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Gallants

1 rating: 3.0
A Hong Kong Martial Arts Action Movie

The surprise kung fu movie hit of 2010 is turning out to be GALLANTS, a modern-day kung fu comedy from directors Derek Kwok and Clement Cheng, and featuring classic kung fu action choreographed by Yuen Tak with veteran kung fu era stars Bruce Leung, … see full wiki

1 review about Gallants

NO Wires...NO Stuntmen...ALL SENIORS!!

  • Sep 6, 2010
Rating:
+3
Sleeper hits--God, how I love those type of films! Well, there really isn’t that much going on in the world of Chinese martial arts filmmaking save for “Ip Man 2” but 2010’s sleeper hit “Gallants” is a kung fu comedy that features a return to old-school kung fu choreography; no wires, no extravagant stunts, no stunt doubles. The film may seem pretty routine to the experienced Asian cinema fan and quite frankly it is; it is filled with slapstick comedy, some dramatic moments, and the usual master and students relationship that find some sort of redemption. What redeems “Gallants” from the pile of mediocrity is its excellent fight choreography that pays tribute to the old-school martial arts movies and it sure helps when it has quite a few surprises. Hey, it is fun to see kung fu masters in their retirement age take on the young fighters; so it can be one of Hong Kong’s sleeper hits this year.

“Law’s Tea House” used to be a martial arts school ran by a legendary master called “The Gate of Law“; now it is a rundown establishment being managed by a couple of old students Tiger (Leung Siu-Lung, Kung Fu Hustle) and Dragon (Chen Kuan-tai) after their master had taken a coma 30 years ago. Cheung (Wong Yau-Nam) is a young man who works in real estate who is now assigned the task of getting the tea house. Cheung is also sort of loser, as he used to play kung fu master as a kid but now he is always getting bullied at work and even outside of work. When his interest in kung fu is awakened after he witnesses Tiger fight off some bullies, Cheung is adamant to learn kung fu; he also becomes more motivated after childhood friend Mang (MC Jin) comes back into the picture and along with his master, is promoting a tournament. When Master Law (Teddy Robin Kwan) finally awakens, the group signs up for the tournament along for the ride is a young woman called Kwai (JJ Jia) and a mysterious woman called “Fun”…

              

Directors Derek Kwok Chi-Kin and Clement Cheng Sze-Kit’s “Gallants” does look like your usual zero-to-hero plotline but I am happy to report that the script wisely sidesteps such expectations. I liked the way the screenplay played the old guard and the new guard; a true underdog story, while staying close to the spirit of martial arts. Yes, it is nice to win a fight, but what matters the most is the fact that fighting is not about winning or losing; it is about what you learn and how you triumph over your own personal demons and fear. The film also makes a great commentary about tradition and honor, versus marketing and fame. Yes, most of the time, martial arts these days may lose some of its spirit with the establishment of several businesses that teach the art; they never teach the philosophies of the art and that it is a way of life for true practitioners.

The film is also full of slapstick comedy, granted it isn’t exactly that different from what we’ve seen before, but it does prove to be charming, fun and amusing as we see Teddy Robin Kwan turn up a funny and effective performance. Kwan is pretty short and it was real amusing to see him take control of the script for the time he is on camera. There is a romantic angle played on Cheung and teahouse helper Kwai, but thankfully, this never became the film’s central focus. The film sets its eyes on the development on the relationships between its main characters. I did like the ‘cartoonish flashes” the direction puts in to express the impact of the blows and a significance of a back story. It was a nice inventive touch that I thought made its impact on the humorous side of the film.

          

However, the film’s main draw would have to be the fight sequences excellently executed by ace choreographer Yuen Tak. The film has a lot of “Shaw Brothers” tributes as it gives roles to aging martial arts stars such as Lo Meng, Chen Kuan-Tai (Five Deadly Venoms), Goo Goon-Chung (Buddha’s Palm) and Chinese cinema sex symbol Siu Yam-Yam. Homages abound, from “The Teahouse” itself up to the camera work filled with zooms, framing manipulations and onscreen text that announces the cast (ala some Shaw bros. movies). The training scenes are spoofs and gags that has a lot of references to the classic martial arts movies of old. The folks who are performing the kung fu moves are veterans and it shows; the viewer gets to see each careful movement, feint and parry, kicks and punches. It was a nice touch to have no wire fu.

“Gallants” is a film filled with love for martial arts movies. My only complaint would be the film didn’t have much of a story, and it carries the staple of other films in this genre. But it is refreshing to see some unpredictable twists and turns; the film isn’t all predictable at all after its first impression. I liked the way the direction stayed true to its theme and closes in on realism rather than the usual ‘feel-good’ predictable conclusion. It is nice to see a film show a lot of respect to the kung fu genre, here’s hoping for more. Plus, it is fun to see older, oddball characters take on cocky, younger ones...

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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NO Wires...NO Stuntmen...ALL SENIORS!! NO Wires...NO Stuntmen...ALL SENIORS!! NO Wires...NO Stuntmen...ALL SENIORS!!

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September 08, 2010
I'm scratching my head and asking myself who came up with this idea... because it's brilliant!
September 08, 2010
I know. I just wished that this had a bigger budget. It sure helps when you have real-life martial artists in the film. Those guys are Shaw Bros. veterans!
September 08, 2010
I often wonder what Bruce Lee would be doing now if he were still alive...
 
September 07, 2010
Sounds good man, it actually sounds real fun. I will be dropping a review here for another fun one called "The White Dragon".
September 07, 2010
thanks, man...oh...Cecilia Cheung in the "White Dragon" or are you talking about the original?
September 07, 2010
Yeah the one with Cecilia Cheung, been on a Wilson Yip kick lately, I think it is because I re-watched all his films with Donnie Yen. But now that you mentioned it I could do both, I have a bunch I have written up but I am kinda spacing them out. Same goes for Movie Hype, I will be to busy to really write anything lengthy coming up. So I am spacing out the ones I have ready to go to stay busy in both your comm's. I will still be checking every one else and all your reviews and stuff, reading and commenting. That is the plan, still I will write that Machete review for you some time this week.
September 07, 2010
wow! thanks, bro.
 
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