Prodigal Son (1982)

Two types of martial arts movies are “in” these days. The high-flying sword plays wuxia and the raw and raw type of Shaw Brothers. “Prodigal son” is not. That’s because it’s from Golden Harvest Studios, the best film studio in Hong Kong. A martial arts movie from Golden Harvest Studios means little to no high-flying stunts, but pure and fantastic martial arts action. With a bit of comedy and history to a large extent. They made a fortune going against the grain, taking risks and ensuring quality. Something that Shaw Brothers hadn’t done in a long time. They did a lot of classics, but “Prodigal Son” really is something special.

An arrogant young fighter named Leung Jaan loves to fight and prides himself on his martial arts skills. Little does he know, his rich dad is paying people to lose so his only son doesn’t get hurt. But things take a turn for the worse when a true kung fu master challenges him and exposes his secret. In no time he is caught up in the crazy and dangerous world of martial arts.

This is the second film that Sammo has directed about Leung Jaan, the true master of Wing Chun Kung Fu. The first, “Warriors Two,” shows Master Leung as an older man, while Prodigal Son deals with his days as a spoiled young man seeking to be a great martial arts fighter. Wing Chun has never been used as the basis for a Kung Fu movie before because it is a fighting style that relies on inner strength, keeps feet firmly on the ground, and uses many close combat moves that many filmmakers even The risk takers at Golden Harvest believed it just wouldn’t work on the movie screen. In short, it was not elegant enough. But Sammo knew otherwise and made two films that manage to show everyone that the real, visceral skill of Kung Fu can be as exciting and graceful as any other type of fighting on screen. Although “Warriors Two” breaks new ground in terms of action with excellent choreography, “Prodigal Son” is simply better in every way, not just as a martial arts movie, but also as an engaging and entertaining movie.

Leung Jaan is played by Yeun Biao, which, considering his fame for his high-flying stunts, was quite a bold decision. But since he and Sammo trained together for years at Master Yu Jin Yeun’s opera academy, the director knew exactly what his protagonist was capable of and what kind of resistance he could withstand. However, Yeun Biao’s acting is unsurpassed by her martial arts prowess and she does a wonderful job of playing the spoiled brat who gains discipline and respect. However, with all of Yeun Biao’s fighting and acting prowess and all of Sammo’s prowess as a director and choreographer (and actor in a hilarious extended cameo), this film truly belongs to the late and great Lam Ching Ying as Leung’s teacher. Jaan, Lung Yee Tai. A favorite of many Hong Kong action film fans, particularly for this performance alone, Lam Ching Ying is a blast to watch. A student at Madame Fong Fak Fa’s opera academy, Lam played many female roles on the Cantonese opera stage due to her slender build and graceful acrobatic skill. This made him the perfect choice to play a Wing Chun master. Especially one who, in this film, is a member of a traveling opera company and plays the lead female roles in their performances. However, he is not a softie when it comes time to fight and shows incredible technique every time he is challenged. Like Yeun Biao, Lam Ching Ying not only displays his dazzling style of action here, but also puts on a great show by playing the secretive and humble martial arts master with an occasional flash of comedy that really brings the character up and down. ladies. than one dimension. I can’t say enough good things about Lam’s performance. It’s a great example of why Hong Kong action movies will always be better than American ones. Hong Kong has martial arts ACTORS, not martial arts experts trying to act in a movie. Lam Ching Ying was one of the best actors in Hong Kong and this movie really shows it.

Do yourself a favor and watch this movie. If you like Kung Fu cinema it is essential to see it, but if you do not like it, I insist on taking a look at this film. Okay, some humor won’t translate to western viewers. Also some of the historical references may require a quick Google. But if you approach “Prodigal Son” and others like it with an open mind and are willing to accept the cultural differences between Hong Kong and other foreign films, you will experience something new, different and exciting. A new world of fantastic and unique cinema will open up to you, and “Prodigal Son” is an excellent place to start.

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