Overview: Action director Lau Kar-leung helms this kung fu dramedy from Shaw Brothers starring Lau, his martial arts protégés Hsiao Hou and Kara Hui, and EXECUTIONERS FROM SHAOLIN villain Lo Lieh.
A brothel owner named Duan (Lo Lieh) invites a martial arts-trained Chinese opera performer named Chan (Lau Kar-leung) to dinner in order to get his hands on Chan’s sister. Duan gets Chan drunk and frames him for adultery with his complicit wife. With the punishment for adultery being drowning, Chan’s sister offers herself as Duan’s mistress to save her brother’s life. Duan agrees on condition that Chan’s hands be beaten until they’re crippled so that he cannot come back for revenge later. Several years later, with his reputation ruined, his spirit broken and his hands mangled, Chan becomes a homeless street performer with a trained monkey as his act. He befriends an agile pickpocket nicknamed Little Monkey (Hsiao Hou) just as petty street thugs begin shaking him down for money. After the thugs kill Chan’s trained monkey, Little Monkey agrees to join his act by performing as a human dressed as a monkey. Thugs attack again, stealing what little money the two have earned. Furious, Little Monkey decides to fight back and is soundly beaten. Chan agrees to train him in Monkey Fist kung fu and the pair retreat into the mountains to practice. With a solid foundation in kung fu built up and eager for revenge, Little Monkey ignores his master’s warning to finish his training in order to return to town and punish the bullies. All goes well until he meets their boss who happens to be Chan’s old nemesis Duan. Little Monkey learns that Duan tricked his master to get his hands on his sister who is still Duan’s mistress. She discovers Monkey’s relation to Chan and helps him to escape from Duan but is accidentally killed in the process. Little Monkey relays the terrible news of Duan’s trickery and the girl’s tragic death to Chan and he continues his training with renewed vigor in hopes of helping his master get revenge. Once the training is complete, Chan and Little Monkey return to the brothel for a showdown with Duan and his men.
MAD MONKEY KUNG FU was released in the middle of a string of hit kung fu movies from Lau Kar-leung, one of Shaw Brothers top action directors. The film was released after Jackie Chan’s hugely popular hit DRUNKEN MASTER, which might explain why Lau performed his own version of Drunken boxing at the beginning of the film. Kara Hui has only a minor role in the film with limited martial arts fighting but she soon got to shine as lead in Lau’s MY YOUNG AUNTIE (1981). Another interesting note is that most of Hsiao Hou’s monkey-like antics were not part of traditional Monkey Fist kung fu but rather were added for laughs. Two years earlier, actor Chen Kuan-tai, a real master of Monkey-Axe kung fu, directed himself in IRON MONKEY which portrayed Monkey Fist in a more authentic manner.
Releases: The film was originally released theatrically in Hong Kong in 1979 by Shaw Brothers. Trans-Continental Film Corporation released an English-dubbed version of the film theatrically in the U.S. in 1981. Celestial Pictures remastered the film and it has since been re-released on DVD in several territories. Arc Entertainment acquired rights to the film from The Weinstein Company and released it on DVD in the U.S. as part of the Dragon Dynasty label on August 9, 2011. This version comes with Trans-Continental Film Corp’s original English dub, a Mandarin dub and optional English subtitles.
AKA: Feng hou, Fung hau,《瘋猴》
Genre: Kung Fu, Comedy
Companies: Shaw Brothers
Release Dates: October 5, 1979 (Hong Kong – Theatrical), 1981 (U.S. – Theatrical), August 9, 2011 (U.S. – DVD)
Producer: Mona Fong
Director: Lau Kar-leung
Action Director: Lau Kar-leung
Cast: Lau Kar-leung (Chan), Hsiao Hou (Little Monkey), Kara Hui (Miss Chan), Lo Lieh (Duan)
Mad Monkey Kung Fu (1979),