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Half a loaf of Kung Fu tells the story of Jiang (Jackie Chan - or in this case Jacky Chan) and his quest to find a job. With no luck initially, Jiang stumbles across a wanted man. The man has been killed and Jiang cashes in on the bounty whilst posing as the man who killed him (The Whip hero). All kinds of trouble ensues and Jiang ends up learning Kung-Fu on his travels through the help of The Beggar Master. All this comes in handy later on when Jiang must defend a cargo of precious items that have drawn the attention of several clans of bandits.
Learning a martial art and polishing that ability to a high level is a long, hard and enduring process -much like watching this movie. At times I didn't think I would make it out alive. The initial scenes seem to cover a little known love triangle. The marriage of slapstick comedy, martial arts and strobe effects. It seems to be less like the opening of a kung-fu movie and more like experimental cinema.
Those who are familiar with Jackie Chan will know his style well. He is very much a clown with morals and portrays this image throughout his vast filmography. With this movie we are at the start of his career and are in many ways watching that style form. The polished performances he has delivered in movies like Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon and the like are years ahead of what we see in Half a Loaf.
I must add that although this is before Jackie fully mastered his style and craft we are actually after some of his greatest physical displays. I personally much prefer Snake in the Eagles Shadow and Drunken Master to anything else he has done. The demanding training scenes and displays of martial arts are of a much higher standard. Although comedy has been a big part of everything Jackie has done I feel that Half a Loaf was released at a transitional time for Jackie Chan. His name was certainly still developing. From Chan Yuan Lung to Ching Yun to Chen Yuan Lung to Chen Yuen Lung to Jacky Chan and back to Chen Yuan-lung and so on and so on before finally settling on Jackie Chan around 1982 - 3 with Dragon Lord and Winners & Sinners.
While we are on the subject of humour the comedy seen in Half a Loaf isn't funny at all but rather painfully lame. I must admit that I laughed at the Popeye scene but for all the wrong reasons. It comes at an unexpected moment and I can't believe it made the final cut.
The fight scenes and all martial arts in the film are less than impressive, but you have to really concentrate to notice this as you will probably be too preoccupied with the poor and very amateur filming and cinematography.
I think I can summarise the whole movie as a mathematical sum:
Martial Arts + Laurel and Hardy - all humour x Amateur Video = Half a loaf of Kung-Fu
I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone unless they are interested to see some of Jackie Chan's earlier less memorable work and believe you, me there are enough fanatics out there to watch this movie 'til the DVD runs dry just because Jackie Chan is on screen. He is an amazing, much loved and very popular man and rightly so, but I can't help but feel the contrary about this film.
11/09/2010 (LAPTOP/DVD)"Jackie Chan's" first attempt that was canned because traditional Chinese heroes were usually staunch, in this movie the star is a clown who manages to waste all the staunch dudes by fluke.This is technically the beginning of "Jackie Chan's" style he created in the martial-art genre which may of not got the props back then but is now a legendary trademark of "Chan's" work. It's not the best, but it is interesting for me to see where the kung-fu comedy fusion began.It is full of comedy and skillful Martial-art sequences that are very entertaining to watch and the story is some-what okay I guess but all in all it's not that bad. I watched this purely for appreciation and may not be for you.
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