Kung Fu Jungle (2014)

Rating: C+

Dir: Teddy Chan
Star: Donnie Yen, Wang Baoqiang, Charlie Yeung, Michelle Bai

The trailer for this is the greatest thing ever, and absolutely sold us on the movie. It goes, in summary: action action action action Donnie Yen staring intently action action action. Unfortunately, although probably inevitably, the film itself doesn’t live up its own promotional reel, being a paper-thin collection of clichés, linking some admittedly impressive action sequences. Kung fu master Hahou Mo (Yen) walks into a police station, confesses to having killed his opponent in a duel and is sentenced to prison. Three years into his sentence, he hears news of the death by beating of another forner master, and before long realizes the killer is working his way through Hahou’s former associates.

He convinces Inspector Luk (Yeung) that he can help track down the killer, but when the perpetrator, crippled master Fung Yu-Sau (Wang) threatens Hahou’s girlfriend (Bai), the vow of pacifism which our hero took, at her behest, begins to look perilously wobbly. Yeah, it’s the sort of story that falls apart if you look too hard at any aspect of it for more than two minutes: outside of movies, do the police ever let convicted felons come along with them on investigations? It’s also disappointing that Yen spends the middle part of the film taking a back seat to Wang, in terms of action. Now, Donnie is getting on a bit – he’s into his fifties now – so perhaps it’s understandable, yet it is also a bit of a shame.

Not that Wang is a poor substitute, and with Yen also working behind the scenes as an action choreographer, the fights as Fung works his way through his list are often impressive – a battle with swords particularly stands out. You don’t need to be a Nostradamus to figure out where the story is going, and lo, it ends in a lengthy battle between the pair in the middle of a Hong Kong freeway. Apparently, the sight of duelling martial artists is apparently so common there, that nobody bothers even to slow down. If you can handle that degree of nonsense, you’ll have a whale of a time; otherwise, perhaps just stick to the trailer.