Sunday, August 31, 2008

Movie Review: Half A Loaf Of Kung Fu

Every bit as strange as its name. Jackie finally gets out from under the thumb of Lo Wei by writing and starring in (but not yet directing) this action comedy. Saying the comedy here is a little broad is like saying Rosie O'Donnell is a little broad. This stuff is out there even compared to other Chinese comedies of the period, which aren't exactly known for subtlety.

Jackie stars as a layabout, whose dreams of being a martial arts expert come with soundtracks featuring Popeye's theme song and Isao Tomita scores! As he travels around the somewhat episodic plot, he pisses off various parties and picks up (for no apparent reason) a motley assortment of allies, including a younger wanderer with a penchant for fart jokes and an old beggar taking the Sam The Seed role. While the people around him do most of the actual work, Jackie mainly gets beaten up as he tries out the kung-fu moves he hears about while posing as a feared bounty hunter. He mostly survives out of pure luck, until late in the film, when he suddenly becomes more competent (but not any less of an asshole).

The plot here bounds from one place to the next without much thought to coherency, and in attempting to overcome the stoic nature of his previous roles, Jackie goes way overboard in the other direction in playing the buffoon surrounded by bizarre characters. Fight scenes are almost all played for laughs, and aren't anything special. It's better than many of his previous efforts, but you really have to be prepared to forgive a lot in the comedy department. He's trying to get to the point he would reach later on, but he still isn't there yet. Just one star. Next up: one last film before Jackie really hits the big-time, as he stars in Lo Wei's Magnificent Bodyguards.

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