(courtesy of freecovers.net)
Directed by Huang Feng
Hapkido is the story of three Chinese students studying the martial arts in Korea during the turbulent 1930’s. When they run afoul of some overzealous Japanese bullies their Hapkido Master, Shih Kung Chan (Ji Han Jae) prepares them to go back to China to spread Hapkido and try and unite the martial arts world through respect and friendship. With the blessings of their Master and their senior student ( Whang in Sik), Kao Yu Ying ( Angela Mao), Kao Chang (Carter Wong), and the hot-headed Fan Wei(Sammo Hung) travel back to China to spread the teachings of Hapkido. Kao Chang visits various kung fu schools to announce their plans to teach and to pay respects to the elder Masters, while Fan Wei beats up a member of the Japanese Black Bear dojo for bullying a young girl. This creates strained relations and the Black Bear dojo tries to destroy the Hapkido dojang through intimidation, bullying, and aggression. Kao Yu Ying and Kao Chang try to play peace maker until Kao Chang is brutally beaten by the Black Bear school and Fan Wei is killed in an ambush inside an abandoned warehouse. Kao Yu Ying writes a letter to her teacher to ask for advice and exacts a little revenge by destroying the students at the Black Bear School. Finally, Kao Chang is trapped and killed, and Yu Ying’s senior student (Whang In Sik) arrives to help her exact bloody revenge on the Black Bear School!
Kung Fu Content:
Action director Sammo Hung delivers the goods in this classic!!! Not only are the fights plentiful , they are emotionally charged and the viewer gets to see some Hapkido! Sammo, Angela, and Carter got to train with one of the legends of Hapkido, Ji Han Jae for this movie, and one of the top exponents of the art and kicker extraordinaire Whang In Sik appears as well. The future “Queen of Kung Fu” Angela Mao Ying looks deadly, precise, and full of fire in her fight scenes ( reminiscent of her other Sammo Hung choreographed movies) and really brings the goods to this one. Sammo Hung as Fan Wei also shows some of the brutality that would characterize his late 1980’s directed and choreographed action movies and we get to see a young Sammo doing his trademark double jump kick in the Hapkido dojang!!! Carter Wong appears to be relaxed and poised in his fight scenes and this style of movie fighting really brings out his strengths (he is a black belt in several arts). Since Whang In Sik comes in to help Yu Ying we get to see some of his great kicks, but he seems to be somewhat restrained as his character is not really fleshed out. This is a great vehicle for Hapkido, not only as a powerful Korean fighting art, but as a brutal and beautiful cinematic fighting art as well. Sammo Hung and Huang Feng were a great director-action director combo and this movies showcases that great cinematic collaboration.
Hapkido is a great movie to pop in on a Friday or a Saturday night! It has a good story, good acting, and GREAT fight scenes. If you are a Angela Mao fan (and everyone should be, right) then you owe it to yourself to own this movie. If you are new to the old school kung fu film genre, you need to watch and see one of the first lady butt kickers in a breakout performance.
(images courtesy of filmjournal.net, kungfucinema.com, hkcinema.co.uk)