The Cub Tiger from Kwangtung (1973)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2012-10-30
Summary: A young, serious Chan starts on his path...
Original version:

Special due to it being most likely the first starring role for Jackie Chan, Cub Tiger from Kwangtung is an otherwise mediocre kung fu film with generic themes and plot. Jackie plays Hsiao Hsu, a young man that works as a waiter/delivery boy for his uncle’s noodle shop. There is a local gang that insists on harassing local merchants, but Hsiao fights back and starts to gain a reputation for being quite a fighter. This unfortunately is against the wishes of his step father (Tien Feng), who has raised him since Hsiao’s father’s death at the head of the gang, Lu Chi (Chen Hung-lieh). The plot consists mainly of Hsiao getting in a series of progressively nasty scuffles with the gang until their behaviour is so outrageous that his step father has no choice but to allow Hsiao to unleash all his pent up rage. The results are unsurprisingly devastating for the gang.

The original version is quite a serious and dark film, with Lu Chi’s gang attempting to beat, rape and murder their way to controlling the local town through fear. Hsiao’s rage is completely understandable and justifiable by the end of the film. The choreography by Chan, Corey Yuen and others are a step above the typical films of the time, but still does not completely break from the “basher” type of kung fu. You can see glimpses of more intricate, internal-style martial arts in the fighting, but they are few and far between. It probably has more to do with what was expected at the time than a deficiency on the part of the martial arts directing team. As most have said, probably for Chan completists only, although a chance to see Jackie in his early days before finding his path as a kung fu comedy superstar is an interesting one.


Master with Cracked Fingers edit:

This 1979 re-edit and release changes a bit of the storyline and introduces the oft-used Simon Yuen “Master Beggar” character. Instead of Chen Hung-lieh killing Jackie’s father, they have Kwan Yung-Moon’s “Big Boss” as the culprit. They then have Jackie’s character as a young boy being taught martial arts by Simon Yuen as a (frankly borderline pedophile) beggar. The original opening credit sequence is used as the first introduction of Jackie as a teen. Throughout the story, the Master Beggar pops up and gives advice to a faceless Jackie double before the film switches back to its original scenes. There is even a part where they take the forms scene from Drunken Master and insert it as part of the film. No shame! By the end, “Jackie,” conveniently with a blindfold on to conceal the actual actor, fights Kwan in an open plain, the camera pulled back almost 50 yards to again make it difficult to tell the actor apart from Jackie. The film is no improvement over the original, especially with the attempt to make it somewhat comedic. There are entire sub-plots eliminated (Sze-Ma and Gam Lau’s family) as well as plot points changed (Tien Feng’s death). The addition of Dean Shek as the annoying landlord certainly doesn’t help matters either. Kwan is good as the boss and has some nice moves, but it can’t help the movie as a whole.

Reviewer Score: 5