The Kung Fu Kid (1977)
Cast: Chan Wai Man, Nora Miao, Tina Chin Fei, Tien Feng, Tung Lin, Chen Chuan
Cameo: Ho Pak Kwong, Chiang Kam, Yuen Cheung Yan, Yuen Yat Choh, Fong Hak-On,
Eric Tsang, Yuen Bun, Yuen Mo
Director: Lo Wei
Genre: Martial Arts | Drama
The Kung Fu Kid - sounds pretty generic, right? But how many kung fu movies have incest,
Old Master Q comics, gwailos getting whipped by Chinese hookers, characters named
'Well Hung' and 'Skinny Minny', and Nora Miao as a prostitute?
Chan Wai Man is an illiterate pickpocket, abandoned by his mother as a child and left to be
raised by his drug addicted papa. The film begins with his father's suicide, where eerie music
plays over an incredibly crude montage of stills apparently meant to highlight the hazards of
heroin addiction. Immediately after reading the suicide note urging his son to straighten up and
untarnish their family name, cops bust in and arrest Chan for various crimes he's committed.
After getting into a few jailhouse scuffles, Chan becomes known as a troublemaker, but he soon
wises up and becomes a model prisoner. His fighting ability and hatred of drugs comes to the
attention of a police superintendent (Tung Lin), who hires Chan to infiltrate a gang of drug
traffickers posing as denim goods manufacturers in exchange for leniency.
Under the alias Fang Min, he earns the trust of the ring's glamorous head "Big Sister" (Tina
Chin Fei), and becomes her confidante and number one bodyguard. Big Sister has him take
care of her business rivals with his fists, a feat he is a little too good at- he kills a few of them.
The cash rewards he receives enable him to enjoy newfound domestic bliss with his girlfriend
Siu Ying (played by Nora Miao as a wayward woman whom Chan rescues from a life of
prostitution and later falls in love with).
Chan is instructed to get a hold of evidence of the gang's crimes, and manages to break into
their safe and take the evidence (and some money for himself- old habits die hard). Before he
can leave the premises, Big Sister seduces him in her bedroom. When he sees the tattoo on
her thigh, he realizes (through flashback) that she is actually the mother that abandoned him.
Freaked out at the oedipal circumstances, he hightails it out of there.
Discovering his betrayal, Big Sister, her husband / partner in crime Big Brother (Tien Feng)
and their men ransack Chan's apartment looking for the missing documents; when Big Sister
stumbles on an old photograph and realizes that Chan is her son, the last remnant of her
Despite the usual depressing storyline, for a Lo Wei film, I found The Kung Fu Kid very
entertaining. It's cheap, cornball, and has some horrendous editing, but its flaws become part
of the fun. Chan Wai Man's name in the film is Chan Wai Man. His hair constantly changes
lengths; an amazingly careless detail to be sure, though it reveals the filming sequence.
It's evident while watching that the people dubbing the film are actually mocking it as they go
along. You can almost imagine the 1970's recording studio with a bunch of struggling actors,
giggling and passing around a joint as they tape their lines. Fans will find lots of faces to look
out for in bit parts and fighting roles, including Chiang Kam, Yuen Yat-Choh, Yuen Cheung
Yan, Fong Hak-On, and a young, long-haired (and leaner) Eric Tsang. Also watch for a
magazine in Chan's apartment with Angela Mao on the cover, and a giant poster of
Chan Wai Man himself on the wall!
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