Young Master, The (1980) Review

"The Young Master" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"The Young Master" Japanese Theatrical Poster

Director: Jackie Chan
Writer: Jackie Chan, Edward Tang, Tung Liu
Producer: Raymond Chow
Cast: Jackie Chan, Wai Pak, Lily Li Li Li, Sek Kin, Yuen Biao, Tien Feng, Wang In Sik, Fung Hak On, Lee Hoi San, Chiang Kam, Fan Mei Sheng, Fung Fung, Ma Chao, Cheng Hong Yip, Cheung Hei, Johnny Cheung Yiu Wah, Chow Gam Kong
Running Time: 105 min.

By Numskull

Would it be considered heresey, sacrilege, blasphemy, etc., if I said that this movie is superior to Jackie’s most beloved ’70s kung fu comedy, Drunken Master? Well, it is, in my opinion…but before you tighten that noose (or, if you prever the medieval method, stoke that fire), please be aware that there is already a waiting list for executing me. James Cameron wants me dead for not seeing Titanic fifteen times, Jimmy Wang Yu has a contract out on my life for telling a Hong Kong tabloid about his lust for eviscerated mules stuffed with Spam, and Jeff “I say ‘low budget’ a lot, hahaha!” Bona himself recently sent a couple of hitmen to my doorstep as punishment for this review being late merely because I had to work about 60 hours this past week (at my real job). (By the way, Jeff, do you want their bullet-riddled bodies sent back to you, or shall I dispose of them myself?)

Anyway, this movie was a refreshing departure from Drunken Master, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, and Fearless Hyena, largely because Jackie doesn’t need any 90-year old men with hair growing out of every bodily orifice to teach him how to fight (that is, if the word “fight” can be used in reference to Jackie jumping around and making faces while his opponent stands there looking like a colorblind person struggling with a Rubik’s Cube). Also, Jackie’s character isn’t a juvenile delinquent, though the scenes where he’s under arrest would have been spruced up considerably if he were. “Fuck you, pig! Get your fuckin’ pig hands offa me! Fuck, man! Go fuck yourslef, you fuckin’ pig! Gonna sue your fuckin’ pig ass off, you pig motherfucker! Fuck you, you fuckin’ pig! Fuck!”

The last fight scene in this movie is more exciting than the one in Drunken Master (this one ONLY gets interrupted about seven times so some guy wearing glasses can pour water down Jackie’s throat. While he was fighting, I half-expected him to call time-out for a potty break). The part where that girl who was in almost every Lo Wei movie lets Jackie (pretty much a complete stranger) use her shower was quite stupid. Didn’t she learn from all those other movies? Remember, if you are a woman living in ancient China and you go for a walk and you get gang-banged by kung fu students who spend their free time getting wasted on tea and noodles, it’s your fault for wanting to take a walk! Oh yeah, Yuen Biao is in this movie, and he gets more screen time than he did in Project A or My Lucky Stars…but then, he kinda HAS to. That’s all for now, folks. Try not to sodomize any barnyard animals (they bite).

Numskull’s Rating: 6/10


While watching Young Master, I couldn’t help but think that there was something very peculiar about this film…I couldn’t pin my finger on whether this film seemed more like his older Drunken Master and Snake in the Eagles Shadow type movies, or more like a period piece filmed in the modern day, with higher production values, different camera angles, camera techniques, and story-telling approaches. By that, I mean that the villain seemed stronger, the movie more fast paced, and the fight scenes ultimatley more interesting. Then I understood!

If you ever wondered where the seventies era of kung fu film ended, I can safely say that it halfway ended here! This is THE transition between old Jackie style fight choreography and the more modern day fast paced stuff! In short, Jackie must save his runaway kung fu comrade and bring him back to his master’s school, which is not an easy task. Needless to say, he runs into a little trouble along the way, in the form of an escaped convict. But this is not your ordinary, “shank you in the back” convict. We’re talking about Whang Ing Sik, here, and he is shown nearly to the extreme in skill level, particularly when he escapes his captors…that scene was where the old school Jackie up and walked out the door and let a new era come inside. His kicking is GREAT in this scene, the camera angles highlight every move and tumble and fall to the highest level!

Now, the end fight scene. This scene was listed as one of the top ten Jackie Chan fight scenes by Jackie himself. Personally, things got interesting I think towards the second half of the fight, where Whang Ing Sik busts out some cool supermoves.

This film is inspiring fight footage. Period.

S!DM’s Rating: 8/10

By Ro

This is unlike any other old Jackie movie I’ve seen. He actually knows Kung Fu at the start and doesn’t learn it in 5 days from a crippled senior citizen. He plays a member of a gym where his brother, Tiger (the star of the school) betrays them for money. The master finds out and kicks him out, then Jackie follows to bring him back. In the meantime, Tiger gets involved in criminal activities that Jackie gets blamed for because they have identical white fans.

Most of the comedy is about Jackie running straight into the arms of the chief of police, then his son’s (Yuen Biao in a lovely cameo), then his daughter’s. I found this a lot funnier than any of his early stuff (or maybe I’m just getting used to Chinese humor). The bit where Jackie and the police chief bond over his dissatisfaction with his son is priceless. And the use of the water scooper to protect Jackie’s ‘dignity’ is extremely clever.

Anyway, there’s enough fighting and stunts to make any Chan-fan happy. The stunt of Jackie stretching his length between two walls and climbing up with this hands on one wall and his feet on the other has to be seen to be believed. And the final fight scene with the Master Criminal is awesome! Can this guy kick or what!!

All the fight scenes are much faster paced than his earlier movies and he started using props (he fights with a fan and a skirt, one bad guy fights with a rope and Yuen with a bench), which makes it more interesting. He doesn’t dub his own voice, but it is definitely my favorite of his early stuff. (I haven’t seen The Drunken Master yet)

Ro’s Rating: 7.5/10

By James H.

As you may or may not know, I’ve made a point to comment on the music in Jackie’s films. I can say that “The Young Master” has some of the best music to appear in a JC film. The reason: Holst.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go on. I am not really a fan of “old school” kung fu flicks. How can I tell if I am watching an “old school” kung fu flick you may ask. Well, the easiest way to tell is the camera movement. If you notice the camera zooming in (or out) really fast during a fight, or to see a facial expression, then you are watching an “old school” kung fu flick. There are other ways too, like all are set in rural China in the 1800s.

As I was saying, I don’t really like “old school” kung fu flicks, and this is one of them. I did, however, find it to be enjoyable. The only real problem is that when there is no fighting, it is boring. So, let’s skip the boring parts, shall we?

The fights are done superbly. They are increadibly choreographed, especially the finale. The reason these fights were so good was the editing. There are two or three fights in the film that look absolutley flawless. And there are others that are somewhat shabby.

If you’re gonna see it, go ahead, you should. Just use the fast forward button. Also, watch for an amazing fight about 30 minutes into the movie.

James H’s Rating: 6/10

By Dorgon

Young Master is like Led Zeppelin I. It’s like Queen’s first album. It’s like Cold Spring Harbor. What can see here is flashes of what Jackie will become. This is a classic not because of what is on screen, but because of what it portends.

The best fight scenes in this movie are the fight between Jackie and Yuen Biao and the final battle between Jackie and an actor whose name I don’t know. They both give off a sense of being very rythmic and choreographed whereas in later movies Jackie’s fight scenes feel smooth as if they were shot without any advance planning.

You can also see the growth of Jackie the comedian. I am sure most of the funny stuff comes off a lot funnier if it were not dubbed in such an awful way. I own the Tai Seng letterboxed/dubbed and the voice used for Jackie is ridiculously bad. It sounds like Shadoe Stevens doing a John Wayne impression poorly. A lot of the other voices are just as bad, especially the Yogi Bear like voice of the policeman who keeps asking for everyone’s sword.

This is a fairly quick paced movie with a lot of good moments, but it is still very raw. It is an important movie because of what was to come, but if Jackie Chan had never made another movie, it may have been forgotten, but we’ll never know that, will we?

Dorgon’s Rating: 7/10

By Marcia

I first saw this movie in English, and really liked it. Now that I have the subtitled version, the story makes a bit more sense. For those of us who enjoy the action (read: fight) scenes, the subtitled version has more to offer. The final scene makes more sense when pieces aren’t cut out of it, but I did find it rather dragged on. At least the stale tobacco water didn’t take effect immediately like it did in the dubbed version…

Part of the reason I adore this film so is the lion dance at the beginning; what a beautiful bit of culture! They bat their eyes so coyly. Heh. I also love the fights with fans, particularly when Jackie’s character first goes looking for his brother at the rival school. The little exchange between him and “Bull” as he’s leaving — though no words are spoken — translates to any language.

Overall, I’d have to say that there are some overacted parts, and the fights will occasionally drag on a bit too long, but this one’s a winner. There is just the right mix of comedy and action for me, and one of the first Jackie films I saw remains one of my favorites.

Marcia’s Rating: 9/10

By Shazbot!

A colorful and off paced film with good action and fighting, but lousy continuity. This movie is where JC is coming into his own. It is mostly a mish mash of things, as the whole movie looks experimental. It begins with a lion dance, which looked great even on a grainy video transfer. It captures a great moment of early early Sino culture.

Later, JC is mistaken for a murderer, which sets up a great tete-a-tete with Yuen Biao and his sawhorse. There is a great swordfight (reminiscent of Fearless Hyena) with the police. There is good comedy bit in the middle when Jackie ends up in the house of the Sheriff who is after him (a blueprint for the more complicated gag in Project A II). It results in a great fight with the sheriff and his daughter. The latter inspires him to don a skirt when he is losing a fight in town.

The final showdown seems out of place with its tone, as it is downright brutal, as if to show how much punishment he can take. Watch this movie for its action.

Shazbot!’s Rating: 5/10

By Tyler

Jackie was probably crying with joy when he started to do this film, first no more low budget films, no more “NEXT BRUCE LEE”, and finally freedom from Lo Wei (yeaaaa!). The film brings to use a great cast with Yuen Biao and Wei Pai, and our favorite old school corny comedy you’d expect from a Jackie Chan film. Everytime I watch this film I find new suprises and joy. Jackie also expresses his extreme athletic abilities by climbing up walls and a grueling Dragon dance. Kung Fu with benches, staffs, swords, pipes, and FANS. A Chop Sockey kung fu classic, one of Chans best films. The villain is one of the best kickers I’ve ever seen, the way he moves…it’s incredible. The last fight scene got a little annoying, with that guy always giving Jackie water then fighting again, it got a little tedious, yet its still very exciting. Buy it, it’s real good even if your a modern day kung fu fan.

Tyler’s Rating: 9/10

By Aloho

I first saw the regular version (No subtitles). Awhile later I traveled to a store called Suncoast and bought myself a copy of the Young Master with subtitles. That certainly helped, before I thought it was a drama! The film turned out very funny, but enough of that now, lets move on. The dragon dance in the beginning is delightful but no big deal for whats to come.

The first fight consists of Jackie wielding a fan. Afterwards, a load of men attack him with swords showing off the best swordsplay I have ever seen. Then Jackie fights Yuen Biao (!) both using sawhorses, those small wooden benches. After a hilarious bathing scene, Jackie escapes the blows of a sword and then gets his ass kicked from a woman using the fighting style called skirt kick. Skirt kick was later portrayed by Jackie after an acrobatics extravaganza.

To top it off is about a 15 minute fight with Whang Inn-sik. Although this fight showed off some quite good moves, I thought it was repetitive and it dragged a bit. One fight near the beginning I think uses wires really badly.

Aloho’s Rating: 9/10

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