Gallants comes to DVD

Monday, 25 July 2011 09:20

“Gallants” is a martial arts comedy about a pathetic young office worker who becomes a man, and pair of older men who prove they still have what it takes. As punishment for his all-round incompetence, Cheung (You-Nam Wong) is dispatched with his tail between his legs to resolve a bitter property dispute. The stubborn owners of a tea house refuse to sell up, incurring the wrath of Master Pong (Wai-Man Chan), a devious real estate boss.

Rather than sticking to his brief, Cheung takes a shine to the unusual occupants of the cafe which used to be a martial arts club. They include Law (Teddy Robin Kwan), a long-comatose kung fu grand master, a pair of his aging students called Tiger (Siu-Lung Leung) and Dragon (Kuan Tai Chen), and Kwai (J J Jia), a pretty girl who hangs out there. Pong's lure of a kung fu tournament offers a possible way out, but the opposition is young and tough.

Gallants comes to UK DVDThis is quite a disarming little movie featuring loveable characters, exciting fight scenes and a simple plot with some bizarre details. Cheung's rise from zero to everyday hero deliberately distances itself from the more traditional (and frankly unbelievable) character arcs where a nobody defeats all-comers with decades more experience. This story is about a man who gains in confidence and some semblance of honour in the face of adversity, and yet still relies on his friends.

In parallel to Cheung’s arc, Tiger and Dragon stand up for their incapacitated master and his premises, drawing on their decades-old fighting experience. It is very refreshing to see such down-to-earth, humble characters play such a central role in a genre film. These are not sharp young warriors or wizened but sprightly masters; rather they are tired and out of shape but still competent, gutsy older men who refuse to bend to the will of a ruthless business man.

The movie does feature a shrivelled kung fu master, however; Law awakens from his coma half-way through the story and promptly takes charge of his ragtag band of recruits to beat them into shape for the contest. In general the comedy is light and amiable rather than hilarious, though the sub-plot about Law thinking he is living thirty years in the past falls a bit flat. Never-the-less, Kwan brilliantly portrays Law as a bossy, twitchy and above all crazy master who both commands respect from and triggers alarm in his troops despite his diminutive size.

The fight scenes generally stick to the same believable tone as the characters, but that is not to say they are dreary and fail to engage. Dual directors Clement Sze-Kit Cheng and Chi-kin Kwok steer clear of blatant wire work and supersonic editing to deliver convincing and flowing battles. When they do occasionally employ visual gimmicks they normally pay off, for example via the fleeting insertion of comic artwork to convey breaking bones and crushing blows. That sort of thing has been done before using flashy CGI (for example the x-ray skeletal flashes in “Romeo Must Die”), but here it is endearingly low-fi.

To sum up, this is a fun and entertaining action comedy with a fair share of quirkiness to keep it bobbing along. The less said about the movie's obsession with a pungent preserved duck the better, though!

A trailer is the only special feature included on the DVD; it accurately conveys the tone of the movie and should be sought out, if it sounds like it might be your cup of tea.

“Gallants” (2010) is out now, courtesy of MVM. The main feature has a running time of 93 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £15.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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