AKA: Roaming Monk
Director: Cheung Wang Gei
Cast: Ching Ching, Choi Wang, Chui Chung Hei, Lee Bing Hung, Lin Hsiao Hu, Yee Yuen
Running Time: 85 min.
Do not wander into this movie expecting a Kwai Chang Caine. The filmmakers have done a great job at deceiving the audience by using this title, as the movie is barely about a wandering monk, but is instead about a young boy who enlists the help of a monk to seek out revenge against a sinister crime lord who killed his father and kidnapped his mother years ago. The movie tells us that the monk inexplicably wanders once a year, looking for trouble and hoping to get into a fight to teach the bad guys a lesson, but it can be assumed he has some predetermined location in mind due to the quickness of his steps and a look on his face that suggests he’s on an errand. This is also a monk who babbles out philosophical preachings to the child in hopes of enlightening him for the better, but who then contradicts what was previously said the next time he opens his mouth. And not to mention, he also carrys a yellow pouch with a swastika embroidered on it.
Surprisingly, throughout the first half of this film, the scenes play out with a certain calmness not found in previous chopsockies I’ve viewed. This pace is fine at first, but it is soon realized an entire portion of the film was spent on a small gimmick to show us how skilled the monk is. The second half has a more hurried feeling to it, trimming the story down just enough for an 84 minute running time. Even then, “The Wandering Monk” isn’t as unorganized or as sloppy as one would think (It’s not great, either). The filmmakers have also shot for some comedy, giving us a several silly moments here and there that aren’t really that silly. However, the most noticeable and enjoyable quality of this movie are the fight scenes. There is an abundance of combat here between the characters, and the director allows them to fight for as long as it takes until someone gets knocked down. But these extended periods of time do come at a small price- the fighting is not particularly original or inventive. Infact, these scenes are drawn out to such a length, some audience members may become bored with the repetition. They are the type of fight scenes that are good only for one viewing, and they exceed on that level of required attention. The new Venom Mobs’ DVD release includes a “Right to the Fight” feature, in which you can instantly skip to the fight scenes at the click of a button. This movie is meant for this special feature, and if you somehow strangely happen to be holding the disc in your hands- make use of it.
“The Wandering Monk” is not a very fun movie, and I am not going to recommend it. But I will give it credit for it’s pacing, organization, and, although bland, lengthly fight scenes.
Milkcan’s Rating: 7/10