Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

November 9th, 2000 Issue #26

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

Dirty Tiger, Crazy Frog
(1978; Gar Bo Films Company): 7/10

Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.
Lo fu tien gai

Lao hu tian ji

Tiger, Frog

Sammo Hung Kam-po (left) and Lau Kar-wing (right). Image courtesy Mei Ah.

A year before their teaming in the wonderful ODD COUPLE, Sammo Hung Kam-po and Lau Kar-wing appeared together in this enjoyable period kung fu comedy, directed by Karl Maka. Rascal Dirty Tiger (Lau) is enlisted to find dimwitted Crazy Frog (Hung), the wayward husband of an old matron. Tiger captures his quarry with little difficulty but Frog makes him an offer: his freedom in exchange for the "Invincible Armour," an iron mesh vest that makes the wearer invulnerable to blades and fists. Trouble is, the armour has already been stolen by sneaky pickpocket Multi-hand Chick (Meg Lam Kin-ming), so Tiger and Frog form an exceedingly uneasy alliance to get it back.

Sammo Hung. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Along the way, they decide to fleece Rumour Town boss Coffin King with some fake armour, collecting a bundle in the process. This leads to an ongoing series of double crosses (which also involve some gold bars Tiger managed to fleece from Frog's wife), interrupted only by the threat posed to both partners by The Bandit Brothers, Panther (Dean Shek Tien) and Smiling Tiger (Jason Pai Piao), and their much fiercer (and smarter) father, The White-brow Monk (Lee Hoi-sang). When the latter is able to get the armour, the trio quickly prey upon the townspeople, prompting Tiger and Frog to show a little civic responsibility by putting them out of commission.

Lee Hoi-sang (left) and Peter Chan Lung (right). Image courtesy Mei Ah.

A follow-up of sorts to Maka's 1976 effort THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE LOSER (which teamed Lau with Roy Chiao Hung and is considered to be one of the pioneering films in the "kung fu parody" sub-genre), DIRTY TIGER, CRAZY FROG is lively fun and an obvious must for old school enthusiasts. The kung fu here is not quite as dazzling as the incredible, varied weapons fighting in ODD COUPLE but Hung and Lau are in splendid form and their climactic battle (a duel utilizing the ever-popular three sectioned staff) is the undisputed highlight. The comedy is very broad but usually elicits a chuckle (save for the bits involving the non-stop mugging of Shek, the most consistently irritating actor to be found in the genre) and the excellent supporting cast is filled with genre regulars like Maka (dubbed by someone else here but sporting a full head of hair!), Fung Hark-on, Chung Fat, Peter Chan Lung, Tsui Chung-san, Feng Sing (aka Mars), Yuen Biao, Lam Ching-ying, Mang Hoi, and Hsiao Hou.

Lau Kar-wing. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

DVD Specs:

Mei Ah #DVD-303
Dolby Digital (5.1 and 2.1)
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional Subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Letterboxed (2.10:1; cropped from 2.35:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category IIA (for predominantly comic martial arts violence)
97 minutes

DVD menu courtesy Mei Ah.

A textless print has been used here and, in addition to the theatrical subtitles, all of the opening credits are also missing. A new fullscreen end crawl containing all of the names has been added, making for a somewhat irritating but bearable alteration. The source material and transfer are very nice, with a sharp image and attractive hues. The 2.35:1 frame is presented at an incomplete but still symmetrical 2.1 and the bit missing from the sides is rarely noticeable. Black levels are inconsistent from shot-to-shot but that appears to be a fault of the original production and not the video transfer. Mei Ah's usual sub-standard compression job does knock the presentation down slightly, with some displacement occasionally apparent, but nothing as pronounced or annoying as that seen throughout the company's horribly flawed FLYING DAGGER disc. As usual, the 5.1 tracks just add an echo to the proceedings, so stick the passable sounding originals. There are no extras or time functions.

Sammo Hung. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Copyright © John Charles 2000. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review