Actors: Donnie Yen, Charlie Yeung, Baoqiang Wang
Director: Teddy Chen
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Subtitled, Widescreen
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Well Go USA
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Run Time: 100 minutes
Blending martial arts with a serial killer narrative, Kung Fu Killer offers brief genre-bending originality in its premise before settling into predictable entertainment. There are some thrills to be found in the execution of the fight scenes, but the narrative offers too few surprises to keep the moments in-between entertaining enough to weave together a satisfying story. Preposterously unrealistic and blandly predictable, Kung Fu Killer features decent action scenes that aren’t quite memorable enough to outweigh the rest of the film’s shortcomings.
Donnie Yen reunites with writer/director Teddy Chen (Bodyguards and Assassins) to play
, a kung fu expert convicted
for murder after accidentally killing a man. When a serial killer named Yu-sae
Fung (Charlie Yeung) begins hunting down top martial arts masters in Hahou
Mo Hong Kong and killing them with his bare hands, Mo starts
a prison brawl in order to get the attention of the detectives investigating.
Claiming to know the men who will be targeted next by the killer, Mo is
temporarily released from prison to try and stop the murders.
For some inexplicable reason, Mo is given enough freedom in his release that a majority of law enforcement quickly assume that he is an accomplice to Fung. This subplot is quickly tiresome, punctuated and saved only by the occasional fight scene scattered throughout the film. Having perfected a series of different styles and weapons, Fung has molded himself into the perfect tool for revenge against all of these men, though we know that it will all come down to the inevitable showdown against Mo. The reasons for revenge are kept hidden as a revealing twist that attempts to humanize the villain, but ends up seeming more contrived than inspired.
Since the police procedural aspects of the narrative are dealt with flippantly, the film quickly becomes reliant upon the success of the fight scenes. Fortunately, they offer enough variety to keep the film entertaining, despite offering little in terms of depth. The film builds up to its climactic battle on a freeway overpass, showcasing the abilities of the film’s two leads. There are also many other veteran martial arts film stars to pepper the cast, filling this film with nostalgia and a modernized kung-fu narrative. It all sounds great, but somehow the execution remains less thrilling than my expectations for the film. It is only the disastrously bad films in Yen’s recent filmography which give this film the illusion of being better than it is.
The Blu-ray release does provide the full visual impact of these action sequences, including DTS-HD Master audio to capture each bone-crunching punch. All of this would be a great deal more impressive without being bogged down by bad police procedural and romantic melodrama, but fans can enjoy the film for the fight scenes alone. The special features include a making-of featurette, as well as a trailer for the film.
Entertainment Value: 7.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 5/10