The Hot, the Cool and the Vicious (1976)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2000-12-28
First, the bad news. The acting is simply awful. Dorian Tan's expression barely changes throughout, and is mostly deadpan. Don Wong's swaggering manner is quite irritating, and he rarely allows his obvious charm to shine through. The tone of the story is near-feverish melodrama. The script is pretty stupid, as it calls for characters to do all sorts of daft things which make little or no sense.

So what, you may say. Fu films are about butts getting kicked, and the acting/script etc are all secondary. Quite so. But the acting and script are below par even by ordinary action film standards.

The crucial question - is the action good enough to make up for all this ? Well, it sure is.

I had read a number of glowing reviews of this film before seeing it, so I was expecting a lot. I honestly don't think it's the classic that many martial arts fans make it out to be, but it's still pretty good. I thought there would have been more and longer fight scenes. However, the fights are of high quality. Dorian Tan and Don Wong are a magic sparring pair. And when Tommy Lee blasts onto the scene, I finally see why he is so highly regarded as a fight choreographer.

The climactic fight scene is a stunner. This is partly due to outstanding choreography, and assisted by one of the best slow-motion sequences I've ever seen in a fu film. I'm not talking about the awful tendency in many fu cheapies to stop, pose, stop, pose etc... This sequence is filmed at full speed and slowed down at critical moments... and it's worth every frame.

Overall - try hard to ignore the dreadful acting. Grit your teeth if necessary. It's worth it.
Reviewer Score: 9