Director: Johnnie To Kei Fung
Cast: Aaron Kwok Fu Sing, Ti Lung, Maggie Cheung Man Yuk, Paul Chun Pui, Jacqueline Wu Chien Lien, Kenneth Tsang Kon, Eddie Cheung Siu Fai, Wong Yat Fei, Tin Ching, Chu Tiet Wo, Cheng Ka Sang, Johnny Cheung Yiu Wah, Hau Woon Ling, Benny Lai Keung Kuen, Leung Kai Chi, Ng Wui, Wong Sun, Yuen Ling To
Running Time: 90 min.
By JJ Hatfield
If you experience deja vu while reading it is likely because this is a re-make of The Disciples of Shaoli made by the Shaw Brothers in the mid – seventies.
After his father dies, a destitute young man sets out to find an old friend of his father’s and hopes of a better life. He manages to find the man (Ti Lung) who is foreman at a dye factory and gives him a bed and a job. Perhaps even more important – he gives him a pair of shoes. There are those in the village who do not want the factory to succeed and will stop at nothing to obtain the secrets that have made the business so profitable. Several attempts are made to buy the factory, but the owner (Maggie Cheung) isn’t interested despite hints of threats. She is a strong determined and decisive character in the film. If not for her talent the movie would not have been nearly as palatable.
When something does go wrong, the Kid administers his own kind of retribution, which unfortunately doesn’t work out so well. Before long, he is caught up in multiple schemes and must decide what is really important to him. His transformation in act and deeds is fueled by the lure of things to possess. To forget his near treachery he drowns his sorrows in alcohol.
There is really only one thing wrong with The Bare Footed Kid: the Bare Footed Kid, as played by Aaron Kwok. The only reason I rated The Bare Footed Kid a 6.5 was because of the fine efforts delivered by Ti Lung (A Better Tomorrow series, Drunken Master 2) and Maggie Cheung (Hero, with Jet Li, The Iceman Cometh), both veteran actors in a range of films including period pieces. They deliver excellent performances. However, they needed a “kid fighter” and there was no one to be found, apparently, besides Aaron Kwok. Enter Liu Chia Liang/Lau Kar Leung who some how managed to create the illusion that Kwok could fight, and fight fairly well, definitely not an enviable or simple task.
It was surprising and a bit disappointing to see the use of so much wire-fu, but apparently that was the only way Lau Kar Leung could make it appear Kwok had a clue about martial arts, and was in good enough shape to carry it out. Fortunately it was enough to pass off Kwok without changing the plot.
I also didn’t like the serious use of wires with a fight with Ti Lung. Granted he wanted to show the Kid a whole lotta fighting skills in a very short period of time but it was just too much. Ti Lung was only around 46 when he was in this movie–plenty young enough to do almost all of his fighting without the wires.
Nevertheless, his role as foreman and friendship with the owner adds some interest to the film. He also has a *solo* fight with about a hundred henchmen who are there to stop his interfering with the crime business. Ti Lung is an excellent actor and a damn good fighter and it’s always a thrill to watch him fight.
The ending is worth waiting for, courtesy of Lau Kar Leung. His reputation for amazing fight choreography and long fight sequences does not disappoint! Two nearly back-to-back fights is typical as is his use of unusual but deadly weapons. Without giving away the ending, I was disappointed in one aspect of the Kid’s choices. Viewers will just have to watch the movie to understand my reference.
JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 6.5/10 (almost 7/10)