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師弟出馬 (1980)
The Young Master

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 07/24/2009
Summary: Good early Jackie Chan

The comedic scenes haven't aged well, but the kung fu on display here is superb. Definitely a must-watch for any Jackie Chan fan.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 02/17/2007
Summary: ain't that a kick in the head...

lung (jackie chan) and tiger (wai pak), his older brother, are two orhans who have been raised and trained by master tien (tin fung), at his school. tiger is to represent tien's school in an annual lion dance, be he feins injury and, for a price, secretly represents a rival school. lung takes his place, but is shocked to find himself competing with his brother and loses.

when master tien discovers tiger's betrayal, he throws him out of the school in disgrace. however, after a plea from lung, tien agrees that tiger can come back, if only lung can find him. meanwhile, tiger has gone back to the rival school and gets involved in a plan to free master kam (whang in-shik), its imprisoned leader. things get worse for the brothers when tiger discovers that master kam is bad news, whilst lung, mistaken for his brother, finds himself in trouble with the law...

as well as being the star, 'the young master' was choreographed, written and directed by jackie chan. on the whole, jackie does a good job. still, the film's narrative suffers (apparently) as a result of the extemsive cuts that were required to reduce it to a watchable length, after chan's initial cut ran for nearly three hours. this is forgivable, though, as traces of jackie's signature stylings are present; touches of humour, drama and a healthy dose of complex, gymnastic action sequences.

chan does a good job, as does whang in-shik; who's introduction and final showdown, with jackie, are highlights of the film. yuen biao has a small role the son the local chief of police (sek kin), who probably outshines him, and lily li does some good work as his sister. these performances, along with the action sequences and some good comedic elements make for an engaging and fun film.

good stuff.

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 01/28/2007

Pleasant comedy with just enough action to hold even the interest of non-Chan fans. As always in films where Chan stars, the climactic fight is a ripper !

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 06/27/2006

Dragon (Jackie Chan) and Tiger (Wai Pak) are orphans raised by a Kung Fu master from a slightly dubious school. Tiger – for reasons never made clear – decides to help out the rival school by lion-dancing for them, and subsequently wins. The master finds out and Tiger is banished, eventually also leading to Dragon’s departure on a mission to find and bring back his wayward brother. Unfortunately, Tiger falls in with a bad (or, at least, badder) crowd, and helps the release of notorious criminal Kim (Whang In-Sik) – a crime that lands Dragon as the lead suspect. When he stumbles across the local Sheriff (Sek Gin) and his rebellious teenage son (Yuen Biao), things go from bad to worse!

YOUNG MASTER was Jackie’s debut for Golden Harvest (as a star, anyway) and he came to the studio with his contract with Lo Wei still in dispute. However, he doesn’t appear to have let those troubles get in the way of the filmmaking, as apparently the original cut of this film was close to three hours in length. You can certainly tell that parts have been removed, as there are continuity problems throughout, and you would think there were lots of scenes involving Wai Pak in the original print explaining his character. At the end, we’re no closer to figuring out why he went off the rails in the first place, and there’s certainly no redemption scene either.

According to Jackie himself, he became bigheaded and arrogant around this time, and this probably led to him biting off more than he could chew and trying to make an unwieldy epic. Also a cause of some concern amongst Golden Harvest bosses was his insistance on continuous retakes for the “fan-flipping” shot. He held the World Record for the number of takes needed to get it right (I think it was around 500) – a record that remained unbroken until he broke it himself during DRAGON LORD!

Problems aside, this was a solid start to his long tenure at Golden Harvest. The quality of the production seems positively opulent compared to the starkness of Lo Wei’s film company. Strangely, the first half hour of YOUNG MASTER is almost totally straight, with hardly any of the usual horseplay you’d expect from a Jackie Chan film. In fact, the scene leading to Dragon’s departure from the school is uncomfortably harrowing. Luckily, the tone is lightened considerably right after, and retains the mood throughout the rest of the film.

Korean Whang In-Sik is tremendous as the bad guy, and his introductory scene pulls out all the stops with under cranked kicks and wire-pulls and enough white powder flying about to make a supermodel turn green with envy. I hate to admit it, but he makes a better bad guy than Hwang Jang-Lee in SNAKE IN THE EAGLE’S SHADOW and DRUNKEN MASTER. Even without the heavy make-up, he’s unrecognisable as the guy from WAY OF THE DRAGON who was generally regarded as the weakest link. Also in support is the ever-popular Yuen Biao as the Sheriff’s “troubled” teenage son. If memory serves, this was the first time Yuen and Jackie had shared screen time together for any length of time, and he doesn’t disappoint, using his bench to good effect. The Sheriff himself is none other than Sek Gin, veteran of the old Wong Fei-Hung movies and of course, that “Han cat” from one of Bruce Lee’s movies (I forget which one ;) ). The two make a surprisingly good double act, and with Jackie also in attendance makes for some really memorable fun.

If this film were to have been made in the era of the DVD, we might perhaps have had a chance to see the original three-hour version of this film. Nowadays, it seems highly unlikely that any of the cut footage remains in existence. On that note, there seems to be nearly as many versions of this film as there are copies of it. My old VHS dub didn’t have the “Beggar So” and Jackie’s skirt-fighting scene in it for example. No great loss, really, as it tends to be a rehash of a scene from FEARLESS HYENA. In fact, I thought I saw this scene incorporated into the FEARLESS HYENA 2 footage, and now that I think about it, that doesn’t seem all that unlikely.

The finale with Jackie versus Whang In-Sik is fantastic. I know that it’s all make-believe, but the scenes where Whang is torturing Jackie by twisting his fingers and so on looks absolutely agonising. Breaking the mould somewhat, Jackie doesn’t train to beat Master Kim, he wins by sheer staying power – helped by some “pipe water”, whatever that is (a similar ending would be used much later in the film DRUNKEN MASTER 2).

All in all, this is a good, if not entirely great film. Some great fights, some good comedy (the goldfish sight-gag had me in stitches when I first saw it) and, for once, some decent production values. Jackie left Hong Kong to do BATTLECREEK BRAWL next, an experience that humbled him somewhat.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Masterofoneinchpunch
Date: 04/05/2005

Jackie Chan had already established himself in Hong Kong as a box office champion with 1978's Drunken Master and 1979's Fearless Hyena, but he was not getting his fiscal due from Lo Wei Productions. So he opted out of his contract with Lo Wei and was hired by Golden Harvest. The Young Master was his first picture under that studio. The film was interrupted several times because of the contract dispute with Lo and a Triad that wanted a stake in Jackie's fortune. This was eventually settled with help by Jimmy Wang Yu whom Jackie would owe (along many other actors) several favors. Even with all this chaos, Jackie was still able to create a memorable and must-have film, though the movie is marked by continuity problems.

Jackie stars as Ah Lung a mediocre student (funny he doesn't seem so in the film and that point is soon forgotten) who loses in a beautifully choreographed lion dance competition because his fellow adopted brother Jing Keung (Wei Pei), faked an injury and competed incognito for the Wei Yee school. Lung and Keung's sifu Master Tien soon finds out of this deception and this betrayal leads to Keung leaving the school. After an impassioned plea from Lung, Tien gives Lung his blessing to find his brother. Jackie takes his big white fan (important plot point.) Jing looks for work at the Wei Yee school, but is turned down when he is found to have helped the Wei Yee school win the Lion Dance competition. He is then recruited with two others, including Fung Hark-On (aka Fung Ke-An who was the martial arts consultant with Jackie) who has a large mole on his face ? reminiscent of Jackie's mole in Police Woman, to free Master Kim (Hapkido expert Whang In Shik.) Jing uses his big white fan to help Kim escape. So Ah would later be mistaken for his brother and sought after by the local police inspector and his son (played by Hong Kong regulars Shih Kien and Yuen Biao.) This would lead up to an awesome fight scene between two of the Seven Little Fortunes, Yuen and Jackie. Yuen would expertly use a bench and you get to see Jackie use a pole again.

Even with the continuity problems (even admitted by Jackie, including one scene where Jackie is fettered and the next he is not) and the overuse of sped-up footage and zoom shots (including one that is parodied in Kung Pow), this is a fun film to watch.. The high points of this movie are the Cantonese comedy and the sublime martial art scenes. In those fight scenes you get to see him use many props such as sword, pole, bench and even a skirt, a skill he learns from his encounter with the Police Chief's daughter played by Lily Li. The high point of the film is a showdown that involves an 18-minute plus scene between Jackie and Whang (Jackie in his autobiography "I Am Jackie Chan" considers this his ninth best fight scene.) I do not want to describe this sagacious scene too much, because it has to be seen. I will say that I have never seen Jackie get beat up so much in any other movie and most of it is shot with wide-angle lenses with few cuts. Even his solution to winning is unique.

This movie is a must buy for Jackie Chan or Hong Kong film fans. The most important decision in buying this film on DVD is what label/version you purchase. There are many shorter versions out there, even several that are widescreen, but the scenes that are taken out are mostly from the action scenes! But, Fortune Star puts out a 106 minute version that is digitally remastered and has the Cantonese (along with dubbed version) audio. Though there is one caveat, many of the cheaper versions have a huge benefit that the Fortune Star DVD does not ? Jackie Chan singing in English at the end of the film. Even without that benefit the Fortune Star release is by far the best version of an excellent Jackie Chan film.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 05/02/2003
Summary: Lots of fun, very skillful fights!

This has got to be one of the most technical films in terms of Kung Fu ever made. The first scene of a Lion dancing competition is gripping and jaw dropping. You'll be absorbed into Jackie's famous fan fight! Overall, the story is funny and situations interesting. Not quite as good as Drunken Master but almost! Well worth seeing.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/13/2002
Summary: CLASSIC

In my opinion, this is one of Jackies best, as far as kung fu at least anyway. 100 times better than Dragon Lord which was made at the same time, and very close to as good as Drunken Master. The beginning scenes of the Lion Dancing does make it seem like this is going to disapoint, because it lasts a while. BUT, after this is just gets better and better. A real classic in my eyes, even the English dubbed version is quite enjoyable, which is how I first watched it 10 years ago I think it was. But you can pick up the original Chinese version on DVD for less than $10.


Rating: 5/5

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

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 09/10/2001
Summary: Excellent kung fu movie

One of Jackie Chan's early films, and the second in which he directs himself. I'd seen this a couple of times years ago, but only dubbed. At the time I really didn't enjoy it much, but I figured I'd pick up the DVD and see how it played widescreen & subtitled. Either it makes a hell of a lot of difference or I'm just much more aware of Jackie's talents these days, because I enjoyed it immensely.

The film opens (more or less) with a lion dance competition that features some extraoardinary work that makes Wong Fei Hung's dance on the ship cables in OUATIC look decidedly pedestrian. The competition for the prize is quite gripping, and the skills on display are remarkable.

The plot is fairly standard but well developed and directed, and provides numerous showcases for Jackie's kung fu skills. The choreography is inventive and the execution superb - I personally really enjoyed Jackie taking on a group of bumbling law enforcers carrying swords, running them in circles and disarming them with moves too fast to see. Must watch it again to see exactly how he ends up holding their swords against them. The final fight must last for at least 20 minutes, and is brutal... Jackie takes a serious pounding at the hands of the arch-villain, but keeps coming back for more and getting madder and madder until finally he starts winning by sheer bloody mindedness.

I thought I'd probably enjoy it a lot more now than when I first saw it, but I was surprised just how much more.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/05/2001
Summary: Ummm..........

Yeah old and a bit boring. You can see where Jackie starts developing his own style of movies in this!! Yuen Biao was good in a support cast. The comedy was funny, but the action seemed slow!! The action at the last fight lasts like 10 minutes!! A ok movie to watch since it is so old..........


Reviewed by: dragyn
Date: 03/24/2001
Summary: The Young Master Indeed

"The Young Master" is a classic vintage Kung Fu movie, but the presence of Chan puts an unusual twist on the genre, adding more comedy and drama than is the norm.

This film is really two movies in one: the first half is an intense, angst-ridden drama, while then second is a sunny Kung Fu comedy.

As is usual with most Kung Fu movies, the best thing is not to think too much and just sit back and enjoy the show. And what a show Chan makes it! Every fight in the movie is breath-taking, particularly the fight in which Chan flips and throws an ornamentail Chinese fan, using it effortlessly as both defense and weapon, and the comic encounters between Chan and his opera school "brother", Yuen Biao.

It is interesting to note that while Chan began filming "The Young Master" with a traditional, stylised approach, by the time he got around to shooting the end fight with Wang Inn Sikk, he had begun to choreograph much looser, more natural and less traditional fights. This experimentation led to what we now take for granted in any of Jackie Chan's more recent movies: free, easy, natural, realistic fights that contrast strongly with the stylised, slow fights that he filmed up until "The Young Master".

The end fight in "The Young Master" is extraordinary - Chan pits himself against Korean fighter Wang Inn Sikk once more, and this time he takes as much punishment as he gives. He hits the floor countless times during the twenty-minute long fight extravaganza, and keeps coming back for more. He is truly elastic and rubbery next to Wang Inn Sikk's harder, more-grounded action.

A really classic Kung Fu movie - in my opinion, it is one of the best purely Kung Fu movies that Chan made before he moved on to make his cop and robber flicks. The end fight is really worth it, if only for its sheer length.


Reviewed by: Fhrx
Date: 04/01/2000
Summary: A good early Jackie Chan effort...

Jackie Chan stars as a young student of a martial arts school in Canton during the Ching Dynasty time period. When his older brother leaves the school and hangs around with the wrong group of people and begins to pursue a life of crime, aiding in the escape of a infamous criminal, he attracts the attention of the locals law enforcers.

Jackie is somehow mistaken for being his brother in the fray and must clear his own name and his brothers by capturing the criminal and bringing him to justice. The young master is not a bad story and the action is quite good as well.

Jackie often displays his ability to move with extreme agility and my, can he take a beating too. He often gets thrown around and lands quite hard on the ground at times too.

The fight scenes are very good and while the last one is a great effort by all those taking part, I though it was a bit unrealistic that Jackie gets so beaten up before he fights back. Call me cynical, but as a fellow Wing Chun practitioner myself, I know that human body’s very rarely take that much punishment before they give in.

None the less, The young master contains some very fancy choreography and some very entertaining fight scenes. Yuen Biao makes an appearance as the son of the local law enforcer, having a couple of bouts with Jackie using the wooden horses.

Jackie also takes on a group of local law officers, using two swords with great skill and his Lion dance at the start is quite impressive too.

All up, not a bad effort at all.

I give The young master 7.5/10.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Chan and his brother leave their master and the gym where they have grown up at. His brother gets mixed up with the rival gym's act ivies and becomes a wanted man. Chan gets mistaken as his brother and gets apprehended. He must then not only prove his own innocence but must also clear his brothers name by capturing the leader of the bad guys in an epic fight. A good film with Biao playing a small role as the son of a cop who gets to fight against Chan. A fair amount of laughs as well.


[Reviewed by Dave Warner]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

A man tries to prevent his best friend from leadinga life of crime and in the process finds himself on the wrong side the of law. He is now obliged to clear his name and bring the real criminals to justice.


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