Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2008-11-20
Summary: The legend begins...
An unofficial prequel to Drunken Master, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow follows the trials and travails of Chien Fu, a servant and "walking dummy" in a town's kung fu school. He is regularly bullied and made to act as a punching bag for students and instructors that want to show their skills to prospective clients. He befriends an old beggar named Pai Chang Tien (Simon Yuen) who is the last known master of the Snake Fist style. He is being hunted by Eagle Claw master Shang Kuan Yin (Hwang Jang Lee), who is determined to wipe out all Snake Fist practitioners. Seeing that Chien is an able student, Pai decides to pass the knowledge onto him, thus continuing the style's tradition. Before long though, Shang catches up to both of them, and they must battle him and his students to protect the Snake Fist style from extinction.

This first collaboration between Jackie Chan and celebrated choreographer/director Yuen Woo-Ping is an absolute gem. Although not quite as polished in the choreography and timing of the subsequent classic Drunken Master, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow gives you a real preview of the magic that both these men would make in the following decades. Chan's trademark slapstick antics are evident for the fist time here, and would dominate his roles from this point on. Yuen, although having done action choreography for years, is finally given a chance behind the lens and does a great job. Hwang Jang Lee also stands out, as he usually does with outstandingly powerful kicks and fighting speed. Another point to mention is the music, which ranges from very trippy synthesizers to a variation on John Williams' Star Wars music from the scene in which the Death Star is destroyed! Eclectic to say the least. A must watch for all fans of either Chan or Yuen, and really the start of an era for both. Highly recommended!

Reviewer Score: 9