Jackie Chan & The Kung Fu Kid

Friday, 13 August 2010 12:55

Hoping to catch the wave of interest in family-friendly martial arts films generated by the new remake of “The Karate Kid”, this movie features an extended cameo by genre hero Jackie Chan. The star of the piece, however, is Yishan Zhang who, in an inspired bit of script writing, plays Zhang Yi-Shan. Yi-Shan is a sixteen-year-old school boy who is utterly obsessed with Chan, and dreams about becoming his disciple.

Ridiculed at school by his peers for failing his grades, Yi-Shan vows to seek Chan out, be taught kung fu by him and then return to punish those who have teased him. On a trip to supposedly stay with his grandparents in Beijing, he instead opts to blindly wander off in search of his idol. Along the way he encounters a dangerous gang who believe he really is associated with Chan, and consequently kidnaps him for a huge ransom. This film, directed by Gangliang Fang and Ping Jiang, is what I would term “kung fu light”, much like the original “The Karate Kid”. It is aimed squarely at teenagers and consequently features no blood, guts or limb-snapping. That does not mean it is without merit and of no interest to adults, though.

Jackie Chan and the Kung Fu Kid on DVDFor starters, Chan features in a couple of solid fight scenes, which are actually part of a movie we witness being filmed within this movie (a film within a film, if you will). The story of Yi-Shan’s bumbling journey is quite engaging and he meets some interesting characters, some helpful, some not so benign. His experience takes him to a monastery, the seedier back streets of Beijing and also to a movie studio.

The two negative aspects of the picture are that Yi-Shan is a fairly unpleasant character most of the time. He is designed to be an impudent, self-interested little oik, seeking out Jackie to the detriment of everyone else, but as he has no redeeming qualities it means the viewer never really gets behind him. We just want to see Jackie, too!

Talking of whom, the other minus point is that Chan simply is not in the film enough to warrant the cheeky re-titling of this DVD. It is better known as “Looking for Jackie”, which sums the plot up much better and stands less chance of misleading would-be purchasers. Still, if, like Yi-Shan you are a Jackie Chan nut and have to own everything he has featured in, then his limited time on-screen (not to mention an intentionally hilarious fake moustache) probably justifies your interest. And at least the title is more appropriate than the one handed the USA: “Jackie Chan: Kung Fu Master”

Despite not being especially likable, Yi-Shan is quite a capable martial artist in his own right, and his acrobatic skills sometimes help him get out of scrapes, but just as often cause him to land in deeper trouble! The story never sits still for long, and it delivers some worthy advice to youngsters about patience, altruism and dedication without being too preachy.

The preview DVD did not have any special features, and the commercial release appears to be the same, which is a little remiss of the makers. Surely a joint interview with Yishan Zhang and Mr Chan would have added some value to the package?

Jackie Chan and the Kung Fu Kid (2009) is out now on DVD, courtesy of Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment. The running time of the main feature is 85 minutes approx, certificate ‘12’ and the movie retails for £12.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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