AKA: Fangs of the Tigeress
Director: Lau Kar-Leung
Producer: Mona Fong
Cast: Lau Kar Leung, Kara Hui, Hsiao Hou, Wang Lung Wei, Gordon Liu, Wilson Tong Wai-Shing, Kwan Yung-Moon, Walter Cho Tat-Wah, Yuen Tak, Robert Mak Tak-Law, Wang Ching-Ho, Wang Sha, Ngai Tung-Gwa
Running Time: 119 min.
By JJ Hatfield
My Young Auntie is one of the best period pieces with Lau Kar Leung at the helm. His job was made a lot easier with a cast that included Hsiao Ho, Kara Hui and Dick Wei and the usual Shaw Brothers including Gordon Liu.
In order to keep a family fortune away from his evil younger brother, senior uncle marries a young woman who has worked for his household most of her life. He has always been very kind to her and as a favor she marries him to keep the inheritance safe until she can deliver the deeds to Jing – chuen, played to perfection by Lau Kar Leung. Even though Dai nan is quite young she warrants the title of “Senior” due to her position within the family.
Young Auntie is played wonderfully by Kara Hui Ying-Hung. Not only does she demonstrate why she was the first woman to win a Hong Kong Best Actress Award, she performs the fight scenes as skillfully and realistically, even better than anyone could have asked for! I have tremendous respect for Kara Hui. Lau took her under his wing and taught her how to showcase her amazing potential with too many different styles and weapons to count, but he also made certain she also had a chance to stretch a bit in her acting skills.
While Jing-cheun is out, his son (Hsiao Ho) returns home early and brings along several pals. He has been studying in Hong Kong and when he arrives he finds a strange woman in his father’s bed and she even claims to own the house! This turns into a great fight scene that damages and messes up the artifacts and calligraphy Jing – chuen has been lovingly collecting and protecting for decades. Although the fight is between Jing – chuen’s “Auntie” and Toa, Dai nan uses her position as a senior of the family to have Tao punished.
When Young Auntie has decided she needs some new clothes appropriate for her role as a senior, Jing – chuen sends a very reluctant Tao with her into town to buy new clothes. Though a family senior, she has never experienced anything like the wares and goods sold in town. She is positively mesmerized by all the colored lights, beautiful clothes and jewelry. Toa has no interest in shopping so he let’s Young Auntie shop while he waits elsewhere.
While spell bound by the wonders she sees in the stores, she is criticized as being a *bumpkin* with out-dated clothes and an old fashioned hair style. You must see this for yourself; so, let’s just say things don’t go as planned and before you know it Tao and Auntie are having an undeclared contest to show their kung fu abilities skills. Their competing with each other is a constant and amusing aspect of the film. When they arrive home Jing – chuen is near hysteria, and you really can’t blame him. He is very much grounded in the behaviors and actions of traditional Chinese and has great difficulty comprehending the changes around him. And the changes have just begun!
Third Uncle tricks his relatives and takes advantage by stealing the deeds belonging to Young Auntie. The only way they can make things right is by retrieving the documents that prove Auntie is the senior of the family, preventing third uncle from gaining all. Third uncle, his Godson and the rest of his gang are not about to allow that to happen so they form a trap. The resolution involves one of the largest fights involving individuals (as opposed to a war scene) and one of the best fight scenes in a Lar Kar Leung list of credits! Everyone involved in the constant changing enemy and weapon fighting play their part to perfection. The characters tend to fight along the lines of their personality and it works great! Lau does make sure there is some comedy however it works well enough to help provide material for the film and characters, good and bad.
The film’s third act is virtually non stop. “Auntie” puts the guys through a little fitness training and the rest of the film is well choreographed, intense multiple fights! The screen is filled with two or three of the main cast but you can almost always see other fights taking place around the actors. There is no shortage of action especially martial arts and martial arts with well over a dozen different weapons.
If it looks cool, it’s in the movie. Young Auntie is a film you will definitely enjoy and want to see again!
JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 9/10