knockabout with Yuen BiaoA Kung fu comedy by Hong Kong film legends Sammo Hung & Yuen Biao – Knockabout is an entertaining flick from the late 70’s.

You’ve got two brothers – Yipao (Yuen Biao) and Taipao (Bryan Leung) who are con artists.  Wherever they go they trick people out of money, food or anything they can, and if a fight breaks out, they’re into it!

After we meet the two and witness their handy work, they try to pull a swifty on Jia Wu Dao (played by Lau Kar Wing, who was Wimp Lo in Kung Pow!). Jia Wu Dao is wise to their schemes and rips them off – giving them a taste of their own medicine.  After their loss, the 2 follow Jia Wu Dao and challenge him to a fight and lose miserably, it is shortly after that they decide they must learn his Kung Fu and become unbeatable.

The two brothers begin their study under Master Jia Wu Dao when it is discovered that he is a wanted murderer.  Once everything is out in the open, Jia Wu Dao kills Taipao, while Yipao escapes.

From there Yipao vows to take revenge but first learns some more kung fu from a local beggar whom he calls ‘fatso’ (played by Sammo Hung).

A Very Light Hearted Film!

This movie is extremely light hearted and funny to watch, but it all gets very serious once Taipao is killed.  Within minutes though, Yuen Biao’s character Yipao seems almost unaffected by the death of his closest friend and relative and is back to his humorous ways.

This is a little funny as I remember thinking how interesting the film was going to get now that things were serious, but this doesn’t last long.  The light hearted back and forths seem to be seamlessly transferred to Sammo Hung’s character, as he and Yipao trade humorous anecdotes.

Yuen Biao and Samo Hung

The real star – The Martial Arts!

This is a martial arts film, so it’s not surprising that the film’s strength is the excellent martial arts.

At the beginning of the film the fights are not that impressive.   But as Yuen Biao’s character learns more kung fu, we see him doing more impressive things.

Even the idea behind Yipao and Taipao’s fighting ability is interesting – the two are trained to fight together and compliment each others movements!  This becomes a major weakness when Taipao is killed in the film, but leaves a good reason for Yipao to learn from Sammo’s character.

Once Yuen Biao’s training scenes start with Sammo we start to see some incredibly impressive stuff!

The scene where Yipao is skipping and performing movements is fantastic, he effortlessly pulls of one acrobatic movement after another, doing a series of somersaults and very difficult moves.

Yuen Biao's abilities

In this role Yuen Biao demonstrates some of the most acrobatic martial arts movements I’ve ever seen in a film, with great endurance.  There’s no wires, just an astounding physical performance.

In saying that though, the fights still had a light hearted feel to them in my opinion, and I didn’t feel the motivation there should have been behind Yipao to take revenge.  The fight was more of a physical showcase than an emotionally charged scene, but it seems to work for this film.

All in all, the action gets better and better right until the finale of the film.

My Verdict?

It’s a classic.  It has one of the most acrobatic performances you will ever see, its funny and has a lot of very talented people in it.  Check it out for sure!

On DVD –

Region 1 (US & Canada)
Knockabout on DVD

Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Knockabout [DVD]

Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
Knockabout on DVD 

More info on Movie Regions here.

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