Issue #208           HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES                April 19th, 2004

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(1979; Golden Harvest/Paragon Films)

Cantonese: Jaap ga siu ji
Mandarin: Za jia xiao zi
English: (roughly) Jack-of-All-Trades Kid


RATING: 8/10


Yuen Biao made his debut as a leading man in this excellent period kung fu comedy, which follows the popular "student-learning-from-slovenly-master" formula to the letter. Yipao (Yuen) and Taipao (Leung Kar-yan) are a pair of bumbling conmen who can never seem to get ahead. After unsuccessfully trying to bilk Ku (Lau Kar-wing) out of his bag, the pair are then beaten to a pulp by the old man. They beg him to teach them his martial arts techniques and, after much flattery, he agrees. The pair's kung fu improves remarkably under their new master's instruction and they return the favor by helping him defeat a couple of old enemies (Lee Hoi-sang and Wong Kwong-yue). However, when Yipao sees Ku kill a policeman, the truth becomes clear: he is really a murderous bandit known to police as "The Old Fox" and has simply been using his two rather dimwitted pupils. Ku then attacks Taipao but Yipao manages to escape. Receiving additional instruction from a martially adept beggar (including "Garbage Boxing," an amalgam of several different techniques), Yipao seeks out The Fox for a final clash.

Leung Kar-yan (left), Yuen Biao Lau Kar-wing Yuen Biao (left), Sammo Hung

The formula may be old hat, but the acrobatics on display are absolutely superb. Yuen is astoundingly good, both in combat and in the involved training sequences, doing multiple somersaults with the sort of grace and ease the rest of us can only dream of. While director/choreographer Sammo Hung Kam-po reserves the spotlight for his old school buddy, he also gives himself a colorful supporting role as the skilful beggar (who has more than a few tricks up his sleeve). During the final duel, he and Yuen face off together against Lau Kar-wing, utilizing the monkey style, and it is a remarkable display of comedy and dexterity. Feng Sing/Mars, Peter Chan Lung, Karl Maka, Ho Pak-kwong, and Chung Fat also appear, and look fast for Lam Ching-ying as one of the gambling den henchmen.


Aside from occasional speckles, the transfer is quite sharp, colorful, and detailed. The audio has the expected limitations of the time but gets the job done. The only real drawback here is that all three subtitle options go missing from 34:02 to 36:34 and are also absent for a handful of lines later on; it is not clear whether this is an encoding error or if these sequences were missing from the element the subs were transcribed from. 20th Century Fox will be releasing a domestic DVD of KNOCKABOUT later in the year. That version will be 16:9 and almost certainly cleaner but may also have one of the 5.1 remixes that have drawn criticism from some collectors. It also remains to be seen what the studio will do with the English version of the film (which re-christens the heroes Zippo and Harpo!), as it runs about 12 minutes shorter. In any event, the Deltamac disc offers the original mono and a very respectable presentation. The theatrical trailer is also included.

Leung Kar-yan (right) Karl Maka Feng Sing/Mars

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Deltamac. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC -- Region 0
  • Deltamac #DVD78032
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese
  • 6 Chapters
  • 4:3 Letterbox (2.40:1)
  • 100 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: M 15+
  • Great Britain: 15
  • Hong Kong: IIA
  • Ontario: PG
  • Singapore: PG
  • United States: PG-13
  • Contains moderate violence


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful