點止功夫咁簡單
Half a Loaf of Kung Fu (1978)


Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 12/20/2008

After the death of Bruce Lee in 1973, Hong Kong producers began scrambling to find his successor. One of the more promising heirs to the throne was a young Jackie Chan, who at least seemed to have some impressive kung fu moves down. But Chan's personality didn't fit in with the more hard-edged style espoused by Lee, and so Jackie's first few films such as New Fist of Fury were outright flops.

Exasperated and still desperate to find his next new big star, producer Lo Wei allowed Chan to take creative control of his next project. Chan had long been intrigued by the notion of incorporating comedy with kung fu, and the local audience's desire to see something different in martial arts films made this a perfect opportunity for Chan to see if his ideas would work.

The results here, unfortunately, pretty much fall flat. The comedy is clumsy and far too broad, relying on obvious overcranking, musical cues stolen wholesale from cartoons such as "Popeye", and boring toilet humor. Overall, Half a Loaf of Kung Fu seems like an experiment gone wrong, with Chan throwing everything at the viewer with very middling results. When gears switch to a more traditional mode during the final act, the film does pull itself out of the depths of cinematic ineptitude, but by then, most people will have lost interest.

Of course, Chan would find success in the comedy kung fu genre later the same year with the classic Drunken Master, which begs the question: what the hell happened here? Chan himself has admitted that Half a Loaf of Kung Fu was a sort of practical joke that he pulled on Lo Wei, a person whom he did not get along with at all.

The big problem with that type of film-making is that if you're creating something just to please one person (especially if it is yourself) you're most likely going to alienate the viewer in the process. Half a Loaf of Kung Fu is an entry for Jackie Chan completists only - and even they should approach this production with a bit of caution, or perhaps a nice six-pack.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 03/11/2007
Summary: Not that bad.

I think Jackie Chan plays a bit of an alien in this one. His character seems to have no past and no real aim or objective. Mind you, he comes off quite well when viewed against everyone else in the film, who all appear to have escaped from a special hospital. There is some semblance of a story involving “Evergreen Jade” and “Soul Pills”, but it’s all very circumstantial. To get things moving along, the film contrives to have Jackie accidentally help kill a famous Kung Fu hero while he’s confronting a villain. He then takes on the identity of the deceased hero in order to claim the reward. Obviously, he later discovers that stealing someone’s identity is not such a great idea, especially when you know no martial arts whatsoever!

I have to buck the trend yet again with my opinion of this film. However, it’s mostly due to a big case of nostalgia – this was one of the first Hong Kong movies I saw, and everything was fresh and exciting to me, and now reminds me of a time in my life when things were much simpler. It was also my very first “period” martial arts film, and I found it all quite exotic with all the Taiwanese locations and unfamiliar costumes.

I remember being shocked at the primitiveness of the film, and to be honest, even judged against some other low budget films from this era, HALF A LOAF OF KUNG FU does not come off very well at all. Obviously, the title sequence references went completely over my head at the time. Nowadays, I understand the parodies and find them quite amusing – so much so that like many people I find the sequence the highlight of the movie - but back then I remember thinking “I hope the whole film isn’t like this”!

Like DRAGON LORD that followed a few years later, HALF A LOAF OF KUNG FU has a non-fighter as the main character. Even at the end, he’s not an expert, though he does learn a few moves from the student of the Beggar Master (I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be Beggar So or not – the only time he’s referred to by name, the VCD subtitle goes off the edge of the screen. D’oh!). The student is played by Dean Shek, and he pretty much plays the character the same as every other around this period, only with fart gags thrown in as well.

It had been about ten years since I last saw this film, and I was pleasantly surprised that I found so much of it still amusing. More so than superior flicks such as FEARLESS HYENA, for example. The scene where Jackie interferes with the real Whip Hero’s arrest of the villain is pretty damn funny still. Other scenes probably seemed like a good idea but didn’t work out as well as intended – the dream realm is the one place Jackie can really fight, and in a dream sequence we see him showing his stuff briefly. However, it does degenerate into a sped-up parody of Popeye when Jackie spies some spinach growing on the ground. Other scenes are reminiscent of Buster Keaton, such as the egg throwing at the big bully.

In fact, the whole film is very episodic and fragmented. The action sequences don’t help either, being mainly forgettable. But it still has some fun parts and can be an enjoyable viewing experience. I mean, I used to watch this film on a weekly basis, and apart from a permanent twitch on the left side of my face and long dark hair growing on the palms of my hands, it hasn’t done ME any harm.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 03/05/2006
Summary: Disappointing...

As with most early Jackie Chan movies, the focus of Half a Loaf of Kung Fu is not on dialogue and story, but on exciting fight scenes. Unfortunately, this movie falls way short in both categories. The writing, although probably not very good even in it's original language is made even worse with poor dubbing. The fight scenes are short and not very inspiring, and look poorly choreographed. This is particularly disappointing considering that Drunken Master, one of Chan's best early movies was made just a year before. However, Jackie had Yuen Woo-ping behind the camera for Drunken Master, which lent to its great fight scenes. All in all, Half a Loaf of Kung Fu is a rather poor movie, and should be avoided except for hardcore Chan fans.

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: Masterofoneinchpunch
Date: 04/11/2005

Frustrated by the weak box office returns of New Fist of Fury and Shaolin Wooden Men, Lo Wei gave Jackie Chan creative control over the slapstick comedy Half a Loaf of Kung Fu. With Chan's friend Chen Chi-hwa as director (Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin), Jackie wanted to make a film that was the antithesis of the current martial art dramas that were being shown. Jackie called this movie a "ninety-minute-long practical joke," but Lo failed to find the humor and decided to vault this film and created his own comedy for Jackie the insipid Spiritual Kung Fu. Half a Loaf of Kung Fu would remain unwatched until 1980.

One of the most interesting segments of the film is the beginning which parodies the normal use (at that time) of the main actors showcasing their martial-art ability. He spoofs the Zatochi series, he tries to catch arrows but fails and there is a great scene that has him using a fighting dummy for practice only the have the camera pan away to reveal a mini dummy. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is not as inventive as the starting sequence, though there are many good scenes. The problem is that the plot is not that different from many other films that Lo Wei has done.

Jackie plays Gon Tou, a wandering hungry man in search of a job. He eventually gets a housekeeper position for Mr. Man who houses the witch Lady Mui. He spies on her while she was doing a poison experiment, inadvertently gets his new friend San killed and narrowly flees. After his escape he came across a fight between Se Tai Chung and Lao Yung Lung ? the man with the whip. This battle resulted in the death of both and Gon assumed the identity of Master Lao to collect the bounty on Chung. Now Gon is mistaken for a man with fighting skills even though his combatant acumen is very small. He gets beat up quite a bit.

He stumbles across a flatulent beggar (Dean Shek) who teaches Jackie such moves as "Lady Draws Arrow" and the ever impressive "One Finger Stops Mountain" (guess which finger.) Dean is funny in this Cantonese comedic role. Gon is then helped by nother beggar (Lee Man Tai) who prevents Lady Mui from killing him. At first the beggar does not want to help Gon anymore, but he acquiesces and will help him if he takes something to Fong Wan. He later meets him at Fung Yu's Stone House with his daughter (Doris Lung) and friend (James Tien.) Together they are protecting the "Thousand Year Jake", which cures any poison, and "Potion of new Life" which is the fountain of youth. Since these are so powerful and priceless many criminals such as Lady Mui, Iron Hand Lui and The Man of a Thousand Faces (Kam Kong) want these. Gon helps Fong while learning more and more Kung Fu.

The plot is a bit chaotic and it ultimately fails as a spoof because so many martial art films have had plots much more ridiculous then this movie. But, it is an important film in Jackie's career because it is a turn from the grim-faced stoic hero that Lo wanted him to be. It is also a funny film with many inventive, though sometimes broad, scenes such as a dream sequence with Jackie becoming Popeye or Jackie reading a manual while fighting. It is also hilarious when Jackie knows that the flatulent beggar is approaching before we even see him. There is also a great reference to Bruce Lee when Jackie uses a wig as nunchucks while making Bruce-like sounds.

The fighting of the film is much more traditional, with the exception of the nunchuck wig, than Jackie's later films. But there are some good shots, especially the ten-minute ending fight scene. There is also a nice teaming of Dean and Jackie towards the end that was fun to watch. Overall, I like the film. It was better than the early Jackie Chan movies, though not as good as his later films. If you are a Jackie Chan film and have not seen it, then there is a good chance you will like it -- as long as you like flatulent beggars and goofy plots.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: AS BAD AS THEY GET!

There is not much to say about this movie, except DON'T WATCH it, even if you are a big Jackie Chan fan. This is supposed to be a comedy gung fu movie, but I don't think I laughed at all, except at the terrible acting of everyone in it.

Out of the hundreds and hundreds of kung fu movies a lot of them are total rubbish anyway, and this is certainly one of them. It seemed to last about 5 hours when I first watched it, because it was so boring.

Rating (of 5): 1

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


Reviewed by: Chuma
Date: 07/12/2000
Summary: Jackie Chan, before he was famous

Yes, I know this movie is really old and the only copies you will
be able to find will probably be dubbed, but it's worth it.

In this film, Jackie plays a hapless martial arts student who is
always being picked on by his master and accosted by a strange
wandering man who wants to teach him different fighting methods.

From what I remember of the plot, Jackie's character joins up with
a party whose job is to protect a sacred relic from bands of roving
bandits, with much fighting ensuing.

This film would really probably interest Jackie Chan fans than anyone
else, since it was only realeased after Jackie's manager saw that
he was becoming popular and wanted to raise his profile more
(it sat on the shelves for ages because his boss didn't like it).

It was also one of the very first films that Jackie had a large
hand in making himself along with one of his friends (thanks to
'I am Jackie Chan' for that.)

Rating : Unseen Jackie Chan (7/10)


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

This has to be one of Jackie's worst ever. Total bullshit.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Couldn't watch past the first 10 minutes. A very bad attempt at campy fight scenes that makes Robin Williams' "Popeye" look sophisticated.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Comedy martial arts film in which a group of bodyguards entrusted with the safe delivery of a jade treasure, find themselves heavily outnumbered by bandits.

(3/5)



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