Dreadnaught (1981)

Posted in Reviews by - January 26, 2014
Dreadnaught (1981)

Yuen Woo-ping’s second Wong Fei-hung picture for Golden Harvest is symbolic of his progression from the steady slapstick traditions of his 70s pictures to the more inventive hair-brained fight choreography of his 80s output. Kwan Tak-hing has a larger role here than he did in The Magnificent Butcher and he commands it with authoritarian aplomb. His noble portrayal of Master Wong is just about the only thing taken seriously. Even its psychotic killer story-line is handled with all the pastiche of a B movie slasher, unwittingly diced into areas of broad comedy. It’s chaotic but ultimately fulfilling as Woo-ping embraces far-out wackiness at every turn and explores some truly untapped territory with a cast more than adept at handling the pace. Yuen Biao personifies naivety as Wong Fei-hung’s reckless student Mousey who becomes the main target of prowling sadistic super killer White Tiger (played excellently by a creepy Sunny Yuen, who would later reprise the role for Woo-ping’s Drunken Tai Chi). Other delights include Fung Hark-on’s role as a tailor/assassin and a rather elaborate lion dance, although it is a shame the conclusion is so empty.

AKA: Dreadnought

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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