The Young Master (1980) – 7/10 martial arts action movie review

Cast / crew
Producer (Presents credit): Raymond Chow Man Wai
Producer: Leonard Ho Koon-Cheung
Actor, Action Choreographer and Director Dragon: Jackie Chan aka Lung Cheng
Writer (Screenplay): Lau Tin-Chee
Writer (Screenplay): Tung Lu
Writer (Screenplay): Edward Tang
Action Choreographer: Feng Ke-An

The Young Master (1980)

On the day of a martial-arts challenge, the Red School’s star fighter is injured, and a young student has to take his place.


Martial arts showcase featuring very little in the way of coherent story but proved to be a breakthrough film for Asia’s pint-sized action god Jackie Chan. This is not a completely rounded film, it has no immediately obvious story (though you can work it out if you try and if you make up bits of your own) and the links provided to get from one fight to another are very lacking. But the fight sequences and martial arts prowess on display is simply staggering. Jackie also introduces his trademark balance between action and humour and it is this dual-pronged attack on the funny bone and any bone which raises this above most martial arts fare.

This movie contains mild swear words, adult dialogue, mild nudity, extended strong martial arts violence.

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.


Here, in his first movie production for legendary Hong Kong-based Golden Harvest, Jackie was actually so eager to start making the film – the first where he was also given complete freedom – that he started filming without a script. The film starts off very seriously but at the twenty-five minute mark, a hint of Jackie’s now traditional humour creeps in (when, after one boy is beaten up for not having his belt tight enough, all surreptitiously tighten their own belts) and five minutes later breaks completely into his current preferred style with a frankly completely remarkable kung-fu fight featuring the breathtaking and hilarious use of a fan by our favourite young master against a fat kung-fu student.

The movie ends, as it should, with a mammoth 15-minute fight sequence which Jackie only wins after he swigs a jar full of opium though the fact that his opponent changes into a dummy probably helped!

If you’re after anything other than astounding fight sequences coupled with a bit of humour then you will be disappointed.

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