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Fearless Hyena 2
   |     review    |     notes     |     availability     |      
"Quiet, or her husband will find us!"

Jackie Chan mugs in Fearless Hyena 2.
Year: 1983
Director: Chan Chuen, Lo Wei
Producer: Hsu Li-Wa, Lo Wei
Cast: Jackie Chan, Austin Wai Tin-Chi, James Tien Chun, Chen Lui-Hui, Yen Shi-Kwan (Yang Yee-Kwan), Kwan Yung-Moon, Hon Gwok-Choi, Dean Shek Tin (cameo)
The Skinny: Despite being cobbled together from footage filmed prior to Jackie Chan's walkout, some scenes from other films, and brand new shots featuring a Jackie Chan lookalike, Fearless Hyena 2 isn't half as bad as it should be. The movie isn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but Jackie Chan's scenes are definitely worth checking out—if for no other reason than to see a superstar on the rise.
Review by
Calvin
McMillin:

     By all rights, Fearless Hyena 2 should be a horrible film on par with such patchwork disasters as Game of Death and Trail of the Pink Panther. Though the leads in both of those films died, thankfully, the reason for Jackie Chan's departure from this movie was far less grave, but almost as dramatic. Fearless Hyena 2 was set to be Jackie Chan's first film under a new contract with Lo Wei's production company. Though Chan starred in a slew of films for Lo, none of them were hits. With the future legend's film career at somewhat of a standstill, the noted director had no problem loaning Chan out for a two-picture deal with Ng See-Yuen's Seasonal Films. After experiencing a taste of box office success with the Yuen Woo-Ping-directed hits Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master, Chan began to have second thoughts about his new contract with Lo, which he felt pressured into signing after completing the final film on his initial contract, the original Fearless Hyena.
     Famously, Jackie broke his new deal with Lo (a purported triad member) by walking out on the sequel after filming only a couple scenes. How Jackie Chan avoided getting killed off by the triads and returned to Hong Kong to become a megastar is the stuff of legends, but what became of his abandoned film is an interesting story in itself. Proving to be somewhat more talented than most give him credit for, Lo Wei supervised a reshoot of the uncompleted film (with an assist from director Chan Chuen). By taking the footage from the 1980 shoot, incorporating some used and unused scenes from Chan's previous films, and hiring a double to bridge the gaps created by Chan's departure, Lo was able to assemble a sequel, Fearless Hyena 2. The final result is a surprisingly halfway decent film, aside from the climax when Chan's absence becomes blatantly obvious.
     In the opening moments of this sequel (in name only) to Fearless Hyena, the evil duo known as Heaven and Earth (Yang Yee-Kwan and Kwan Yung-Moon) are hunting down two fleeing martial artists. Heaven and Earth's motivation isn't anything new: the evil pair wants to "rule the martial world" and "eliminate the Yin-Yang Clan"—typical bad guy behavior. In order to outwit Heaven and Earth, the two brothers separate, taking their sons with them into seclusion.
     Flashing forward several years to the future, we find Chan Lung (Jackie Chan), a loveable scamp, living with Old Chan (James Tien in old age makeup again), one of the runaway kung fu masters from the prologue. As with his character in the first film, Lung is quite mischievous and tries to please his father by holding down an honest job, but to no avail. Lung is more successful scamming the local bullies than he is waiting tables for a local restaurateur (Dean Shek in a hilarious cameo). Elsewhere, Chan Chi-Pei (Chen Lui-Hui) is trying to raise his good-for-nothing son, Tung (Austin Wai), a lazybones who constructs an elaborate mechanism of pulleys and levers that allow him to get his morning meal and various luxuries without exerting much effort in the process. After some comic interludes featuring both cousins separately, Heaven and Earth come crashing down on the elderly Chans, leaving Lung and Tung with no other option but to unite and take on the nefarious kung fu masters themselves.
     The circumstances surrounding Fearless Hyena 2 add additional layers of analysis that just wouldn't be necessary in an "ordinary" film. The movie is not a true sequel and based on the footage that actually features Jackie Chan, it probably was never intended to be a direct continuation of the first film's plot. The premise is almost identical, though one wonders if there was ever any intention to have a parallel father-son plot to the James Tien-Jackie Chan relationship. It seems more likely that the film did not have these elements, and was instead meant as a semi-remake of the first film (much as Drunken Master redoes Snake in the Eagle's Shadow plot with several adjustments).
     Fearless Hyena 2 in no way ranks as highly as the first film, but considering its checkered history, it's a wonder that the sequel is even remotely coherent. The main draw of this flick is to take a look at the scenes Jackie Chan filmed prior to his walkout. One such scene involves Chan Lung engaging a local punk in a serious of bets, which escalates into an impressive game of acrobatics. That particular set piece concludes with a funny bit with Lung employing a shoe as a weapon, which seems almost a precursor to Chan's later propensity for using whatever's handy in his fight scenes.
     The supporting players do their best to keep the film lively when Chan is absent, but they can only do so much. James Tien and Chan Lui-Hui do a competent job in the fights scenes and a comic sidekick named Frog (Hon Gwok-Choi) tries to inject some humor into the proceedings, but none of them is a substitute for Jackie Chan. Perhaps the biggest problem with the film is the other lead, Austin Wai. His character's laziness is used as a plot point (Tung employs booby traps to defeat one of the villains to make up for his lack of skill), but the film could have been helped immensely if the filmmakers would have simply cast someone impressive like Yuen Biao or perhaps even one of the various Bruce Lee clones to pick up the martial arts slack while Chan is off-screen.
     How the filmmakers disguise the fact that they don't have that many real scenes with Jackie Chan is admittedly clever—until the final act, that is. The film's introductory scenes of Lung hunting for food in the wild are actually taken from an earlier Chan vehicle, Spiritual Kung Fu. Later, Lung dons a series of disguises, which actually holds true to the premise of the previous film in which Chan's character dresses up as various characters to hide his job as a fighter from his stern father. But Jackie Chan's disappearance becomes readily apparent in the final battle. In some scenes, a double is filmed from behind or hidden by some well-placed foliage. In other cases, the filmmakers insert recycled shots from the first Fearless Hyena to compensate for the lack of any new "final duel" footage. The cuts are in no way seamless as scenes featuring Chan's double will take place in a forest only to be suddenly interrupted by close-ups of Jackie Chan in the middle of a clearing.
     With lowered expectations, the film could amount to a fun diversion for those seeking an old school kung fu fix. The scenes with a young Jackie Chan are worth viewing, but in the end, Fearless Hyena 2 is really nothing more than a novelty. This is a professionally executed hack job, but a hack job nonetheless. (Calvin McMillin 2003)

Notes: • Dean Shek has a small but memorable role as an undertaker in the first film, and in the sequel, he has a great, but fleeting cameo as a restaurant owner (named "Jaws Four" in the dubbed version). When they first meet, Chan Lung not only recognizes Shek's character, but is stunned to learn that the man owns a restaurant as well. This leads the restaurateur to explain that he is not the man Lung mistakes him for, but is instead just one of several similar-looking brothers (one of whom is presumably an undertaker). Since Fearless Hyena 2 is not a direct sequel, it seems likely that this comical scene is actually deleted footage from the first film.
Availability:

DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and English Language Tracks
Removable English and Spanish Subtitles
Trailers

image courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video

   
   
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