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Kung Fu Jungle

Kung Fu Jungle

Donnie Yen ventures into the Kung Fu Jungle.

Chinese: 一個人的武林
Year: 2014

Teddy Chan Tak-Sum


Catherine Hun, Alex Dong, Song Ning


Lau Ho-Leung, Mak Tin-Sue, Teddy Chan Tak-Sum


Donnie Yen Ji-Dan, Yuen Bun, Yan Hua, Stephen Tung Wai


Donnie Yen Ji-Dan, Wang Baoqiang, Charlie Young Choi-Nei, Bai Bing, Alex Fong Chung-Sun, Xing Yu, Yu Kang, Louis Fan Siu-Wong, Teddy Chan Tak-Sum, Andrew Lau Wai-Keung, Kirk Wong Chi-Keung, Mang Hoi, Peter Kam Pui-Tat, David Chiang, Raymond Chow Man-Wai, Deep Ng Ho-Hong, Ji Huanbo, Jesssica Wong, Christie Chen, Soi Cheang Pou-Soi, Tsui Siu-Ming, Yuen Cheung-Yan, Sharon Yeung Pan-Pan, Joe Cheung Tung-Cho, Dion Lam Dik-On, Steve Chan Wai-Hung, Wong Wai-Fai, Chow Suk-Wai, Alex Cheung Kwok-Ming, Tony Leung Siu-Hung, Lee Tat-Chiu, Kinson Tsang King-Cheung, Roy Szeto Wai-Cheuk, Susan Chan Suk-Yin, Derek Kwok Chi-Kin, Yuen Bun, Bruce Law Lai-Yin, Billy Chan Wui-Ngai, Yan Hua, Yeung Ching-Ching

The Skinny: It’s got DONNNNIIEEEEEEE, Wang Baoqiang as a surprisingly strong baddie and some genuine martial arts cinema love. Kung Fu Jungle is more generic than special, but it’s got the action that genre fans want – minus the silliness they so desperately don’t. Good for what it intends to be.
by Kozo:

It’s a Kung Fu Jungle out there. Apparently. Donnie Yen returns to badass form with this Teddy Chen-directed and EEG-produced martial arts film featuring a few noteworthy details alongside plenty of crowd-pleasing DONNNNNIEEEEEE action. Once again, Donnie gets a made-to-order character in Hahou Mo, a modern-day kung-fu master who’s righteous and wise and possesses only a minor anger problem to mar his otherwise insurmountable scads of awesome. Oh yes, he’s also a prison inmate, but his incarceration (he volunteered for his time in the joint) is actually proof of his kickassery. This is a Donnie Yen that’s free from goofy shtick and wannabe-inspirational mawkishness, and he can still destroy whole rooms of people if they so much as look at him wrong. This Donnie is large, in charge and not to be messed with. If you’re a hardcore fan (especially one that resides in the West), then Kung Fu Jungle is the movie you’ve wanted – provided that you care about action waaaaay more than stuff like story, character or dialogue.

Oh, super bonus: The non-action stuff isn’t all that bad. Granted, it’s still more generic than exceptional, but little in Kung Fu Jungle embarrasses, which is a massive step up from that Iceman thing that happened some months ago. When we first meet Hahou Mo, he’s turning himself in at a police station after killing someone. How super righteous of him! Flash-forward some years and a mysterious murder has Inspector Luk Yuen-Sum (Charlie Young in a token female role) stumped. However, after hearing about the crime on the prison TV and stomping multiple men in a sweaty prison brawl, Mo requests a meeting with Yuen-Sum. He reveals that the murder victim was a martial arts master and offers to help in the investigation in exchange for a furlough, though he does keep a few cards close to his chest. Besides helping fight crime, Mo hopes to protect his longtime love Sinn Ying (Bai Bing), and he may know a little more about the killer, semi-crippled martial arts upstart Fung Yu-Sau (Wang Baoqiang), than he’s letting on.

Kung Fu Jungle possesses some narrative cleverness that makes its generic “cops chase martial arts baddie” story better than it should be. Besides obscuring Hahou Mo’s motives (don’t worry, he’s really a super good guy), the script offers a martial arts movie structure as Fung Yu-Sau takes on master after master while the cops follow in hot pursuit. Even better, each throwdown between Fung Yu-Sau and his targets allows for different martial arts styles to get a spotlight – and many of the faces coming and going throughout the film hail from martial arts movie lore. Kung Fu Jungle is an open valentine to the kung-fu movie genre, and features cameos by noted actors, action directors and filmmakers, from Yuen Cheung-Yan and Mang Hoi to David Chiang, Sharon Yeung Pan-Pan and long-retired Golden Harvest founder Raymond Chow. Even late personalities like Simon Yuen and Lau Kar-Leung appear via TV, along with Jackie Chan who for some reason couldn’t appear in person to give Donnie props. Directors and other supporting filmmakers also show up in fleeting cameos. If you can identify everyone, EEG will give you a prize.

The film’s status as a knowing tribute helps excuse its flaws, which include but are not limited to dodgy CGI, stock characters and strange plot developments that don’t really work. At one point, Yuen-Sum uses the order of the crimes to clairvoyantly deduce where Yu-Sau is storing the spirit tablets of his intended victims. What? Also, the cops are pretty idiotic throughout this whole mess, leaving only Hahou Mo as the one who can deliver True Justice™. And deliver it he does, in inimitable righteously-glowering Donnie Yen style, though the Yenster does lay off the preening thing this time around. In response, Wang Baoqiang acts up a sweaty storm as Fung Yu-Sau, but his extreme histrionics are a good thing. Wang has the physicality and moves (he trained with the Shaolin Temple) down, and even when he’s grimacing and overplaying the menace, his eyes transmit acres of emotion. Despite looking like a goofy emo kid, Wang Baoqiang has the complete package: He can do drama (Touch of Sin), comedy (Lost in Thailand) and even esoteric oddball stuff (Mr. Tree). Kung Fu Jungle is just a stroll in the park for him.

In many ways, Kung Fu Jungle is really Wang Baoqiang’s show, since he actually gets more fighting screen time than Donnie Yen does. When Donnie does cut loose, though, you get what you paid for. The action here is good stuff, with strong impact, varying styles and less of the MMA found in Donnie Yen’s recent films. Highlights include a big opening brawl at the prison, where Donnie takes on up to twenty men, and also the ending, which pits Donnie versus Wang Baoqiang in a super-long fists, kicks and weapons throwdown in the street. Surprisingly enough, the final fight actually delivers suspense in that it seems reasonable that Wang Baoqiang could actually defeat Donnie Yen – a far cry from the usual one-sided beatdowns Donnie has subjected Collin Chou and others to. How magnanimous of him! Overall, Kung Fu Jungle is not a special film but it’s a solid genre flick that should be well-received by those looking for good action with few pretensions or distracting chaff. Sound like your cup of tea? Then viva Donnie and viva his fanbase, because Kung Fu Jungle is for you. (Kozo, 10/2014)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Vicol Entertainment Ltd.
2-Disc Set
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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