The Bare-Footed Kid (1993)
Reviewed by: mrblue on 2007-10-22
You might think that a remake of a Chang Cheh movie (Disciples of Shaolin) helmed by Johnnie To, starring Ti Lung, and action directed by Lau Kar-Leung would be an all-time classic. And if you're to judge The Bare-Footed Kid by many of the reviews out there, you'd be right in thinking that. Unfortunately, The Bare-Footed Kid has a big stumbling block in the form of Mr. Aaron Kwok that this particular reviewer could not get around.

The movie has Kwok as a young man named Kuan, who has come to the big city from his village in order to pick up his deceased father's effects. They're being held at pop's old place of employment, a weaving company owned by the lovely widow Miss Ho (Maggie Cheung) and supervised by the stern Tuan (Ti Lung). Miss Ho takes pity on the impoverished Kuan and offers him a job. Kuan fits right in, and even begins courting a teacher (Wu Chien-Lin). But things start to go awry when the local magistrate (Paul Chun Pui) plots to take the company's secret dye-making techniques by any means necessary.

The plot isn't anything mind-blowing, but there are a few nice twists to keep the viewer interested, and Johnnie To moves matters along at a nice clip. Most of the acting is solid; Maggie Cheung and Ti Lung, in particular, turn in very good performances. And the action (though there's not a whole lot of it until the last part of the movie) is, as you might expect from the mind of Lau Kar-Leung, is staged well, with inventive use of different weapons.

Even with all of that going for The Bare-Footed Kid, Aaron Kwok's performance is so terrible that it threatens to de-rail the whole picture at many times during the proceedings. Long-time readers of this site will know that I am not a big fan of Kwok's work -- he often comes off with the personality and charisma of a gargoyle that just smoked a fatty -- but I will grant that he can do good work, such as with After This Our Exile.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those times. Kwok's attempts at acting here make The Bare-Footed Kid come off at times like a bad farce, rather than the touching and exciting martial arts picture it sets out to be. But if you can forgive the shortcomings in that department, The Bare-Footed Kid still has a lot to offer potential viewers, and thus still warrants a mild recommendation.

[review from]
Reviewer Score: 6