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sL (1978)
Enter the Fat Dragon


Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 06/17/2006

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.

Recommended.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 05/04/2006
Summary: Track it down

Only the second film to star Sammo Hung, 1978’s Enter the Fat Dragon is often over-looked and is increasingly hard to get hold of. It’s also pretty brilliant. In an age where Hong Kong was still coming to terms with the passing of the Little Dragon, and had built an industry out of finding the successor to his throne, this film stands head and shoulders above anything cynically produced to cash in on Bruce’s likeness. The fact that it was a parody (only at times, mind, and only in the most respectful way) may have had something to do with it.

This also features the acting talents of Roy Chiao. It has to be said that the english dub version of this is vastly superior to anything I’ve seen before – I guess the dubbing team had an unusual amount of fun with it, and it shows. Roy Chiao’s response to the line, “I just tortured that girl in my mind…and I’m glad” is perhaps the funniest thing I’ve ever heard in a Hong Kong film. Sadly, it wasn’t presented in widescreen and you couldn’t see what was going on half of the time (no luxuries such as pan-and-scan for this film!), so you’ll probably have to make do with the subbed and grainy Crash Cinema DVD if you can still get it.

Action-wise, this is a must for fans of the nunchaku. Although only used in one scene, the very sight of Sammo wielding this weapon brought a big soppy grin to my face. Living in the UK, we still look at nunchaku scenes as a bit of a novelty, having had them removed for so long. It would be another twelve years before he would use them again (in Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon). Although the action does take a back seat to the comedy in places, the humour on show here is far superior to many others of its age, and has travelled surprisingly well. If you generally dislike Hong Kong comedies, you may be surprised at what’s on offer here.

On the controversial use of a Chinese man playing a black man: yes, Lee Hoi-Sang does “black-up” for this film, but I do not believe this was done out of any deliberate desire to stereotype race or with any sense of malice (unlike for example Don’t Give a Damn – which seems to wallow in its ignorance). I’m sure they would have got Jim Kelly if they could have afforded him, or another black actor if they could have found one who could have performed the necessary moves. It’s important to remember that this film was supposed to be a parody of Enter the Dragon, and you can’t have Enter the Dragon without Jim Kelly. It would be disrespectful not to represent him in some way, although admittedly the solution could be seen as offensive.

In summary, a sadly neglected classic that is far funnier than it has a right to be. It deserves a proper remaster and re-issue NOW.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 07/10/2005
Summary: Bruce Lee +60 lbs

Enter the Fat Dragon is a very simple movie mostly put together as a comedic vehicle for Sammo Hung, who also directed. Hung plays Ah Lung, a pig farmer who comes to the city (Hong Kong?) in order to work at his uncle's food stand. Lung is a huge Bruce Lee fan, and tries to imitate everything, from clothes to mannerisms. Being somewhat simple, Lung is taken advantage of, but with the help of his cousin and his fighting skills, he manages to extricate himself. There are many seedy elements in the city, including two men that want to take advantage of Lung's cousin's art skills in making fake paintings, and an odd art dealer who kidnaps one of Lung's friends because she reminds him of a lost love. Sammo uses his extraordinary kung fu skills to defeat the art dealer's multi-ethnic bodygaurds and the gang whose members are targeting his cousin.

The plot of this movie really makes no sense, it basically sets up Sammo in different situations in order to show off his martial arts and mastery of imitating Bruce Lee. He has everything down exactly like the real deal, from the use of Jeet Kun Do, the looks he gives people, the wagging finger, the noises he makes during fights, etc. You'd swear you were watching Bruce Lee with about 60 pounds tacked on. There is one excellent fight scene that underlies the feeling of the entire movie. Sammo goes to be a stunt fighter in a movie that features a Bruce Lee rip off actor and, after being insulted he proceedes to destroy the actor using Jeet Kun Do. At the end of the fight he lets the actor know that he is tarnishing the image of Bruce with these horrible movies designed to capatilize on Bruce's character. This is what makes this movie enjoyable - it is not another cheesy Bruce Lee rip-off, but a parody of these that pokes fun at itself at the same time. Although a weak plot, Sammo's acting and marital arts make it interesting. Look for Yuen Biao as the last fighter Sammo defeats in his Bruce Lee fighting daydream that opens the movie.
7/10

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/26/2003

One of Hung's better early efforts. The humor is dead-on in parts as Hung tries to imitate Lee's moves and facial expressions, and also in a bit where Hung pokes fun at Jackie Chan's Drunken Master. The action is also pretty good, especially when Hung takes on a trio on martial arts experts at the end. It's not the greatest film, but pretty good for '70's kung fu, especially if you're a fan of Hung and/or Lee. Be warned, though: most video versions of the movie have pretty shoddy quality. There is also a character in blackface which some people might find offensive.


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/11/2002
Summary: Sammo does Bruce justice

I've always thought that the best way to show your respect of a friend who dies is to parody them in a movie, and it seems that Sammo agrees to me. Actually, to be fair, the movie is really making fun of Sammo's character, a country boy obsessed with Bruce Lee who goes to HK to find work, more than it makes fun of Bruce for the various mannerisms and noises that Sammo emulates.

The story bares no relation to ENTER THE DRAGON, whatever the DVD blurb (Netflix) would have you believe. It has a little bit in common with WAY OF THE DRAGON, but so did half the other movies from HK at the time It's quite an amusing movie, with Sammo playing his character very well. It does feel like more of a homage to Lee than a parody, and it's great seeing Sammo in such limber form. The fights are very well choreographed and filmed, especially when Sammo faces off against Leung Kar Yan.

The Crash Cinema DVD is a decent presentation, all things considered. It's widescreen at about 2:1 aspect ratio, in Cantonese with the original theatrical subs. The subs are readable most of the time, except for a few sections where they disappear completely. The print used was very badly scratched in places, and the colour bleed on red areas suggests that there's been at least one VHS in its family tree. It's quite amusing that a spec like this constitutes a 'good presentation' for a HK movie of that age, LOL

Recommended.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Kncklz2000
Date: 04/08/2001
Summary: Best Bruce Lee impersonator

Bruce would be proud if he could see this one.

Sammo is a country boy who goes to the city to help his uncle. During his stay, he encounters more then what he could have asked for.

"Enter The Fat Dragon" has a good deal of comedic sequences (when Sammo is chasing after a taxi cab- towards the very end of the movie), but even more action. I'd have to say it has more fights then his later movies (Carry On Pickpocket and Shanghai Shanghai).

The transition between fights would take some time to get used to. You would see Sammo fight in a traditional kung fu style (similar to that of Knockabout) and then he would change into a modern fighting style (simliar to that of Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars), where the punches and kicks are more realistic.

Here are my reasons for getting this movie:

1)Sammo is the best Bruce Lee impersonator

2)MANY MANY fights

3)The Asian girl (the friend of the woman who gets kidnapped) is SOOOOO FINE

4)The Asian girl is SOOOOO FINE

5)The Asian girl is SOOOO) FINE

7)The movie studio fight is probably the most incredible fight in the movie. -watch out for a brief cameo appearence by Lam Ching Ying-

6)Sammo takes on 3 guys in the end fight, one after the other

7)The African American in the end fight is played by an Asian actor, so it's really funny to watch

8)The camera work was magnificent, even if it was Sammo's second directorial effort.


Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 02/23/2001
Summary: Uneven, but some great bits

This is another half-and-half effort. That is, the first half is mostly very silly comedy with less fu, while the second half is (a little) more serious with some simply stunning action sequences. Stuff good enough to rewind and watch in slow-mo, several times.

The story is standard Samo-stupid-comedy fare, and nothing to get excited about. Watch it for the at-times-incredible and inventive action sequences. Samo's duel with Leung Ka Yan, near the end, is a highlight.

Overall though, there is far less action in this one that you'd expect, and apart from the inventive fights, the remainder really isn't all that funny.

The bulk of the soundtrack was lifted from one of my favourite moog synthesizer albums of the 1970s, "Pop Arp" by "Mister K" (a.k.a a Frenchman named Matt Camison), released around 1974. The cute and chirpy tunes do provide some bounce to some of the comic escapades.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

It was VERY funny.. pretty good plot... cute girls (the Tall girl...swoon) anyways, it's got the much expected fight scenes..but best of all. It spoofs Bruce lee.. Samo hung does his impression of Bruce. from the facial expressions, to the nose wipe, to the funny screams, to the grimacing face as he smashes someone with his leg (ah la enter the dragon and Chinese connection), to the nun chuk scene (totally makes fun/homage to Bruce) WOW.. it was a load of laughs and a great time to watch. I recommend this film whole heartedly... you will NOT be disappointed. Way too cool.

[Reviewed by Anonymous]


Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Samo plays a farm boy who comes to Hong Kong to work for hisuncle. He also idolizes Bruce Lee and tries to imitate him at every opportunity! He then gets mixed up with a bunch of crooks and then he must use his kung fu skills to save the day. This movie is actually quite funny as even though Samo does not really look like Bruce Lee he does a great impersonation of him. To understand some of the humour you have to have seen some of Lee's movies. Yuen Biao even has a minor role as a thug who gets his clock cleaned by Samo a couple of times.

(5/10)



[Reviewed by Dave Warner]