Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

A friend of mine slips me the disc for ‘The Man from Hong Kong’, a flick from 1975 heeding from Australia that I’ve never heard of, and informs me that this is must see TV if ever there was must see TV. I respect this dudes opinion a little bit so I waste no time slipping the disc in and ‘The Man From Hong Kong’ wastes very little time showing this viewer love by letting us see a young, somewhat slimmer, though definitely still plump Sammo Hung. Big time action scene ensues with some Kung Fu fighting, a car being chased by a helicopter and an explosion. So far so good. Then the opening credits roll. Now as the song for the opening credits begins to play in its uniquely 1970’s style, I’m thinking I know this song. It gets worse when I actually start singing the lyrics to the song and I’m killing myself wondering why in the hell do I know the lyrics to this thirty year old song, but I can’t remember my wife’s birthday. Turns out this cut was ‘Sky High’ by one hit wonderband Jigsaw, a pop song that is so incredibly addicting that I cannot get it out of my head to save my life. I remember now having one of those K-Tel albums from way back in the day that used to have 20 songs on each side, and ‘Sky High’ was one of those songs. Damn that song. Damn Jigsaw. Our love had wings to fly. ‘The Man from Hong Kong’ was awesome by the way.

So Sammo Hung plays some drug carrier working for the scurrilous gangster Jack Wilton (George Lazenby) and needs to be extradited back to Hong Kong which introduces us to our title character Inspector Fang Sing

Leng (Jimmy Wu Yang) who is in Hong Kong beating the hell of some recruits in what I guess is ‘training’ in China. Then what I can only assume happens in Hong Kong, a perfectly good white woman just falls out the sky in her sky kite.  Inspector Leng introduces himself to the Australian Reporter named Caroline Thorne (Rosalind Speirs), takes her back to her hotel room and sexes her up real good. This has very little to do with the actual story other than it was a solid way to get a flying kite into the narrative.

Regardless, Inspector Feng gets to Sydney, meets a couple of cops, then beats the hell out of Sammo Hung in an extended fight scene trying to extract info from the man. Next he escorts Sammo, with the assistance of these two cops, to get extradited only to have Sammo get gunned down by an assassin which leads to another extended fight and chase scene. Then we meet Jack Wilton, an evil drug dealer and racist who says things like ‘Chinese makes the best servants’ and ‘I’ve never met a Chinaman who didn’t have streak of Yellow’, thus insuring his death. He also happens to be a kung fu master himself and another extended fight scene breaks out. Then during another fight sequence having nothing to with that fight sequence Inpspector Leng beats up a bunch of Wilton’s men, but suffers major injuries in the process leading to him getting nursed to health by the lovely Angelica (Rebecca Gilling) who stupidly falls in love with the man, thus sealing her fate. More fight scenes and chases follow leading to the big showdown with Wilton in his penthouse apartment which ends in a glorious explosion, because for some reason Wilton keeps tons and tons of live explosives in his safe. So things go boom and the cops along with our Inspector look up from the ground and laugh as The Man and his cronies burn to death with Jigsaw singing the lines ‘You’ve Blown it all Sky High’. How awesome is that?

There are a couple of things that make ‘The Man from Hong Kong’ very unique. One is that this is an Australian / Hong Kong combined effort that seemed to work very well, and I don’t know if they tried another which is really too bad. Another thing that is unique about this film is that this is a western film that starred an Asian actor that was actually allowed to show some sexuality with Western women, and that is EXTREMELY rare. We’re used to Asian actors being able to kick plenty ass on occasion in western films but it ain’t often that get to have sex with white women. Jackie Chan doesn’t, Bruce Lee didn’t, Jet Li didn’t even get to kiss Aaliyah or Bridget Fonda, and Chow Yun Fat doesn’t. So it is refreshing to see an Asian action star do what Action Stars are supposed to do which is kick plenty ass AND get plenty ass. That was over thirty three years ago by the way.

Now ‘The Man from Hong Kong’ is really barely a movie because what little narrative there was is only in place to string to together the huge number of actions sequences, which works for me. Under the dictionary for Action Movie should be the poster for this flick because it was pretty non-stop from start to finish. Jimmy Wang Yu might not be the best actor on the block but he is very athletic and did a fine job punching dudes, stabbing dudes, killing dudes and setting dudes on fire. A 29 year old Brian Trenchard-Smith directs with gusto keeping the action flowing and giving us some fantastc views of Sydney via that sky kite, or whatever that thing is really called. Now in his sixties, Mr. Blanchard Smith directs stuff like ‘In her Line of Fire’ and ‘Tyrannosaurus Azteca’. Oh where has the promise gone?

‘The Man from Hong Kong’ is proof yet again why the seventies was such a killer decade for movies. From the clothes to the music to the high cheese factor and the funky vibe, nothing even comes close to that decade and what those drugged out freaks were able to create and ‘The Man from Hong Kong’ embodies all that decade had to offer in spades.

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