Kung Fu Jungle (2014)

Posted in Reviews by - November 18, 2015
Kung Fu Jungle (2014)

In shades of Silence of the Lambs, convicted murderer Donnie Yen is sprung from prison three years into a five year jail term to help no-nonsense homicide detective Charlie Yeung get into the deranged mindset of kung fu serial killer Wang Bao-qiang, who has flipped his lid and started bumping off rival martial arts masters. It takes an obvious suspension of logic to go along with the film’s barely conceivable premise, and Teddy Chan does brilliantly well to keep the tension palpable despite the absurdities in the plot. It’s the sort of story you would find in just about any chopsocky film made in the 1970s, and the long list of cameos from former Hong Kong action heroes support a similarly nostalgic notion: there’s Yuen Cheung-yan, Mang Hoi and Tsui Siu-ming. At one point, David Chiang serves street food to Raymond Chow as a Lau Kar-leung film plays in the background. Even Jackie Chan appears, albeit in an incongruously placed excerpt from Drunken Master. This self-conscious homage to “the fine tradition of Hong Kong action cinema” (these are the words used in the dedication over the film’s closing credits) acts to distort the narrative, although it’s probably fair to assume that any kung fu movie buff will doubtlessly cherish these asides. The film performs well as a tribute to Hong Kong itself, celebrating the city as well as its celebrities. From the hustle of Tsim Tsa Tsui to the urban sprawl of Mong Kok and the house boats of Kowloon Bay, the film neatly alters location with every action set piece. These scenes make up the most enjoyable parts of the film and are stylistically more in keeping with those great, straight-laced Donnie Yen head kickers like SPL and Special ID, before the film culminates in a blistering altercation involving giant bamboo poles and huge trucks zooming past on a busy Hong Kong freeway.

AKA: Kung Fu KillerLast of the Best.

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