AKA: The Young Tiger; Little Tiger; Bell Bottom Fury
Literally: Little Intention Tiger
Director: Wu Ma
Producer: Cheung Ying
Cast: Mang Fei, Maggie Lee (Lam Lam), Stanley Fung (Sui Faan), Chen Yan Yan, Dean Shek Tin, Wong Pau Gei, Lau Kar Wing, Mars, Wong San, Fung Hak On, Ho Pak Kwong, Yeung Hung, Yip Wing Cho, Wu Ma, Law Keung, Wong Shu Tong, Lam Chi, Yen Shi Kwan
Running Time: 87 min.
I have to thank MPM for telling me about this movie; a few months ago, he and I were talking about old-school kung-fu flicks, and I said that the ones both made and set in the 1970s were my favorites. He informed me of Young Tiger, which I’d never heard of (at least, I thought I’d never heard of it). A month or so later I got my copy from HKFlix, and enjoyed the film. Then, just a few days later, I was scanning through an old video tape I hadn’t played in years. Stuff I’d taped off of TV in ’97, six years ago. I was surprised to see the first half of a kung-fu movie, halfway through the tape. Apparently something I’d taped a few minutes of late one night, but never got around to watching. Guess what movie it was? You got it: Young Tiger. As Bart Simpson once said, “The ironing is delicious.”
Here we have Shen Sin, the Young Tiger of the title. I should mention that even though that’s the name of the film, Shen is actually called “Little Tiger” in the movie. It’s pretty damn sad when US distributors can’t even get the name of the movie right, but that’s just part of the charm of old school flicks. Shen’s a hotheaded kung-fu nut who gets in over his head: during a friendly bout with a braggart rich punk, Shen beats the guy around, only to witness him being murdered later by thugs who’ve come to collect money. The thugs beat up Shen as well, murdering the rich kid and setting up Shen as the fall guy.
Shen’s arrested, and even though the cops grill him, he never mentions the thugs who killed the punk, he just keeps insisting he didn’t kill anyone. This is perplexing, but it doesn’t matter anyway, because Shen gets out of custody in one of the most inept and ridiculous escapes I’ve seen. Basically, he rolls over a table (very slowly, I should add), kicks a few cops, runs for a door, and half a second later, he’s scott free out on the street. No one even chases after him. Just imagine if this method was used in “The Great Escape;” the film would’ve only been 5 minutes long.
Shen meets up with his girlfriend, and tells her he’s going to clear his name. Meanwhile, the CID inspector Shen escaped from is out searching for him, and in a related plot, we see the gangster boss who ordered the murder of the punk and set up Shen. This guy apparently whores out his woman to blackmail rich guys. So we get to see this, with the chick sleeping with a heavyset guy. I should mention that we get full-on nudity here, something rarely seen in old kung-fu movies. The woman bares all; it’s almost too much to take, because she isn’t in the best shape. Most memorable (and by “most memorable” I mean “most mentally scarring”) is when she bends over in front of the camera, and we see that she needs a little trimming, if you know what I mean. Actually, make that a LOT of trimming. I guess it’s safe to say this is the uncut version of the movie.
The kung-fu fights are mostly old-school brawls, so don’t expect any well-choreographed, slick mayhem. Instead, guys basically just beat each other senseless. Shen Sin (aka Mang Fei) is a pretty good martial artist all around, but sometimes it’s clear that the actors he’s working with aren’t. You’ll see the occasional too-slow punch or kick aimed at Shen’s head, one that he can easily duck or counterattack. The fights pick up as the movie progresses, with the final 30 minutes being one fight after another. Probably the best action scene is when Shen Sin takes on 3 specialists on the rooftop of a multi-level parking garage. Unfortunately this isn’t the climactic battle, as there are several more afterwards, but this one packs more punch than any of the others, and looks like the most planning was put into it.
It wouldn’t be old-school if it didn’t have a funky soundtrack, and Young Tiger’s is pretty funky throughout. The music ranges from stoner-induced acid rock to Schaffrin-sounding orchestral score to break-filled grooves; sometimes it sounds like all three at the same time. The theme song is a weird mix of breaks, acid rock, and country twang. It’s no “Theme from Black Belt Jones” or “Theme from Master of the Flying Guillotine,” but it’ll do.
DVD-wise, the film print is crisp, clean, and widescreen. There aren’t any special features to speak of; the only perk is chapter selection. The audio’s mostly good, but there’s a little fuzziness around the edges. No subtitles, and it’s all English-dubbed. Shaw Brothers fans and old-school viewers will no doubt recognize many of the voices featured. The DVD’s pretty inexpensive, it doesn’t look like a bootleg like most other old-school releases, and it features the uncut version of the movie. So if you want to see Young Tiger, this is certainly the way to go (even though, for some reason, the manufacturers have placed a photo of a Shaolin monk on the cover). The film isn’t the best funky ’70s chop sockey (I’d say that honor goes to Chang Cheh’s “Chinatown Kid”), but if you want 90 minutes of bell bottom fury, you could do worse.
Joe909′s Rating: 6.5/10