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貓頭鷹 (1981)
The Legend of the Owl

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 08/29/2009

Super-thief The Owl kidnaps the Emperor's 36th wife, and 3 hapless heroes get tasked with ensuring her return.

Legend of the Owl is a very silly film, a spoof of Chor Yuen style wu xia that is often quite hilarious. I never really bought David Chiang as a handsome hero, but as a clown he is compelling. The humour is very reminiscent of Stephen Chiau's later parodies. There's not much action, but what there is is pretty good.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 04/02/2009
Summary: rock around the clock...

the owl (?) is a mysterious character, who steals and kidnaps, then holds an annual auction where a select group of people get to bid on his spoils. one year, someone is't too impressed with his offerings and says that he wants the king's 36th concubine to be available at the next auction. never one to turn down a challenge, the owl swiftly obliges and whisks her from the palace. after an lacklustre search, the king turns to one of his most trusted royal guards for help; unfortunately, he's dead, so he sends his son, fan shik ling (david chiang), in his place...

fan then turns to two men his father told him that he could always count on, only to discover that they have retired, but their sons, hsiao li (barry chan) and shark (eric tsang) reluctantly agree to join him. and so their quest begins...

watching this, it seems strange that david chiang, who has starred in many, many films, wasn't more prolific behind the camera. on the evidence of this (and 'double fattiness', which i also remember enjoying) he seems to have quite a good hand, when it comes to directing comedy. for 1981, even if it does steal a couple of jokes directly from 'airplane', it's a pretty slick production; the use of music is handled really well and the mixture of physical, visual and dialogue gags works well. chiang, chan and tsang also have a good onscreen rapport and there's even some decent action as well as the more slapstick fare on offer.

good stuff...

Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 03/02/2003

This is flick is a hidden gem. I'm surprised nobody talks about this flick. This flick is a costume comedy directed by David Chiang. David Chiang doing comedy? Yes! David Chiang put some funny stuff in the movie that would give Wong Jing a run for his money. If you ever watched any gung fu movies, sometimes you'll get to catch a fight with chopsticks or teacups. Nothing is spilled. David Chiang brings his interpretation of this kind of fighting to this movie. Also, it seems that there are a few parodies of some popular serials such as "The Romantic Swordsman Xiao Li Fei Dao" (Romantic Swordsman Little Flying Dagger Li". When the guy who is the Owl appears for the first time, the theme song to the Romantic Swordsman plays. Anyways, lots of good stuff in this movie, so watch it!. What's the plot you say? It's about three opportunists (played by David Chiang, Wei Tze Yung, and Eric Tsang) who are trying to find the Emperor's favorite concubine for a reward. Enjoyable movie-its something you've never seen in your life.

Reviewed by: Bruce
Date: 11/02/2001
Summary: Kung-Fu Comedy, with not much action and lots of parody.

A masked mastermind named The Owl holds an exclusive auction every year, selling special slaves and rare objects of art. One of the customers requests that he obtain the 36th wife of the emperor, for the next auction. The Owl agrees and arranges for the woman to be kidnapped. The emperor sends a messenge to a trusted royal guard, assigning him the task of rescuing his wife. Unfortunately the guard has died, but his son, David Chiang, takes the assignment. He hunts up two of his father's friends for assistance. They have both retired, but their sons, Barry Chan and Eric Tsang, agree to help out. So David, Barry, and Eric go forward on their quest to rescue the woman and unmask The Owl. That's the basic plot, and it sounds serious, but it isn't.

This is a comedy from start to finish, with parody scenes inspired by many films (including Jaws, Aliens, and Airplane). The Mission Impossible theme is used throughout the film. The film also revels in anachronisms; for example, a restaurant has can-can dancers. When David Chiang is fighting one villain, the background music suddenly becomes Rock Around The Clock, and their fight becomes more of a jitterbug than a fight. Crazy stuff. The DVD really needs a commentary track explaining everything, because an American like myself will probably miss many jokes that are based on material in Chinese culture.

There are nearly a dozen faces in this film which are familiar to kung fu film fans, in particular (aside from the three heroes) Yasuaki Kurata and Chen Sing. But there really isn't a lot of action. The first fight, a restaurant brawl, doesn't take place until halfway through the film. The film's climax, however, does have some good fighting.

I would have preferred a less silly (and more resolute) ending to the film.