Film Review: KUNG FU LEAGUE (HK 2018)

Kung Fu League Poster
Fei Ying Xiong, an indigent comic book artist, is romantically interested in Bao’er, but the head manager of their company, who also has a interest in Bao’er, prevents that from happening. … See full summary »


Jeffrey Lau

Aptly titled KUNG FU LEAGUE director Jeffrey Lau’s Kung Fu comedy action extravaganza hopes to capitalize on the success of the Justice League Hollywood blockbuster.  The league in the reviewed film is comprised of 4 well-known martial-arts heroes (at least to the Chinese).  They are: Wong Fei Hung (Vincent Zhao), Wing Chun champion Ip Man (Dennis To), martial artist Huo Yuan Jia (Andy On) and fictional character Chen Zhen, who was played by Bruce Lee in Fist Of Fury (Danny Chan).  Western audiences will recognize Bruce Lee and maybe IP Man, from the IP Man films, a total 4 in all.

The story centres on super geek Fei Yingxiong (Ashin Shu), a comic artist who is in love with his colleague, Bao Er (Madina Mamet.)  This love is the catalyst of the troubles that bring into his present time the 4 Kung Fu experts.  Bao Er is also fancied by silly acting Zhang Peng (Steven Zhang), the President of the company that Yingxiong works at.  Frustrated, Yingxiong makes a wish, summoning the masters on his birthday.

So the four masters are summoned.  The film takes a while for the 4 to figure out what is going on and that they have ‘time travelled’.  The film takes even more time for the 4 to meet with Yingxiong, which is the purpose of the summonin g.  So Yingxiong trains with the 4 with the sincere hope of winning over the girl of his dreams.  Whether he does so or how he actually does will not be revealed in this review.

The trouble with this plot is that the silly romance is insufficient a reason for the film to have any urgency.  There is romance betrayal and a kung fu competition at the end.  The fight scenes are well choreographed, most notable being the one at the film’s start in the pouring rain.

Lau’s film is action slapstick but do not expect the madcap antics found in Stephen Chow’s classic 2004 KUNGFU HUSTLE.  The comedy and laughs all nowhere close.  At best, KUNG FU LEAGUE is good for a few chuckles.  Though the premise of the film is superior, Lao lacks Chow’s madcap sense of humour and fast camerawork, though Lau has made comedic hits like ALL FOR THE WINNER and ANOTHER PANDORA’S BOX.

So with the most well-known characters of Chinese martial arts saga, each portrayed by a promising young action star, and putting them on screen together in a comedy-action blockbuster looks like a good idea but here proves that good ideas do not always workout.  The film will still entertain Kung Fu fans and the not so demanding viewer.  

The film is available on digital, VOD, DVD and Blu-Ray September 17th, 2019.  The video and film are released by Well Go USA Home Entertainment that specializes in a lot of commercial Chinese and Hong Kong movies.  They have a lot of other titles that are worth a look at.

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