The Prodigal Son (1981)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2005-08-05
Summary: Lam Ching Ying steals the show...
Sammo Hung directs The Prodigal Son, about a rich man's son who has been passing himself off as a great martial artist, but gets in over his head when he challenges a real master. Yuen Biao plays Leung Jan, who thinks he is the toughest fighter in the city, but has no idea that his servent has been fixing the matches for him, paying off the competitors in order to make his master look good. One day, he challenges Leung Yee Tai (Lam Ching Ying), a member of the Peking Opera that has stopped in town, and gets thoroughly whipped. After being abandoned by his trainers and told the truth about the fight fixing, Jan goes to Yee Tai and begs him to become his teacher. After turning him down multiple times, Yee Tai finally agrees and takes Biao along on the road to teach him. Along the way, Yee Tai is challenged by Lord Ngai (Frankie Chan), who is also a vicious fighter, and after a first fight draw, Yee Tai (who suffers from sever asthma) refuses to fight again. This leads Ngai's henchmen to slaughter the troupe, except for Jan and Yee Tai, who manage to escape. They go to Yee's brother (Sammo Hung), who agrees to tend for his ailing brother and teach Yuen Biao the Wing Chun style. After months of training, Yuen returns to challenge Lord Ngai in a final battle.

The Prodigal Son is a truly entertaining film, with good acting, great comedic scenes, and probably some of the most authentic fighting and training you'll see in a movie. All of the martial artists are top-notch, with Lam Ching Yam and Yuen Biao standing out as especially skilled. The fights are incredibly choreographed and use great camera angles to accentuate the action (Sammo Hung won Best Action Direction at the Hong Kong Film Awards for this film). In addition, the plot is quite interesting and not overly compicated, which tends to draw away from the action in other films. The fights alone are reason enough to see and even own the film, so the addition of other positive elements make it a very good movie.

8/10

Reviewer Score: 8