funeral in which her body is wrapped and put on a tiny raft that is sent to sea is an understated masterpiece. The last fight scene takes about 15 minutes. Its centerpiece is a like a pit fight—it takes place in an empty gondola car of a speeding train. Ma finally wins but not before being hit with some huge rocks.

Jimmy Wang Yu is terrific. He is a kung fu artist of the first order. He is joy to watch in the extended fight scenes—fit, tireless and able to sell his punches and kicks.

Recommended, despite the inelegant cropping of a panned and scanned copy.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 08/09/2003
Summary: Promising but ......

The opening sequence has Jimmy in a typical role, as a stranger wandering into town, to whom some locals take an instant dislike. Not that he's bothered, of course. They encircle him, but he spins them off with minimal effort.

A bit more puzzling (to Jimmy and to us) is a weirdo who follows him wearing a cylindrical wicker wastebasket over his head.

The lack of subtitles was a bit of a drawback here, but it became quickly apparent that the story was set in Japan (the costumes and sets, and to some extent what the characters did), and of course it's not hard to guess that revenge features heavily.

The film was quite enjoyable for awhile, but I found it not quite involving enough and turned off at around 40 minutes. Perhaps if I better understood what Jimmy's character was doing, I might have been a bit more indulgent.

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: resisttoexist
Date: 01/10/2002
Summary: Screaming Tiger, Pretty Good Movie

I really liked this movie. There is a Chinese vs Japanese story line which isn't uncommon with Jimmy Wang Yu. It has a pretty good story about Wang Yu's character avenging the deaths of his family. It all ends in a brutal fight at the end which spans different locations, at one point they fight in empty coal cars in a moving train!!!