Snake in the Eagle’s ShadowSe ying diu sau (1978)
Chien Fu is the dogsbody and punching bag for a local martial arts school but is eager to learn fighting for himself. He is about to find himself in the middle of a deadly battle of techniques as the master of Eagle Claw technique has been eliminating everyone who knows the Snake Fist technique and is only left with two to kill.
After failing to take up Bruce Lee’s mantle, producer See-Yuen Ng decided to move Jackie Chan into martial arts movies balanced with comedy. The result was this and, later that year, Drunken Master. Both are purely fight scenes with just enough story to justify them and a tiny bit of comedy here and there. The best comedy moment comes as Chan follows the two masters up a wall (onto the largest roof in movie history for the final fight: it’s open countryside!). They both ascend using near-superhuman ability and skill. Chan tries to follow but just bounces off. He leaves shot for a longer run up and, without missing a beat, returns with a ladder. It’s a very nice gag, brilliantly timed. As to the action, it’s mostly pretty impressive. There’s an imaginative fight with Jackie as a puppet, some very impressive technique with a food bowl (from director Yuen Wo Ping’s Dad), great physicality in the training and fight sequences and a decent, not overlong, final fight which even features what appears to be an unassisted triple jump-kick from Hwang Jang Lee. It’s BBFC 18 for no obvious reason though perhaps it’s because everyone has gigantic moles on their faces. It’s most disconcerting. Yes, that’s probably it.
This movie contains bad language and strong martial arts violence, real cat-versus-snake fight.
Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.