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My Young Auntie

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 05/17/2009
Summary: Fun but uneven...

My Young Auntie, for which star Kara Hui won the best actress award in the inaugural Hong Kong Film Awards, is more of a comedy driven piece than a martial arts film, that is until the last third or so. The first two thirds are dedicated to the interaction of "bumpkin" Dai Nan (the gorgeous Hui) with overseas educated "Charlie" (Hsiao Ho). This results in a fair amount of verbal sparring and word play between English and phonetic similarities in Cantonese. Patriarch Jing Chuen (Liu Chia-Liang) stays out of the way for the most part until his expertise is needed in the end to deal with the evil Uncle Yu (Johnny Wang). Although My Young Auntie is an enjoyable film, much of it seems to over-the-top in terms of acting and the situations people find themselves in. Kara Hui deserves every accolade she received for this role as she moves between emotions of pride, humiliation and anger with ease. She does a very good job as a fish-out-of-water; someone from a traditional culture in the country being thrown into city life and having to deal with a new way of thinking. Hsiao Ho is good, but his character grated on me after awhile. He uses a distracting combination of English and Cantonese that gets to be a bit confusing and annoying. He also hams it up for the camera and as mentioned in another review, seems to be very similar to a Yuen Biao character in Jackie Chan's string of hits. Lots of exaggerated facial expressions and such. That being said however, the final 40 minutes of the movie, for a kung fu fanatic, are about as good as they come. Hui seems to fade from the picture a bit toward the end, but Chia-Liang and Hsiao match fist for fist with Johnny Wang, Yuen Tak and a host of baddies in an fantastic battle royale. Throw in for good measure battles with the incomparable Wilson Tong and strongman Kwan Yung-Moon and you'll be sitting on the edge of your seat throughout. Overall a somewhat uneven movie... at its worst it's slapstick and a bit tedious, but at its best it's fresh, exhilarating and top-notch.


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 06/19/2007

After its' premiere in 1981, My Young Auntie was a huge success, both with critics and audiences. Its' star Kara Hui went on to become the first female star of a kung fu movie to win a Hong Kong Film Award, and she earned the nickname of "Auntie" (a term of repect in Chinese culture), which she maintains to this day. My Young Auntie is also regarded as one of director Lau Kar-Leung's strongest movies and one of the pinnacles of the kung fu comedy genre.

Unfortunately, time has taken off a bit of the sheen of My Young Auntie. The broad comedy, which includes cartoonish musical cues and seemingly endless mugging for the camera, is very hit-or-miss. It's pretty obvious that Lau was trying to emulate the success of the Cantonese comedies of the Hui brothers, with a menu that features puns, pop culture references, and musical parodies. But nothing ever seem to really gel. A big reason of this goes to Kara Hui. She's likeable enough, but the character feels woefully underwritten and underdeveloped -- which is surprising, since the role was created especially for her by Lau Kar-Leung.

However, any misgivings a viewer might have about the story or comedy are forgiven by the fight sequences, which -- as you might expect from Lau Kar-Leung -- are very exciting. There's nothing particularly inventive about them (except for perhaps a seemingly invincible bad guy with some very vulnerable armpits), but they are all done well. In particular, the last forty minutes or so of the movie is almost wall-to-wall action, and definitely shows why many people think the "old school" kung fu movies are some of the best ever created.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 11/24/2006

“My Young Auntie” is an energetic action comedy that is full of delightful characters, none more so than Jing Dai Nan played to perfection by Kara Hui. Hui manages to be loving, imperious, tough as nails and fiercely loyal and make it look natural—and her kung fu is better than most. There is plenty of interesting thematic material including the effects of Western culture on China in the early part of the last century, how seemingly inviolate family traditions can be used or misused and how different generations of a family approach their obligations. It is intriguing to see the almost obsequious show of respect by Yu Jing Cheun for his auntie. Even if she is much younger than he, she is still his uncle’s widow and therefore entitled to all the rights and privileges of the senior member of the family. And Dai Nan takes his deference as no more than her due—in her world as in his it is simply what one expects. This changes of course when the next generation of the Yu clan, Cheun’s son, arrives.

We first encounter Dai Nan as a trusted servant to the dying patriarch of an extended southern Chinese family. She marries her employer to keep the family fortune from falling into the hands of the evil Yu Yung Sheng. It is obvious from the very first that Yu Yung Sheng is not someone who should inherit—he urges his older brother to hurry up with his dying so that he can get on with disposing of his legacy. Later on we discover that he uses his kung fu to bully people, so he is a dastardly person indeed.

Jing Dai Nan, deeds to the property in hand, travels to the home of her nephew, Yu Jing Chuen who is a generation or so older than she. There she encounters her grandnephew, Yu Tao who has become so westernized (or effete) that he now calls himself Charlie. Charlie thinks that Jing is a country mouse who has come to the city while Jing thinks that Charlie is a lazy poseur with no future. Each of them are both correct and incorrect in how they see the other which is the basis for much of the conflict that propels the story.

One excellent bit happens when Dai Nan goes shopping. She winds up tottering about on her first pair of high heels and wearing a skirt that is slit far enough up the side seams to be immodest—especially since she runs into a bad of toughs. Every time she launches a kick she has to stop and pull her skirt back together. Another situation, one that has more of vicious edge to it, is when Charlie and his school buddies decide to “teach Auntie how to dance”. They surround her, pushing her back and forth between themselves—what she does learn is completely inappropriate and ridiculous for the masquerade ball that evening.

Hui and Hsiao Ho as Charlie engage in a lot of well written and well acted aversion/attraction, avoidance/response, push/pull byplay with both of them testing the limits of their odd relationship. One scene in which Charlie tries to catch a glimpse of Dai Nan while she is getting dressed while pretending to help his father hang a banner shows how Charlie, for all his Western cool or Chinese reticence is still a young man very aware of just how desirable his great aunt is. While they are trying to figure out how to deal with each other, reality in the form of the evil Ah Tak, godson of Third Uncle Yu shows up. He firmly believes the inheritance should be his and has brought along some muscle to make sure everyone agrees with him. They almost carry the day by simply stealing the deed to the family property.

“My Young Auntie” is almost a classic. It falls short because the energetic and charismatic Karla Hui is essentially left behind during the last couple of reels. A rag tag bunch of uncles, all quite elderly, are the ones who break into Ah Tak’s place to regain the deed and set matters right. There are some funny scenes as Dai Nan tries to train the old men into a credible fighting force but they are no substitute for what the audience has been waiting for, the lovely and deadly Dai Nan upholding the family honor by defeating the evil Third Uncle.


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 09/18/2004
Summary: Above average

I agree with what Mr booth says about this movie but overall i wasn't so impressed. The comedy is not as funny as it should be and the middle part of the movie seems to drag and it feels like it was there just to make up the time.

the action is always good with a Liu Chia Liang movie but that doesn't make it a classic


Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 06/24/2004
Summary: A blast, really good...

Brilliant, what a blast, loved it. Yes it is very silly in places, but it is always genuinely funny with excellent fight scenes. I'd say only the very best late 70's/early 80's Kung Fu comedies (Drunken Master/Magnificent Butcher/Prodigal Son) are marginally better than this. A must own.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 05/22/2004

****MY YOUNG AUNTIE: An above average storyline is bogged down a little by some slightly irritating characters and occasionally embarrassing costumes/wigs, but then entirely brought back up by the numerous fight scenes. The last 40 minutes is almost non-stop fighting, with exceptional choreography and skill from the performers - kung fu doesn't get much better than this

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: CaptainAmerica
Date: 06/14/2002
Summary: Auntie tears it up!

I've looked for this film for a while now, and I finally got to see it this week. My final opinion: Kara Hui deserved the award she won for her performance in this movie, without a doubt! However, Lau Kar Leung (because of Shaw execs) put as much focus on goofy comedy as he does on Kara and his requisite spectacular martial arts action. All things considered, I'd say this movie deserves its classic status!

The action starts when a rich man weds one of his young servants (Kara Hui)...he has deep motive behind this: first, to make her effectively the head of the family; second, so she can obey his final request to bequeath his deeds and will to his third brother (Lau Kar Leung) in order to foil the plans of another evil brother (Wang Lung Wei), who greedily covets his dying brother's estate. After her new husband passes away, Kara's character travels to Canton to do her duty and give the personal effects to the upright brother...but runs into complications with his westernized (more like cosmopolitan) son -- and her new grandnephew, in spite of the fact they're almost the same age! -- Charlie (Hsiao Ho).

Kara Hui is the center of this film, and rightfully so, in her first major leading role...BUT (and that's a heavy but!) there are times in this film when the focus shifts from her to goofy comedy (the masquerade dance for the most part being the most time-consuming). Hsiao Ho doesn't help much: he struck me as being very much like Yuen Biao in ability and charm, but it seems that no one told him about the concept of overacting, and more importantly not to do it! Another thing that got me mad was that at the pivotal climax (which sort of comes in two parts!) Kara doesn't take center stage in the action, when she did so for the rest of the movie before! (Undoubtedly another decision on the part of Shaw execs...they must have said something like, "We can't have a lady knock the crap out of all the guys!") So Lau Kar Leung, Hsiao and a few more goofy uncles take center stage in the final fight against their evil kin...at least Lau does it well! And lest I forget, Kara gets to show some of her sex appeal (much to Hsiao's delight!), but not in the way she did in MADAM CITY HUNTER!

My final opinion: Highly recommended! (With reservations!)

Reviewed by: SBates
Date: 03/12/2001
Summary: Over acting hurts an otherwise good film

This had the makings of a good film: a nice twist on the WAY OF THE DRAGON, as a young girl from the sticks makes her way to a more Westernized Hong Kong. She goes there to settle a land dispute, and meets her "nephew", the Westernized college student Hsiao Hou.There's a bit to be said about sex roles (one of Liu's recurring themes)and Westernized Chinese. The ending seems to have been the inspiration for the finale of Wheels on Meal; the three heroes lay siege on a castle. The martial arts are also very sharp. Sounds good, right? Well...
One, it's too long. Many scenes, mostly comedic ones, drag on and on. The scene at the western dance, for instance.Second, the acting is bad. There's too much mugging and pouting and that pantomime style acting where everyone talks with their hands. It gets pretty tedious. I did like Gordon Liu strumming that guitar tho.

Reviewed by: battlemonkey
Date: 12/21/1999

A Westernized young man (Hsiao Ho) takes in a traditionalChinese woman (Hui Ying Hung), and they unite against the family villain (Wang Lung Wei), who wants to seize up all the land.