Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1982) Review
This movie heralds Jackie Chan as the new Kung Fu master in movies, a place that had been left vacant by Bruce Lee since his sudden death in 1973. It also brings out the new style of mixing Kung fu with humor, a style that has now become synonymous with Jackie Chan. If you are a Jackie Chan fan then this DVD is truly a collector’s item as it shows the beginning of a very successful, journey that Jackie started upon with Yuen Woo Ping as director.
The title of the film ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’ comes from the plot which has as the main theme the rivalry between Snake Fist and Eagle’s Claw schools of Kung Fu. The movie portrays Jackie as an orphan who is out of luck. One day he saves a beggar Pai Chang Tien (played by Simon Yuan Siu Tin) who is actually a master of the Snake Fist School. Tien offers to teach Jackie the Snake Fist style of fighting. What Jackie does not know is that his mentor is actually hiding from Shang Kuan Yin (played by Hwang Jang Lee) who is the Master of Eagle’s Claw style of Kung fu. Yin has been killing all the Snake Fists to show his superiority. The Snake Fist style is inferior to the Eagle Claw Style so Jackie combines it with his own Cat Claw Style to defeat the Eagle Claw fighters. What is interesting to see is Jackie’s metamorphosis from trainee to expert with his own style!
The simple plot is dotted with well choreographed fight sequences which in turn are interspersed with humor. Humor comes through as a strong element that adds to Jackie’s charm. The fight scene between Jackie and the mighty Hwang Lee is memorable and fascinating. One look at the powerful Hwang and his agility and you know that Jackie has already lost! Besides the well choreographed fighting scenes, there is more going for the movie like the many twists in the plot. Humor ingrained in the fighting scene is something of a novelty as earlier fighters like Bruce Lee were seen as serious characters, who dared not to show a smile for fear of it being seen as a weakness.
The DVD version has been cut in a place or two to shorten it. The scenes have probably been cut to down play animal cruelty. The cuts do not in anyway take away from the plot or theme. The movie is one of the best examples of animal fight styles like snake, cat, eagle and also mantis. The fights in the movie are some of the best particularly the last battle between Hwang Jang Lee and Jackie where a combination of animal style fights are used and a winning combination discovered! Go for the DVD version of ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’ as it is a classic and a must have for martial arts and Jackie Chan fans alike.