“An insane, rip-roaring, ultra-fast old-school Hong Kong action film that hides flaws in editing, poor continuity, storyline and character development.
In this heddy mix of “comic-book” superhero action, streetfighting, drama and mindless fun; Yue Song stars as Wu-Lin, a “Super bodyguard” assigned to be the bodyguard of an unruly, unappreciative daughter of one of the richest families in the city; whilst fending off attacks from a group of mobsters.
Wu-lin’s “super bodyguard” status comes from his “Iron Feet”, a secret martial arts technique that forces him to wear heavy iron overshoes for 10 years; which allows him to kick ass; and hard.
In the shadows is Wu-lin’s brother; another martial artist and bodyguard business partner who is obsessed with the technique, and wants it all to himself; and is willing to go to any length to learn it.
The brother; drunk with desire to learn the skill even joining forces with the mobsters to eventually kidnap the girl, and brutally putting Wu-lin into a shallow grave when he refuses to have anything to do with him.
Wu-Lin’s rises from the graves, takes off his iron-shoes, and decides to wipe out the gangsters once and for all and save the daughter from any further harm.
In a movie that Yue Song himself said, “The best [kung fu] film you’ll never see” (link), “Super Bodyguard” manages to channel the best of old-school Hong Kong action movies, combining it into a heady mixture that combines evil kung-fu clans, comic-book action, hundreds of bad guys into relentless action.
It’s clear that director, and star, Yue Song loves his action; fists, feet fly across the screen at reckless speed, almost to the point you dare not blink or you’ll miss something.
It’s no small feat either; as Yue Song was the director, writing, producing and heck; throw in stunt co-ordination as well on this movie.
With his strong background in martial arts, Yue throws himself into a plot that mostly serves as a thinly veiled vehicle to string together a lot of bone-shattering, fast-paced action sequences.
And yet, there were a lot of issues I had with the movie.
It really needed a seasoned producer at the helm.
Perhaps it was the English subtitles, but there were a lot of times where the storyline and key scenes just jump from one sequence to another. I found it very distracting.
There are also quite a few continuity issues with the movie too. Early on, a kid is teasing Yue Song with some ice cream as Song is doing the splits in an plaza (for some reason, its never explained what he’s doing there).
Suddenly a van of well dressed guys turn up, the camera is now pointing downwards — but wait, where did the little kid go to? Then, in the next shot the kid is back.
There are a number of key sequences that made me quite annoyed; they lead somewhere. Then there’s a cut and then it moves onto another scene.
An example of this is the chase between Song and a van of hoodlums who kidnap the daughter. The sequence runs for many minutes, with Yue chasing, jumping, riding the top; its all crazy stuff — but I kept asking myself how the slowly van must be travelling for Yue able to scale buildings and urban furniture and yet still keep up with a moving vehicle.
The whole sequence ends with Song IN-FRONT of the van, how the hell did he get there? It’s scenes like this and others similar to this that really made me scratch my head in confusion.
Another example; later on Song is faced with a guy with a sword and a bandage around his hand. Yue walks up to him, but before we can see anything — the camera cuts, and the next scene the sword-wielding victim is on the floor.
What was the point of that scene?
Another issue I had was that a lot of the background story is never explained until 30-50 minutes into the movie. I found this to be very poor and could have easily been the basis of the whole movie if they did it correctly.
There’s one quick scene where Wu-lin’s character is in his room and there are James Bond posters on the wall; I’m not sure why they are there. But it was interesting he had Pierce Brosnan’s GoldenEye and one of Dalton’s movies (Licence to Kill).
For a movie that touted itself as the next “Bruce Lee” in some promotions, and yet in another a movie that claims to have no special effects; the movie lends itself to using a lot — and I mean a lot of wire-fu.
Now, that wouldn’t be an issue if the story really laid out a solid foundation of why Yue Song’s character is able to perform superhero like bone-crunching moves.
The only real explanation we get is midway through the movie; that he was abandoned, had some kind of supernatural ability and was taught by an old man; before he too abandons Yue — telling him “success needs sacrifice”.
Even his “brother” isn’t really fleshed out; is he his real blood brother, step-brother (which is hinted at in the movie), his martial arts brother?
I do wish they had pushed the idea of him being a step brother a bit more to beefen up the story.
The storyline of this movie should have been “Success needs sacrifice”, and could have told the story of how the father adopts the abandoned Wu-lin (Yue Song) and quickly identifies his gift; and teaches him along side his blood-son; the story could have told it from the step-brother’s point of view about he secretly dispises his father for saving Wu Lin — and this would have helped fueled the blood feud between the two.
There are also parts of the movie that are very rushed. The “romance” between the bodyguard Wu-Lin and the daughter; almost immediately they fall in love. Although strangely Wu-lin never seems to act like he’s in love.
In this movie Song also has a tendency to “honour” wholesale sequences from movies he’s a fan of.
Whilst the most obvious one is “The Matrix Revolution”; where Song is battling a load of bad guys at the same time.
There are some other ones that I felt needed to be highlighted. Early on, Wu-lin is doing the splits in a plaza being taunted by a little kid who is eating ice cream. This is clearly similar to Bruce Lee’s “Way of the Dragon” where a similar sequence occurs.
Later on, the whole bit where Wu-lin is failing to “protect” the daughter from a group of street hoodlums is clearly lifted wholesale from Jackie Chan’s “Police Story” (1985). But weirdly Chan’s version is better, because its background story is well developed, and funnier. Whereas here, it just happens.
Aside from poor storyline development, poor character development and sequences that break continuity or just seemed very rushed — I thought the movie was very good, well paced and had a lot of action in it.
It’s a movie that tries to mix Tony Jaa like bone-crunching action with Chinese folklore wire-fu action of old.
But I felt there was a certain disconnect with the two ideas; and it isn’t helped with the lack of a decent story.
It’s brutal, fast-paced and worth watching. One hopes that Yue Song gets it into cinemas worldwide; if it does — I certainly will be there.