Thursday, November 5, 2015

Film Review: Kung Fu Killer (2014)

Kung Fu Killer (aka Kung Fu Jungle) (Review)
China/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...action fans will not be disappointed."

When a vicious killer (Wang Baoqiang) begins challenging retired martial arts masters to deadly duels, Hahou Mo (Donnie Yen), a martial arts expert incarcerated for manslaughter, is released to catch the culprit...

Kung Fu Killer is a very simple film. In fact, that's practically all you need to know about the film's story — it's that simple. Our vicious killer goes by the name Fung Yu-Sau. He goes around challenging the top martial artists in their respective disciplines – boxing, kicking, grappling, etc. Hahou knows this and convinces the police to release him so he can help capture Fung. Hahou and the police trail Fung and occasional clash, piecing together the reasoning for his crimes and Hahou's true intentions. It leads to an epic battle and satisfying conclusion.

Kung Fu Killer is a film you'd watch for the action. The story isn't terrible, but it isn't great, either. There are a few character conflicts here and there, but most of the film relies on simplicity. It jumps from one fight to another without much character or storytelling. Fortunately, the story works well enough under these circumstances. Although there isn't much depth, it does buildup an effective conflict between Fung and Hahou — a rivalry of sorts. Even more fortunate: the action sequences are splendid. There's a variety of fighting styles, like boxing, kicking, weapons and so on. Thanks to the excellent choreography and variety, there's rarely a dull moment throughout this film. Unless you're looking for something utterly realistic, action fans will not be disappointed.

The acting is good — nothing terrible, nothing great. Wang Baoquiang can be a little over-the-top at times, but I think he nailed the villain role well enough. Donnie Yen, on the other hand, can be underwhelming at times — he just seemed lacking in emotion. The film features a robust supporting cast, including many familiar faces from classic films — even some faces I didn't recognize! I liked the cameos I recognized and I feel hardcore martial arts fans will love all of them.. The film is shot well, the lighting is vibrant and the camerawork is efficient. Direction Teddy Chan crafts a very well-paced and engaging action film — an accomplishment considering the thin plot. Action director Donnie Yen excels in delivering a plethora of versatile action scenes, always keeping the audience on its toes.

Overall, Kung Fu Killer is a great action film. The story and characters leave something to be desired, but the film's masterfully-crafted actions scenes, fast pace, and engaging storytelling will keep you seated from beginning to end. If you're looking for something action-paced, this is for you. It's not on par with The Raid 2 or Ip Man, but it's certainly an improvement over Special ID.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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