Issue #212a         HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES                May 17th, 2004

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My Young Auntie
(1981; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Cheung booi
Mandarin: Chang bei
English: The Elder
Alternate English Title: Fangs of the Tigress


RATING: 8/10


If you are only familiar with Lau Kar-leung's stoic and heroic kung fu epics, this comic yarn will come as a enjoyable surprise. Dispatched to Canton in order to find relative Yu Jing-chuen (played by the director), martial arts expert Ching Dai-nan (Kara Hui Ying-hung) carries the will of her recently deceased husband. To keep his assets safely away from his cruel and greedy brother, Yu Wing-sang (Johnny Wang Lung-wei), Dai-nan's husband decided to leave them to Jing-chuen, who is still a good fighter, despite being middle-aged. Dai-nan's arrival into the Yu household creates a classic case of culture clash when she meets up with Jing-chuen's Westernized son (Hsiao Hou), who prefers to be called "Charlie." Much to his chagrin, Charlie must show respect towards Dai-nan because of her position as a family elder, in spite of her resolutely old fashioned beliefs. The lad does his best to bring Dai-nan up-to-date by inviting her to a costume ball, where they cut a rug together in impressive fashion. Meanwhile, Yung-sheng's men (led by Yuen Tak) use the opportunity to break into the Yu home and steal the title deeds belonging to Dai-nan's late spouse. The only way to get them back is by force but Dai-nan and Charlie are the only ones in the immediate family whose kung fu is good enough.

Kara Hui Kara Hui Lau Kar-leung

One of Lau Kar-leung's most offbeat period films, MY YOUNG AUNTIE suffers from the studio's use of overstated DeWolfe library music as accompaniment but is an otherwise delightful affair. The energetic slapstick is as wonderfully choreographed as the kung fu and Kara Hui (winner of the year's Best Actress prize) is the perfect heroine and comedienne in what is still her best role to date. The traditional Chinese notions of family are turned upside down: Dai-nan is much younger than Jing-chuen (hence the English title) and about the same age as Charlie, resulting in much hierarchal confusion. The manner in which both Dai-nan and Jing-chuen react to Charlie's Western slang and tastes (which were just starting to appear in HK at this point in history, thanks to the British lease on the colony) also adds to the amusement. Gordon Lau Kar-fai, Mai Te-lo, Cho Tat-wah, and Wilson Tong Wai-shing are among the supporting players.

Hsiao Hou (left), Kara Hui Yuen Tak Johnny Wang


No complaints about this transfer: the image looks very nice throughout and the film works better in this version, with its intended mix of Chinese and English intact (when presented entirely in the latter language, much of the culture clash humor is diluted). Unfortunately, the DVD is marred somewhat by another insipid re-mix. Yes, those annoying insects and birds are back but we also must deal with the sound of croaking frogs for a 17 minute stretch in the final quarter! The standard Celestial supplements are included (it looks like we will not be getting any more theatrical trailers, just video promo spots), though the behind-the-scenes photo gallery features a shot of Kara Hui that is not from this film.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. 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 3 Only
  • Intercontinental Video Ltd #102370
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 114 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: PG
  • Great Britain: 15
  • Ontario: PG
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG
  • Contains moderate violence and coarse language


  • 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