A Kid From Tibet
CAV // Unrated // $24.95 // February 26, 2002
Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted June 15, 2002
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The Story: A young monk named Wong La (Yuen Biao- Dreadnaught, Zu Warriors, Project A) from the Potala Monastery in Tibet is assigned the task of going to Hong Kong and bringing back the monasteries long lost artifact, the magical Babu Gold Bottle. At one time, in combination with its cap which Wong La carries with him, the bottle was used to repel the evil Black Section of corrupt Llamas. His escort into this strange an unfamiliar modern land is the henpecked Chueng Seng-neng (Michelle Reis- Chinese Ghost Story 2, Healing Hearts, Fallen Angels). But, the evil leader of the Black Section (Yuen Wah- Eastern Condors, Dragons Forever, On the Run) and his sister are close behind, attempting to thwart Wong La, get the cap and steal the urns powers to restore their evil sect.

The Film: I've always thought Yuen Biao reached a point in the late eighties/early 90's when he began to be vastly underused in HK film. He would be cast in something mammothly popular like or Once Upon A Time in China but be nothing more than a side player and doing stunts/fights not even 1/4th of what he was capable of doing. It seemed like the glory days of jam packed awesome fight/acrobatic/stunt performances like in Prodigal Son, Dragons Forever, and Righting Wrongs were behind him. I guess there is no better example than 1991's A Kid in Tibet, his first and only directorial effort, where Biao doesn't cut loose with his physical skills and basically sticks the same formula of not really letting his talents shine and saving the "big fight" until the very end. So, I guess you cant lament his being underused by other directors because he directs himself and underuses himself in the process. I guess Biao just never had the same vanity as his cohorts like Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, who used their directorial efforts to define themselves and flesh out their talents even further. Its kind of hard to sympathize with Yuen Biao, despite having physical and acting skill on par with his better known Peking Opera brothers, under his own direction he just doesn't have the same grand vision. That is why he never became as equally huge and influential. But, while lacking wall to wall stunts and fights, he still made a damn fine comedy/fantasy film.

So, basically it is very light on fights and big on rube in the city gags. Poor Wong La a sheltered monk with no knowledge of technology in this crazy modern world annoying the easily annoyable but lovely Seng-ning . There are numerous gags like his getting cold in her apartment so he starts a campfire because he doesn't know about air-conditioned heat. This leads to one of my favorite bits of HK dialogue when she says "This is not supernatural power, but super stupid power." Although Biao had just a few years prior played a similar fish out of water role in Iceman Cometh, surprisingly, A Kid from Tibet is pretty charming and he is a very good director. Biao makes a good clueless hero, and although lowbrow and low budget the supernatural hijinks and comedy fare better than a lot of the similar early 90's HK fantasy films. The finale between Biao and his Seven Fortunes brother Yuen Wah is quite good, the two going toe-to-toe with blue energy punches (think Last Dragon) and two huge swords. Though the fight is great, its nowhere near as good as their Eastern Condors tussle. HK action/Biao fans should found it more enjoyable than many of the fantasy fare Biao was in during this period, like Deadful Melody and Saga of the Pheonix.

The DVD: World Video. Well, World Video hasn't changed much, continuing to perpetrate the same technical bumps they always have. Same old worn prints. Few extras. As well as the same huge layer change pause and stutter break between chapter changes, yet, at an insanely high MSRP.

Picture- Widescreen. In the world of HK film transfers, yet another well worn fairly spotty, occasionally fluttering print. Barely a notch above vhs, it does show pretty good color and sharpness overall, comparable to Universes cheaper titles.

Sound- Cantonese or Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono with burned in occasionally flawed English subtitles. Serviceable audio tracks free of any glaring hiss or distortions but is basic and lacking any real dynamics.

Extras- Chapter Selections--- Trailers for the film, plus Sword Stained with Royal Blood and South Shaolin Master Part Two--- Weblink.

Conclusion: Well, if you are a Biao fan you may want to pick it up. While not the best stage of his career it is at least notable as his first and only directorial effort. The quality of the transfer isn't stupendous though- that combined with a high MSRP means its probably a better rental where most HK action DVD fans are concerned.

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