Action Movie Fanatix Review: The Young Master

The Young Master banner

Starring: Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao, Wei Pai, Whang In Shik, Shih Kien, Fung Ke An

Martial Arts Consultants: Jackie Chan, Fung Ke An

Director: Jackie Chan

1980  |  106 Minutes  |  PG-13

“You’re not very stable for a fat man, are you?” – Ching Loong

I have owned multiple copies of The Young Master and yet, have never gotten around to actually sitting down and watching it.  I love Jackie Chan.  I don’t know why I couldn’t pull myself to watch it.  I probably thought it would feel too much like it was early in his career.  Like I’d be making excuses for him the whole time.  Well, rest assured, I felt no need to make excuses.

Orphans Ching Loong (Jackie Chan) and his brother Cheung Keung (Wei Pai) are taken in and trained by a respected kung fu instructor.  When Cheng accepts a bribe from a rival school to throw the annual lion dance competition, he is expelled and begins a life of crime.  Ching leaves the school to find his brother but is mistaken for him and arrested.

The Young Master starts with a riveting lion dance competition.  The choreography is amazing here.  I don’t understand what the rules of this contest are but I was enthralled with what was happening.

After the lion dance the movie slows way down for a bit.  Probably about 25 minutes or so.  The 25 minute “break” is really the only downfall The Young Master has going against it because as soon as that 25 minutes is up, it is basically one fight after another after another.  Each fight is unique – fists, feet, swords, poles, young guys, old guys, drunk guys, guys in skirts and even girls get involved.  The real stand out fight of the movie, though, is between Jackie Chan and a bench swinging Yuen Biao… shocking… I know.  These two masters of their craft do it again.

The final scene is a near 20 minute exchange between Jackie and Whang In Shik.  I have read that Jackie considers it to be his ninth greatest fight of all time.  It’s quite good but I honestly enjoyed his fight with Biao from earlier in the film to be more entertaining.

The story is original, I suppose but it’s pretty thin.  Any fan of martial arts films probably knows by now that it is most safe to expect little to no story from their kung fu films and if you get something deep and original, then consider it a bonus.

There is less of Jackie’s trademark stunt work and humor but the martial arts are top notch.  The Young Master is probably one of my favorite Jackie Chan movies I have ever seen… now that I have finally seen it.  If for some reason you have let The Young Master pass you by, it’s time to seek out a copy and give it a go.  You won’t be disappointed.

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