The 2011 Winner for Best Film at the Hong Kong Film Awards is a delightful homage to old school kung fu movies.
Cheung (Wong You-Nam) dreamed of being a kung fu expert. However, he has become a lowly real estate agent and his latest job will become a life changing-one. Going to a village, he must speak to the village landlord to discuss some property. He finds trouble right away in the form of gang boss Golden Rooster (Law Wing-Cheong). When Cheung finds himself beaten up, he finds a savior in Tiger (Leung Siu-Lung), an elder kung fu master.
Tiger and another fellow, Dragon (Chen Kuan-Tai), run a teahouse that was once their kung fu school. Since their teacher, Master Law (Teddy Robin), fell into a coma thirty years ago, they turned the school into the teahouse and they have one student in Kwai (J.J. Jia), a young woman they saved ten years ago.
Village landlord Mang (M.C. Jin) wants the lease to the teahouse and when he recruits Golden Rooster and kung fu expert Jade Kirin (Turbo Law) to get it, Cheung has a change of heart and decides to help the elders that they train him in kung fu, especially for an upcoming tournament.
Co-directors Clement Cheng and Derek Kwok truly have done justice with paying homage to classic kung fu films. What is outstanding is that the opening credit sequence and the introduction of the main characters are in true Shaw Brothers-fashion. Add to the mix veterans Leung Siu-Lung and Chen Kuan-Tai as the titular gallants, showing that age does not affect their fighting skills at all.
Chen’s Dragon is the more big brotherly-type while Leung’s Tiger, while a good fighter, always drinks and gets intro trouble. As Master Law, Teddy Robin provides some comic relief when he finally awakens from his coma. As Cheung, Wong You-Nam does a decent job as playing a loser who gains the confidence he had as a child, while M.C. Jin’s Mang is a tough guy who switches between talking Chinese and English while having a sort of secret agenda against Cheung.
In charge of the fight scenes is a legend in his own right, Yuen Tak. Yuen truly brings the best in the aging Leung and Chen, while having trained the likes of youngsters Wong, Jin, and J.J. Jia, making them look good as well. Watching Chen take on veteran Turbo Law (formerly Lo Meng) will bring back true memories of the good ol’ days of the Shaw Brothers’ classic kung fu era.
GALLANTS truly earned the award it won. It is a modern kung fu film with true homage to the classic era. If you have not seen this film, then it is time you have!