If nothing else, that is an amazing title. Seriously, look at it! If there’s a movie that will make you sit down and watch it immediately, no matter what your doing, it’s a movie titled Kung Fu Killer. It’s exactly the type of title you need Don LaFontaine intoning over the trailer.
Released as Kung Fu Jungle in its native Hong Kong for some ungodly reason, Kung Fu Killer is exactly the movie you get when you mash-up a modern-day martial arts film with the route serial killer narrative you’ve seen in every cop show ever made. It’s Law and Order: Special Fists Unit; Criminal Martial Arts Minds; CSB: Crime Scene Bludgeoners. Okay, that last one kind of sucked.
The film stars Donnie Yen, martial arts superstar and one of the frontrunners in the “You Still Got It!” school of aging badasses (see also: Denzel Washington, Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson). He plays Hahou Mo, a martial arts master serving time after accidentally killing a man during a brawl. When a man named Fung (Baoqiang Wang) starts killing people in relation to mastering the fighting styles of boxing, kicking, grappling, weapons and qi, Mo gets the cops (headed by one miss Charlie Yeung) to get him out so they can catch this….Kung Fu Killer.
(Dear God, I love that title! I want to date this. I want to have sweaty, filthy, obscene pig sex with it until it calls me daddy.)
The fight scenes in the film are all incredibly over the top. Not to the point of the Raid movies, mind you, but still over the top. The kicking fight, for example, is the first fight we see the killer go one-on-one with somebody, and it takes place on a giant skeleton replica the victim is working on. The final fight, in which Yen and Wang do battle on the highways of Hong Kong is probably the highlight of the whole enterprise, with both me going all out a trucks and cars speed by. It’s a real sight to behold, and makes me hope that Wang ends up with his own movie one of these days (Unless he has already; I’m not all that knowledgeable on the careers of Hong Kong film actors).
The actors do the game best with the material they’re given, which if were being honest, isn’t that much to begin with. When I said this was a route serial killer plot, I wasn’t joking; you got your driven mad by the death of a loved one (Wang’s wife died of cancer), the clues he leaves behind being of historical significance (the swallow pendants he leaves behind as an honor/insult to his opponents), obsession with classical music (in this case the a Chinese opera whose name I’m blanking on right now) and general unhinged ethical code. It says a lot that Baoqiang Wang can still sell the hell out of the demented serial killer thing even if its ground so well tread that it has become a three lane highway.
The rest of the cast are all uniformly good, carrying their stock characters with the charm and talent of seasoned pros. There’s also a bit of Cameo Bingo going on, and I’m pretty sure you could fill a whole card if you knew your former martial arts stars. Teddy Chan directs the whole thing with minimal flourish, basically understanding we’re here to see what he’s filming, and not how he’s filmed it.
Overall, you get exactly what you want out a film called Kung Fu Killer. Go forth and watch it yourselves.