King of Beggars (1992)

Posted in Reviews by - July 15, 2015
King of Beggars (1992)

Stephen Chow’s first period-set comedy went up against Police Story 3 at the Hong Kong box office and smashed it convincingly. He plays the privileged idiot son of a Ching dynasty general who falls immediately in love with Sharla Cheung, who has been working undercover as a prostitute to lure out the evil Mr Chiu (Norman Chu), a Manchurian magician determined to kill the Emperor and put his own evil cult in power. In order to win her heart, Chow embarks on a quest to win a nationwide martial arts competition. But he is found to have cheated on the literacy test due to an inability to write, and as a consequence, Chow and his father are stripped of their wealth and forced onto the streets. Now the film slows down and what develops is quite a touching bond between the destitute father and son, and observations on their ill-treatment at the hands of the law and the public.

Yuen Cheung-yan’s wire-fu action scenes are reminiscent of Ching Siu-tung’s work in A Chinese Ghost Story and Duel to the Death (thanks in no small part to the presence of Norman Chu). But the film’s irreverence is purely a Yuen clan tradition, particularly the fantastic Sleeping Disciple’s Fist style, which is the sort of gag the Yuen Woo-ping would have made in the 1970s. The broad performances are all great with jokes which work beyond the more obvious slapstick, and executed with added authenticity by the superbly deadpan Stephen Chow.

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