Kung Fu Jungle
AKA: Kung Fu Killer, Last of the Best
Year of release: 2014
Genre: martial arts
Director: Teddy Chen
Action directors: Donnie Yen, Stephen Tung Wai, Yuen Bun, Yan Hua, Bruce Law
Producers: Catherine Hun, Tong Choi-Chi, Song Ning
Writers: Lau Ho-Leung, Mak Tin-Shu
Cinematography: Horace Wong
Editing: Cheung Ka-Fai, Derek Hui
Music: Peter Kam
Stars: Donnie Yen, Charlie Yeung, Wang Bao-Qiang, Michelle Bai Bing, Alex Fong, Fan Siu-Wong, David Chiang, Kirk Wong, Mang Hoi, Tony Leung Siu-Hung, Soi Cheang, Yuen Cheung-Yan, Bruce Law, Yuen Bun
Rated IIB for violence and language
Movie Review Index
The current reigning king of martial arts movies Donnie Yen punches, kicks, and stomps his way back on to the big screen with Kung Fu Jungle, which is being brought out theatrically as of the writing of this review (April 2015) by Well Go USA in select American cities under the title Kung Fu Killer. For fans of Yen's work, this is most definitely a release worth heading to the local multiplex to check out.
In the movie, Donnie plays Hahou Mo, a martial arts trainer for the police department who is in prison after killing an opponent during a fight. A series of murders of kung fu experts piques Mo's interest, as he believes he knows who the killer (played by Wang Bao-Qiang) is. So Mo makes a deal with police inspector Luk (Charlie Yeung) to get his sentence reduced for helping to find the killer. But as the investigation develops, Mo's true motives start to become unclear and he finds himself a suspect as well.
While the plot here is not exactly mind-blowing, replete with the seemingly mandatory semi-lame plot twist employed near the end, director Teddy Chen has found success with other "smart" dumb films such as Purple Storm and Bodyguards and Assassins, and that trend continues here. Chen knows to keep moving things along so that some of the more negligible plot points are not dwelled on for too long, and the parade of oldschool stars and directors in cameo roles, including David Chiang, Kirk Wong, Mang Hoi, Yuen Cheung-Yan, and Yuen Bun, helps to keep the audience engaged.
But, of course, one comes to a Donnie Yen film to see fists of fury flying on the screen, and in this regard, Kung Fu Jungle most certainly does not disappoint. The action is nearly wall-to-wall here, with Yen himself (along with veterans like Stephen Tung Wai) coordinating the fight scenes, which are balanced with several excellent car chases shot under the tutelage of the legendary Bruce Law. There are some dodgy looking wire and CGI effects employed at times, but for the most part, the action is great stuff and shows that while it is not anywhere near the level of the heyday of the "golden age", Hong Kong film-makers can still churn out some pretty kick-ass action cinema.
Well Go USA's Blu-ray is uncut from the original version, running at 100 minutes. The soundtrack is available in the original Cantonese/Mandarin mix, or English, Spanish, and French dubs, with subtitles also available in those languages. The English subtitles are not dubtitles. Extras include trailers for the movie and several other Well Go releases. Don't get too excited for the Ip Man 3 teaser, as it just shows a closeup of Donnie's hands punching a training dummy. Other bonus features include a series of short featurettes taken from the Hong Kong release. Screen captures are below. The video was extracted using Leawo Blu-Ray and the screen captures were obtained with VLC Media Player. Click on the images to see the full resolution versions. A video clip of the first five minutes of the film can be found here. Please keep in mind that this is a raw MPEG clip and is about 360 MB, so those on data plans may want to wait before they're on wifi before downloading.