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ǩ (1979)
The Fearless Hyena


Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/20/2006
Summary: Back to Lo Wei for one more film...

After Jackie’s two-picture deal with Seasonal films expired, he returned (somewhat unhappily) to Lo Wei’s film studio. However, with two genuine hits under his belt, he now had enough clout to make some changes – first and foremost, he would now direct himself and retain some control of his films.

The results are somewhat mixed. The plot and general feel of this film bear striking resemblances to the films he made for Seasonal, but sadly the production values don’t come anywhere close. Even in the recent remaster of this film, it still looks cheap and rather amateur. Also, the humour in this film is very hit-or-miss, and not a patch on Drunken Master.

The absence of Yuen Siu-Tien is another handicap (he had become a big star after Drunken Master and this lead to him being inundated with work – sadly contributing to his death shortly afterwards). Instead, we have James Tien in aged make-up and grey wig (which works insomuch as he doesn’t need to be doubled, but is unconvincing nonetheless) and Chan Wai-Lau in the “Kung Fu Master/Beggar” role.

However, the whole scene where Jackie is in drag is brilliant, and the chopstick struggle with Chan Wai-Lau is a masterpiece – it must have taken ages to work out the intricacies and execute it so smoothly. In fact, it’s worth seeing the film for these two scenes alone, but the final fight with Yen Shi-Kwan isn’t bad either.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Masterofoneinchpunch
Date: 06/28/2005
Summary: You can call me Rotten Egg!

Jackie Chan had just established his Hong Kong popularity with Seasonal Pictures Snake in Eagles Shadow and the sublime Drunken Master. With the success of those films Lo Wei, who lent him out to Seasonal, let Jackie have complete control over his next picture. Fearless Hyena would be Jackie’s directorial debut – though he would be working with a much smaller budget than his Seasonal experience. He would also stunt coordinate and write this film too. This movie would out gross the stellar receipts of Drunken Master and help earn Jackie 6000 HK dollars (his pay was 3000 per film; though he made over 50000 on Drunken Master). This measly pay helped exacerbate the rift between him and Lo Wei which led to his departure and the infamous sequel.

Jackie reprises his goofy student role that he played in Drunken Master. This time he is Shing Lung, a talented but capricious student and grandson of Chen Ping Fe (the ubiquitous James Tien). Lung would rather gamble or goof off then study his forms. Little does he know that his Grandfather is marked for death by Yen Ting Hua (the underrated Yam Sai-kwoon aka Yen Shi Kwan) who is trying to destroy the Sien Yi clan founded by Hiu Fei (I just love keeping track of these names, I do not know why). Though Shing is forbidden to teach (or show) the Kung Fu his grandfather teaches him he (of course) does it anyways.

Shing tries to make his grandfather proud by getting a job selling coffins. The coffin dealer played by Dean Shek is an unscrupulous merchant who even sells secondhand coffins. This cameo plays to the strengths of Dean and is quite an interesting and hilarious scene. Hapless Shing blows this opportunity by trapping Dean in one of his favorite coffins. He runs away and while walking the public he is confronted by three ruffians (Great Bear, Stony Egg and Ironhead) he beat up earlier. They want him to teach them Kung Fu.

Shing meets their Master Ti Cha who is in charge of the Everything Clan who has no actual skills except for scheming. Ti offers Lung a position and lots of money to help there school learn effective fighting techniques. Ti uses him in the old ploy as a lowly laborer to fight heads of other schools (so if the lowly laborer is that good, just imagine how good Master Ti is.) This leads to several excellent fight scenes that are incredibly fun to watch. I especially like when Shing fights the Lu Ying and the Willow Sword (using the Pink Panther theme as background music) as a cross-eyed beggar. He then fights a large albeit slow man as a woman (yes, Jackie in Drag and no he is not cute).

Shing then makes a huge mistake by naming the facility under the Sien Yi name. Now the rest of the film is very predictable with the ultimate showdown between Shing Lung and Yen Ting Hua. The way it is handled though is quite sagacious. The training scenes are Jackie at his masochistic best. With him pulling huge sacks, doing amazing upside-down sit-ups with his new trainer the Unicorn having a sadistic gleam in his eyes. Shing is even taught Emotional Kung Fu (which Jackie made up for this film) using Joy, Anger, Sorrow and Happiness to focus on one’s enemy “emotional” weak spot.

One of my favorite scenes is the Dueling Chopsticks scene in which the Unicorn prevents Shing from eating by using his chopsticks (of course.) Unfortunately it has influenced me to be quite annoying and apply this whenever applicable.

I would not rate this film as highly as Drunken Master. There are problems with the plot that takes too much from Drunken Master. However, I feel that this is an unheralded martial arts piece that is funny and exciting with excellent ideas and stunt choreography by Jackie Chan. This is also a must see if you want to watch Jackie in drag.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 12/07/2003

Must be seen! If only for the humor. Do not hesitate to fast-forward, as you may well need it.

[5/10]


Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 10/08/2003

Standard kung-fu movie; a young man (Chan) sees his grandfather killed and vows revenge. A mostly nondescript movie, save for a couple of decent fight sequences (including one with Jackie in drag), but of interest only because this is Chan's first stint as a director. Puzzlingly, this film made much more money than the far superior Drunken Master.


Reviewed by: SteelwireMantis
Date: 07/10/2003
Summary: A Good 1st time attempt at direction

After making a string of awful Bruce Lee imitations forced upon by Lo Wei, Jackie Chan convinced Wei that he should try to make a movie as a director himself.

Chan stars as a troublemaking kid who lives with his grandfather. His grandfather had warned him about not using his Kung Fu (for it is a secret).
When his grandfather is killed, Chan seeks revenge after taking lessons from a crippled beggar.

This is far superior to the crap that Lo Wei had made with Jackie Chan even though I think DM and Snake In The Eagle's Shadow were much more enjoyable. This was a great debut for Jackie Chan as a director who has directed many classics after. Definitely worth a watch.

****/*****

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: Early comedy kung fu

This was one of the first comedy kung fu films made, that was actually funny. Jackie Chan started to break through into comedy at this point.

Don't bother with the second though, it's not funny at all!

Rating (out of 5): 3

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)


Reviewed by: Ryoga
Date: 12/25/2001

A very old Jackie Chan film filled with many laughs and fights. Jackie's grandfather (played by James Tien) wants to keep their kung fu a secret but it eventually becomes too late and gets killed. Jackie finds a man named Unicorn and helps him on his training so he can take revenge.


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 09/26/2001
Summary: A landmark film from a landmark film maker

FEARLESS HYENA clearly wanted to capitalise on the success of DRUNKEN MASTER, and there is much in the training and fight sequences that recalls it. The plot ("He must fight one master and avenge the death of his own") is obviously reminiscent of every old school kung fu movie ever, but it's quite well realised here. Chan is the lazy grandson of a kung fu master who has been sworn never to practise his kung fu in front of others. Contrary to this, he ends up teaching in a school in the town, which draws the attention of bad guy extraordinaire Yen Shi Kwan (my personal hero), who has been on the trail of his father's clan for some time. Led to his grandfather, Yen Shi Kwan gives Chan cause for vengeance in the usual manner, upon which Chan must learn his clan's real skills from a crippled master called The Unicorn.

Much of the film is training and fighting, the plot being rather perfunctory. Chan seems to have been out to really prove himself in his first directorial role, and goes *all* out in both. The physical feats he performs are jaw-dropping, and the choreography some of the best I've ever seen. Incredibly long takes as Chan throws himself all over the screen in clever, intricate sequences and an endless array of fantastic moves. This is Chan doing pure kung fu at his very best, and my colleague and I were gasping at his performance throughout.

I don't know why the film is so rarely mentioned when Chan's work is discussed, as it stands perfectly well with other work from the period, and outside of DRUNKEN MASTER 2 it might contain his best martial arts performance. I guess the lack of a HK release is a big factor, so the Columbia Tristar disc should be celebrated. Whilst the picture is deeply bad, it at least has a decent sound mix, very good subtitles and is in full widescreen. Definitely the best you're likely to see it right now.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: SBates
Date: 02/03/2001
Summary: Absolutely Insane Fights!

I'm a JC fan since I was 12, and I really prefer these older movies to his later cop/stunt stuff. I really dig this movie, even though the dubbing and sync are among the worst ever, and JC gets a little heavy on the comedy bits.He uses a lot of devices he used later in Young Master, which is a more refined film. That said, I think JC's fight work in this movie is his best up until Project A. That fight he has with the three spearguys (Pang Kong is one, don't remember names of other two)is very, very well executed. It seems so improvised, so on-the-spot, as opposed to the stuff of Lau Ka-Leung, let's say, who's more classical. ** 3/4


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

I tend to disagree on this one. Too much humour.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Too much comedy for me, but the fight scenes are what grab you. Like I said, Jackie can choreograph with the best of them. Now if only there was some semblance of plot.....

(7.25/10)



[Reviewed by Dale Whitehouse]


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Chan witnesses the death of his grandfather and swears revenge. He trains under the Grasshopper and learns his clans style of Kung Fu. A fairly dull movie that is only compensated for in the last 15 minutes which contains a couple of terrific fights. I did not like this movie or perhaps it was the appalling dubbing.

(2/10)



[Reviewed by Dave Warner]


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Story of a martial artist and his quest for revenge for the murder of his grandfather. Set in the days of the Ching Dynasty but don't let that put you off, the film is actually well made and enjoyable. Followed by a sequel.

(3/5)



[Reviewed by Elliot's Guide to Films on Video]


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

This one is pretty good. Funny and good fighting sequence.

[Reviewed by Jay Fong]