Dreadnaught is a film about a boy and his cowardly ways named Mousy, played by Yuen Biao. Mousy has been copping some crap from the towns folk since he has no stomach to stand up for himself but instead relies on his friend Foon (Bryan Leung) to do the talking.
The pivotal point in this film is when Foon fights one of the bullies refusing to pay Mousy for his services. With Foon’s kung fu experience (learned from his father Wong Fei Hung), he makes short work of this seemingly tough guy and makes him pay up. It’s afterward that a man known as the Masked Murdered steps in and kills him.
Later the Masked Murderer spots mousy playing with a bell around his neck. Instantly the murderer is reminded of his friend being killed and decides to stalk him down and kill him. So Mousy must do his best to survive and escape being killed, so naturally he tries to learn kung fu from Wong Fei Hung.
Of course things get more tense as the bodies start to pile up, and the superintendent, Wong Fei Hung, Foon and Mousy try their best to stop this deranged murderer.
Yuen Biao plays a coward?
It’s not that uncommon for a guy like Yuen Biao to play the underdog, but you usually expect him to find a master and train to become a supreme warrior before the final face off with the villain. Although the story hints at him training with Wong Fei Hung this never actually happens, instead his family’s laundry kung fu seems to come alive with his anger at the end of the film.
I actually like the fact that he didn’t learn some abstract style or secret technique but instead used what technique he already had from his days drying laundry -although that in itself is pretty abstract.
Although this is a comedy it’s very serious especially as tensions rise when the body count starts to increase.
The Masked Murderer himself is a very crazy guy and his character comes across very effectively – as a dangerous but lost lunatic. I definitely felt he was as authentic a homicidal maniac as you could get.
The story itself, although revolving around the murderer, does a good job of telling Mousy’s struggle with confidence at the same time, especially when faced with a dangerous murder who could very well kill him! His progression to someone who steps up is told pretty well.
The Action & Martial Arts
Foon and the Masked Murderer carry the torch mostly in the beginning with fights and murders, showing off some pretty standard Hong Kong fighting action.
Yuen Biao’s performance was a little different -his acrobatic movements played very well with his cowardly hiding and running from the masked murderer and others. Of course it gets revved up a little once he actually starts fighting, and the real performance comes out.
To be honest though there isn’t a hell of a lot of action and it seems to be more influenced by the story and the characters than action. But what it does have is pretty nice.
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)