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Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon
cast: Sammo Hung, Karl Maka, Carrie Ng, Chia Yung-liu, and Wanda Jessica Yung

director: Lau Kar-wing

100 minutes (15) 1990
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Hong Kong Legends DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
Purportedly, this is another of Hong Kong superstar (seen on US TV in Martial Law) Sammo Hung's unofficial tributes to the legendary Bruce Lee, yet, unlike the rotund Mr Hung's earlier vehicle Enter The Fat Dragon (1978), it offers far more than straightforward mimicry of Lee's martial arts' style or screen persona. Here we find Hung cast as 'mad dragon' Fatty and teamed with 'crazy tiger' Baldy (Karl Maka), both playing accident prone HK policemen, whose pursuit of triad leader Prince Tak, and crime boss, cocaine king Wing (Chia Yung-liu, alias Lau Kar-wing), results in failure at every turn and danger for their loved ones when the bad guys' hired killers (a pair of transvestites from Thailand!) attack Fatty's dad, and Baldy's girlfriend Lanky (Wanda Jessica Yung). Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon (aka: Shou hu fei long) is largely derivative, of course, with scenes very obviously cribbed from US thrillers like The Untouchables and Stakeout (both 1987), but its winning combination of knockabout slapstick routines and superior fighting sequences ensure this is one of the better comedy thrillers Hong Kong cinema has produced.
   As the Fatty stereotype, Sammo Hung delivers his perfect imitation of 'little dragon' Bruce Lee's fighting stances, weaponry techniques and even his war cries. Glamour is provided by gangster's moll Lai (Carrie Ng) and the Singaporean girls that Fatty and Baldy meet during their off-duty, compulsory vacation trip, where our heroes consider quitting the force to open a karaoke bar. And there's always a car chase, or an impressive showdown waiting just around the corner if you grow tired of the frequently silly comedy work. One aspect that marks this film (and for that matter, many of Sammo Hung's vehicles) out from the standard Hollywood action comedy is the physical abuse suffered by its female characters. Best known for her femme fatale roles, Carrie Ng is very much a victim in this film, as crooks and the cops beat up her character repeatedly, and the sexual assault inflicted on her by the heroes is played strictly for laughs. But whether this could or should be viewed as evidence of a misogynistic tendency, on the part of widely respected Hong Kong kung fu hero Sammo Hung, remains open to question.
   Although copyrighted as 2000 on the disc, this film was made back in 1990, as is evident from the distinctive fashions and 1980s' movie borrowings. It has been digitally restored and re-mastered for anamorphic transfer, enhanced at 16:9 for widescreen TV on this DVD release, which has a choice of Cantonese or English-dubbed soundtracks, and English subtitles. High quality disc extras include: The Weapons Master, an exclusive interview with director and co-star Lau Kar-wing; Partner In Crime, an exclusive interview with co-action director Ridley Tsui; a text-only essay about Sammo Hung's professional connections to Bruce Lee; an info-packed commentary track by film expert Bey Logan; plus a batch of trailers for other worthwhile releases on this label.
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