Disney Kung Fu (only with copious amounts of profanity and some neck snapping)
The Story: A cute, dirty little street urchin, known only as The Kid (Wong Yat Lung), crosses paths with Constable Chin Ta Khan (Leung Kar Yan- Eagle Claw, Knockabout, The Victim), who is being attacked by a gang he has gathered evidence against. The Kid insults the gang, he and Chin instantly form a bond, and escape from the gang so Chin can heal his previously wounded body. After rescuing a girl (from some men who loaned her money and now want her to become a prostitute) and some more bonding, Chin and the Kid hole up for the night, but are attacked by the gangs leader Ba Tin, who Chin even not in a wounded state is no match for. They are saved by Old Fox (Simon Yuen- Snake in the Eagles Shadow, Drunken Master, Buddhist Fist, Dance of the Drunken Mantis) a foul mouthed, wisened kung fu master of the elusive Sleeping Style. Old Fox takes the two under his wing (although The Kid is reluctant, resulting in some comic foiling), teaching Chin the Sleeping Style forms, Man, Monkey, Bird and Fairy/Woman so that he can deafeat the evil Ba Tin. Along the way, they are reunited with the girl they rescued, and every time they run into town for wine, end up saving her from thugs. Eventually, we are set for the final showdown between Ba Tin and Chin, with The Kid throwing a kick or two.
The Film: Now, the success of Jackie Chan's Drunken Master, not only made a star out of Chan, but a breakout star of Simon Yuen. Yuen is the father of esteemed martial arts director Yuen Woo Ping (Crouching Tiger, Iron Monkey, In the Line of Duty 4), and a true life martial arts expert, whose screen charisma was so strong, despite his pudgy frame and age, had audiences clamoring for films with Yuen as a dirty old kung fu master. He was actually so mobbed by fans (and Triad film producers) during the filming of Sleeping Fist (1978), he had to change hotels. Yuen is doubled somewhat in fight scenes, but considering his age and the fact that he would be dead in two years (plus does anyone complain when Sean Connery is doubled in a James Bond movie- I don't think so?) it is understandable. Still, he is a central figure in classic martial arts films, one of the top identifiable character actors of the genre, and Sleeping Fists is one of his big films.
One cannot discount the other talent of Sleeping Fists, Leng Kar Yan and the acrobatically, double-jointedly inclined kid Wong Yat Lung. Both are solid performers in their own right, and the duo would prove so popular with Sleeping Fist that they and director Yip Wing Tsui would team up again with Thundering Mantis.
Sleeping Fist is a light, more comedic, and charming kung fu film. Although I am not very big on such films and prefer my kung fu a little more serious or wild, Sleeping Fist is still so well paced and infused with enough character that I really didn't mind the cute stuff as much as I usually would (some cute moments to look out for, Old Fox steering the Kid around like a puppet fighting a group of thugs- the kid when finally liking Old Fox, dresses exactly like him- some urination humor). Although I still hate the Kid, I can tolerate him. The Sleeping Style is entirely fictional and an obvious attempt at capitalizing on the Drunken Master success. The Sleeping Style is basically Drunken style, relaxed, with the alcoholic loopiness replaced with some giant yawns and unconcious staggering.
DVD Quality: Ground Zero presents a pretty bare, Region 0, budget minded DVD. But, taken from a tape master, not of much ointerest if you already have it on vhs. Picture- The fullscreen picture has muted colors, and is very soft, throughout, and it is basically like buying a fair vhs of an older and good kung fu film. Oddly enough, Ground Zero uses a Sleeping Fist fight scene as an extra on their Shaolin King Boxer DVD and the scene is letterbox. Strange they didnt use the same source here. Sound- 2.0 mono English dub with no drastic hiss, pops, reverb, or largely noticeable flaws. Extras- 14 Chapters. Wu Tang into and Wu Tang music video. Trailers for Blazin', Gangstresses, and a Wu Tang/Kung Fu Classics commercial. Bonus fight scene (film unspecified) lasting 2 minutes.