ZĬ^ (1992)
King of Beggars


Reviewed by: kiliansabre
Date: 03/20/2010
Summary: King even as a beggar

King of Beggars plot and character development wise I would put in the same catergory as God of Cookery and Kung Fu Hustle. That is the story follows the protagonist from his high point, to his fall, to his rise again. This is on my list of better Stephen Chow films, but it is not perfect. He was still perfecting his style here and though this is a good indication of things to come, it's still a bit rough. The comedy here is on par - the contests at the beginning is hilarious and typical Chow humor. For me, the main thing that detracted from this was the Kung Fu. This movie is rooted in the fantasy kung fu genre so the fight scenes are a lot of flying around and people kicking and punching in outfits that rustle in the wind. The last fight scene using sleeping fist is a lot of fun. For fans of Stephen Chow or just good comedies in general.


Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 07/17/2006

Stephen Chow plays a rich ne'er-do-well who enters a martial arts competition to impress a beautiful prostitute (Cheung Man). When the emperor finds out that Chow cheated in the competition, he makes Chow give up all his wealth and become a beggar. Eventually, Chow hooks up with a organized gang of beggars and helps stave off a rebellion.

Stephen Chow has been likened to Jim Carrey for his goofy mannerisms and "rubber" face, and one can certainly see touches of that in King of Beggars. There are several sequences (especially the climatic fight during the martial arts competition) that would look very familiar to those that have seen Carrey's work. However, like Carrey, Chow also falls prey into the trap of wanting to be regarded as a "serious" actor (unlike Carrey, though, Chow actually got his start as a dramatic actor before hitting it big with comedies). Genre mixing is to be expected in Hong Kong films, but the serious turn in King of Beggars really slows the film down and doesn't allow Stephen Chow to do what he does best -- make us laugh. The movie recovers near the end with a climax that combines wire-fu and comedy in a manic mix that should please most Hong Kong film fans.

[review from hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 01/15/2006

“King of Beggars” is an entertaining hodge-podge of styles and themes, a movie that veers from low comedy to melodramatic bathos with stops at martial arts and family drama. There is also a hint of romance between the lazy son of a general and a beautiful prostitute who tries to kill him, mistaking him for an evil court official. When the particularly well done wire work is included, there is something for just about everyone in this movie. It touches on the need to belong to a group, the role of class and wealth and on how filial love transcends material troubles. There are images of Imperial China—the Great Wall, the Emperor, the pageantry and pomp that accompanies the royal court—together with images of the lowest of the low, including starving beggars eating rice meant for dogs.

Two scenes a few minutes apart show this ambivalence quite well. The both take place during a sequence in which So Chan becomes the Beggar King. The current King has been mortally wounded in combat with the evil Chau. He arrives at the beggar’s encampment and tells them that a new leader must be chosen—it is clear from a pan across the faces of the assembled men (there seem to be no female beggars) that none of them are up to the task So Chan rouses himself long enough to announce that he will be the new King. As he shambles up the stairs of an outdoor platform he falls—it is a well done pratfall but isn’t funny at all. Both the audience watching the movie and the audience inside the movie—the assembled beggars—are shocked that the only possible candidate to lead them can’t even make it up a flight of stairs.

A few minutes later Chow, in the middle of showing the beggars that he is just the man for them, accidentally breaks the “waddy”, which is the King’s badge of office—a turquoise stick that is a cross between a stout pole for fighting and a monarch’s scepter. It has magical properties, although whether it is a conduit for the power of the King or has its own energy is never really made clear. When he breaks the waddy So Chan does a perfectly timed double take, a signal for both audiences that he is in control and that need not fear the loss of the symbol. So within a couple of minutes there are two basic physical comedy bits—a pratfall and a double take—that indicate opposite things much like the movie itself jumps around.

Each member of the excellent supporting cast played to his strengths. Norman Chu as the evil magician Chau was obsequiously attentive when dealing with the Emperor’s minister, loathsomely lewd when he turned his attentions to the lovely Ru Shan, demonically demented when drinking the blood of an infant and always the perfect bad guy. Sharla Cheung, as the resistance leader working undercover as a prostitute was, as always, drop-dead beautiful. She didn’t have to stretch her acting muscles too far in this role and filled it admirably. The role of So Chan’s father was made for Ng Man-Tat the wily scene-stealer for whom this was the sixth of sixteen movies released in 1992. The early 1990s must have been exhausting for him—he was in sixty movies released between the beginning of 1990 and the end of 1993. Not much of a father figure, he was more a comic sidekick a not untypical role for this actor. He was able to set aside the comic persona during a few scenes that established his parental pride in and love for his son.

Stephen Chow gave a more understated performance than he often does—even the comic bits at the start of the movie were toned down from what one often expects from him. His fitness and athleticism were put to very good use in the sequences in which he discovered and then used his “sleeping fist” kung fu. His non-comic acting skills were still being developed in 1992 but were more than adequate for this role.

Production design and costumes were lavishly and lush, if occasionally silly. Sharla Cheung had a number of costumes that highlighted her beautiful face and alabaster complexion but one of them was very odd. When she went on scouting missions for the beggar’s army she wore all black, topped with a huge black hat that towered over her. The hat was a direct copy, although much larger and with a ridiculously huge brim, of the one worn by the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz”.

The opulent costumes and excellent scenic design were shown to their colorful best by the use of extreme depth of field by the two credited cinematographers. They and the director made almost all the right decisions to make this a striking looking picture.

Poison smoke at the end was an anti-climax, almost as if the director didn’t have the time or money (or both) left to film a proper clash of armies and ideologies. The conflict between the Emperor’s men, the rebels led by Chau and the beggar’s clandestine resistance to the rebels abruptly came to and end simply because the wind shifted, blowing the smoke at the rebels. This unexciting ending, combined with a coda which was a scene between the Emperor and So Chan, had a tacked on, thrown together, thought of at the last moment feel that lowered my rating of this movie by one point.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: SteelwireMantis
Date: 03/14/2004
Summary: Quite a surprise

Gordon Chan reunites the 'Fight Back to School' team once again in this period kung-fu adventure with a slight hint of comedy.

So Chan (Stephen Chow) is the son of wealthy Peking general So (Ng Man Tat) who is lazy, rude and illiterate. On his 25th birhtday banquet at the brothel he meets Yushang, (Cheung Man) a sort-of beggar posing as a hooker to kill Chu (Norman Chu) who has murdered her father - head of the Beggars Association. As he is in love with her, he proposes. She agrees to marry him if he becomes the king of kung-fu. As he wins the contest, him and his father are exposed for cheating for the title. The Emperor seizes all their wealth and commands them to stay as beggars forever. In an attempt to make money, Chan has his limbs broken and left a cripple. After a few seasons pass they join the Beggars Association. Chan is taught the sleeping fist and wins in a bid for the King of Beggars - renamed Beggar So (So Yat Chi). Then plans revenge against Chu and to foil an assassination attempt against the Emperor.

This film had a very good story that was told pretty well and the kung-fu was well-chreographed. The few jokes in the film are quite funny but I expected something less-comedic. But it does contain more comedy then I expected. Chueng Man - if only her acting was in comparison to her beauty, but Chow does show acting skill in some of his serious scenes. The chemstry between Chow and Ng Man Tat is inevitable, the scenes between them are probably the funniest. (Apart from the Bruce Lee imitation done by Chow)

Overall, a good movie - a definite for Stephen Chow fans. If you ain't, the fight scenes alone are worth the watch.

****/*****

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: resdog781
Date: 06/07/2002
Summary: Yoda says...

shit jokes do not a funny film make.


Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 04/20/2002
Summary: Average

Unfortunatly, even with the fact that Gordon Chan teamed up again with Stephen Chow, this film falls short.

At the time, this was a resonablly original idea with some new jokes, but like a lot of Chow's films, he uses a lot of old jokes. A lot of this film was shot on location in Beijing and some of the backdrops do look good, and make up for some of the film. One person in the reviews said that the acting was really good...well I'd like to know which part, because the acting seemed non-existent most of the time, and Sharla Cheung couldn't act if her life depended on it. Some of Stephen Chow's more serious scenes were well acted though, makes me wish he would do more serious roles for a change.

All in all, it's another commercial farce for Stephen Chow, only one for his fans I think. The new jokes are very funny, but the same old jokes keep popping up making it uninteresting.

[2.5/5]


Reviewed by: danton
Date: 02/04/2002

Rewatched a lot of old Stephen Chiau movies lately, among them this old favorite retelling of the Beggar So legend that was also picked up in movies like Yuen Woo Ping's Heroes Among Heroes (with Donnie Yen playing So). KoB is a big-budget period spectacle that follows the proven Chiau formula to the letter, i.e. offers plenty of slapstick and verbal humour interlaced with strong emotional scnes. In fact, perhaps a bit too much emotional poignancy for its own good. The movie shows the downfall of a spoilt rich young man (Chiau) who is reduced to becoming a beggar after he gets caught cheating in an exam. So much of the movie revolves around his and his father's (Ng Man-tat) descent into poverty and despair. Similar themes were shown in comedic fashion in Hail the Judge, but here it almost becomes depressing (which is not a good thing when you're doing a comedy...).
Anyway, he eventually learns the Sleeping Fist technique, becomes the King of Beggars, gets the girl (a luminous Cheung Man), defeats the bad guy and saves the emporer... Production values are high like in all of Chiau's period comedies, and despite the somewhat depressing middle part, this is still an enjoyable effort. Recommended.


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 09/13/2001
Summary: 8/10 - good entertainment

After achieving success in a variety of contemporary films, Stephen Chow and Gordon Chan decided to transpose his unique brand of comedy to a period setting, spoofing the trend of wired up martial arts films that were popular at the time.

Chow plays a spoilt rich kid who never the less has a good heart, and becomes a better person after his riches are stripped away. It's a reinvention of the story of Beggar So, a popular character in kung fu tales - the backstory provided by him here is entirely new & fictional though.

The film is not as outrageously slapstick as some of Chow's other films, perhaps focussing more on developing a strong story. There are some very funny bits, but it's not as laugh-out-loud funny as some of his films... there are sections that are quite serious, in fact. As usual, it's probably the chemistry between Chow and Ng Man-Tat that provides the funniest moments.

Cheung Man again plays the leading lady - and again her acting is forgettable. Norman Chu is the main villain of the piece, and he is a great bad guy in the over-the-top tradition of martial arts films.

Production values for the film are fairly high, with some nice use of locations in China. It's not exactly a lavish film, and looks cheap compared to some more contemporary films - but that's because it was.

Action from Yuen Cheung-Yan has some good moments, though it's not particularly amazing (and there are some rather visible wires).

Overall verdict is that it's a good film, but not amongst Chow's very best. Definitely worth a watch for fans of the man though.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 08/01/2001
Summary: Most impressive

A perfect combination of kung fu, drama, and comedy, KING OF BEGGARS is easily the best Stephen Chow film I've ever seen. There's even some very touching moments here, much to my surprise. Of course, the presence of Norman Chu is better than ever as the bad guy here, a role in which he excels.. The final fight is a bit cheap though, with Chow throwing the 18th technique of the XIANG LONG SHI BA ZHANG at Norman Chu and then him blowing up; all that cramed up in 5 seconds or so. Of course, that does mean the film is a throw-away. In fact, 99% of the material shines undoubtedly, It is only unfortunate that the crew could not come up with a decent way to have Chow surpass the kung fu level of Norman Chu. If you like melodramatic elements like I do, this title is most recommended.

[9/10]


Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 02/28/2001
Summary: OK

BEcause i am a big fan and everyone said it was good, my expectations fell short.

I didn't like this as other people had but i must mention the "Sleeping Kung Fu" style which was GREAT!!
I remember the ending was a bit too typical too!!

Not his best for me, but it's a nice change for him to do kung fu and comedy!!

6/10


Reviewed by: hellboy
Date: 09/03/2000

Another great action/comedy from Stephen Chow. Chow plays the legendary drunken master, Beggar So with all the mugging and nonchalant charm you would expect from him. The film also emphasizes kung-fu more than any other Chow period comedy I've seen. The fight scenes are handled well and Chow succeeds in convincing us he knows martial arts. No drunken boxing in the film, but there is sleepy fist! 8/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: MadMonkey
Date: 12/09/1999

This is the tale of Beggar So, I think, who pioneered the "Drunken Style" of kung fu fighting; here, however, with Chow in the lead role, it's the tale of a good-hearted layabout who, despite his illiteracy, attempts to win the heart of Cheung Man (a sort of beggar princess) by becoming the top Scholar of Martial Arts. When, despite his prowess, he is cheated out of the title and sentenced to be a beggar all of his life, the movie becomes almost cloyingly melodramatic. He and his father, capably played by Ng Man Tat, are sentenced to the streets, where they are forced to cadge steamed buns just to survive; Chow despairs and spends most of his time sleeping, until he is told in his dreams of a new reason to live--and a new style of kung fu to fight for that reason. It's..."Sleeping Fist Kung Fu"! A terrific ending, with hordes of beggars fighting evil rebel soldiers and Chow going toe-to-toe with a dastardly kung-fu necromancer, makes for a fulfilling two hours well spent.

(3.5/5)


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

The illiterate General of Canton, General So, advocates alazy, happy lifestyle of sex and money. His spoiled and also illiterate son, Chan (Stephen Chow), is his most faithful disciple. For the love of a woman, Chan attends the national exams for Martial Arts Scholar in Peking. Chan is victorious on the physical test, but before he is to be crowned, he is found to have cheated on the written exam. The Emperor sentences Chan to be a beggar. Initially Chan is unable cope with his new role, but with some mystic help, he takes on the position as King of the Beggars Association. Leading this motley crew into battle against an evil warlord in the Emperor's entourage, Chan rescues the Emperor, and gains respect for the beggars.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

This is a fun, but sometimes weird, movie. The acting is top rate, the fight scenes are great (even if there's not enough of them), and the scenery is wonderful. Watch for the bad guy (who is probably the coolest bad guy I've seen) taking people's heads off so quick if you blink twice you might miss it.

(8.75/10)



[Reviewed by Dale Whitehouse]


Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

In dynastic China, the illiterate, long-haired son of a decadent millionaire (Stephen Chieu) wins a martial arts contest; but when the Emperor discovers he cheated on the written part of the test, he's condemned to the life of a beggar. After an interlude of drunkenness, he becomes king of the Beggars Association, and fights the Emperor's foes with a patented sleeping kung fu. Great fight scenes!

(3/4)



[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 7