Knockabout (1979) – Film Review
By Roger Crow
Brothers Yipao (Yuen Biao) and Taipao (Leung Kar-yan) are down on their luck conmen. Selling fake gold to crooked dealers is just one of their scams.
“Looks so good”
But wouldn’t you know it? Their new master is a ruthless killer, and when the relatives realise this, one of them is murdered.
Seeking vengeance, the survivor must learn a unique form of kung fu from a beggar, who also happens to be a master fighter.
For the most part, Knockabout is an aptly titled load of fun. Stupid gags, slapstick comedy, frying pan in the face style humour, with a jaunty soundtrack which keeps things ticking over. And those stunts. Blimey. Sammo Hung’s reputation as one of the kings of martial arts cinema is well deserved, and, as usual, Eureka Classics have done a splendid job with the Blu-ray version taken from a new 2K restoration. You’d never believe it was made in 1979, it looks so good.
The English dubbed offering is gloriously daft, though purists will no doubt want to watch the original version with subtitles. After one of those tough weeks, it’s a welcome break from the horrors of the world to get lost in something so silly.
Of course the gags might fall short of achingly funny, perhaps losing something in translation, but there’s no denying the stunts are phenomenal. That finale is so jaw-dropping, it’s worth seeing a few times, though chances are, like a kitten with a laser pointer, you’ll be breathless just keeping up with it.
One of the key selling points on the press blurb is: ‘Features one of the greatest action finales in the history of Hong Kong cinema’.
I can’t dispute that.
Limited Edition O-Card slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling
Reversible sleeve design featuring original poster artwork
Two versions of the film presented in 1080p on Blu-ray from 2K restorations (Original HK Theatrical cut and the shorter Export Cut)
Original Cantonese mono audio
Optional English dubbed audio
Optional English Subtitles, newly translated for this release
Brand new feature length audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival)
Brand new feature length audio commentary by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
Archival interview with Sammo Hung
Archival interview with Bryan “Beardy” Leung Kar-yan
Archival interview with Grandmaster Chan Sau Chang (aka The Monkey King), a master of Monkey Style kung fu
A Limited Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing by James Oliver
Knockabout is released on Blu-ray by Eureka, £22.99