Enter the Fat Dragon (1978)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2006-06-17
There is a lot to like about “Enter the Fat Dragon”—not least its title—and the annoying parts can be glossed over easily. Sammo Hung is athletic and charismatic, never really the fish out of water or country bumpkin in the big city outsider that the script seems to want him to be. He is introduced as little more than an animal—there is a cut from his pigs eating greens to him at the dinner table with his father, eating what looks to be the same stuff and in much the same manner—but he is a magnetic and attractive character as soon as he shows up in Hong Kong. Just about everyone else was perfectly cast, whether as damsels in distress, seemingly tough but actually cowardly street thugs, mid-level triad muscle or multi-ethnic and outlandishly garbed bodyguards.

Tony Leung Siu-Hung made an excellent Bruce Lee imposter. The audience knew that Sammo’s character was going to thrash him but knowing it was going to happen didn’t vitiate the enjoyment one bit. Leung Kar Yan as the bodyguard who was a kung fu master was allowed to come close to beating Sammo in the third of three terrific fights and Fung Hak-On was as evil, devious and lacking in courage as befits a villain. Lee Hoi-Sang was initially distracting—when he first appeared my wife wondered if he was a white guy in blackface make-up—but he acquitted himself well. Or as well as one can when his sideburns becoming detached from his face during a fight. Peter Yang Kwan played Professor Pai as effete, insane and always way over the top.

The screenplay seemed choppy enough that it might have been made up as the production went along, serving mainly to get Sammo from one confrontation to the next. It was neither credible nor internally consistency and it didn’t need to be. The cinematography and blocking for the non-action scenes wasn’t much more than proper lighting and focus—just point the camera, make sure everyone hits his mark and get on to the next set up—which worked just fine. There wasn’t a plot as such—the audience not only knew that Sammo would beat up the Bruce Lee imposter, we knew everything that was going to happen long before it did, but there was no real sense of “get on with it” since Sammo and the rest of the professionals involved not only kept things moving but looked as if they were having a good time doing so.

Reviewer Score: 7