Fearless Hyena may not be as widely appreciated, or as well known, as Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow or Drunken Master, but it’s actually a great movie and it definitely proves Jackie Chan’s genious in a very resolute way.
Jackie Chan stars as Shing Lung (the name is a slight variation on Jackie’s own nickname Sing Lung, which means “Already a Dragon” or “Become the Dragon”, depending on the translation) and once again we get to see him as that cheeky scamp that we’ve learned to love. He trains under the guidance of his grandfather, but although he’s quite good at fighting he’s not allowed to use his skills publicly.
Of course Grandpa has his reasons for this – he is, in fact, one of the few remaining practitioners of an ancient martial arts style, and the evil Yen Chuen-Wong wishes to eliminate all the survivors of this virtually extinct clan. But Lung doesn’t understand the significance of the situation and his disobediance eventually reveals Grandpa’s identity to his enemies, and results in his unfortunate death.
Lung hungers for revenge, but realises that he can’t defeat Yen with his fairly feeble skills, so he starts training under his uncle. In a sequence of textbook Jackie Chan exercises, Shing Lung tries to tie together the power of “emotional kung fu”. Those who masters this subtle style find strength while appearing to fall apart; they end up laughing uncontrollably (remember the “hyena” in the movie title?) or crying abundantly to make their opponents fall out of vigilance. And when Shing Lung finally masters this he’s ready to take on his enemy for the final showdown…Jackie Chan is absolutely radiant in this film, showing off all his physical and comic genious. It’s slapstick comedy at its best, with Jackie appearing as the village idiot – as well as in drag. Oh yes – in drag – and it’s hilarious!
But Jackie Chan always knows when it’s time to get serious, and serious he gets – the fights in this movie are top notch and there are so many memorable fight scenes that it’s hard to count them all. By any standards Fearless Hyena is a terrific martial art movie, that definitely belongs among the classic Jackie Chan movies!
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