Kung Fu Killer (China/Hong Kong, 2014)
Kung Fu Killer stars martial arts icon Donnie Yen as Hahou Mo, a kung fu master and former instructor for the police department who goes to prison for accidentally killing an opponent. When he hears about a former martial arts master having been murdered under strange circumatances, he contacts the police, telling Detective Luk Yuen-Sum (Charlie Yeung) that he can help them catch the killer, and even tells her who the next victim might be. The detective leaves but soon returns when Hahou’s prediction of the next victim comes to pass. Hahou is released from prison into police custody to aid in the investigation.
The killer they are pursuing is Fung (Baoqiang Wang), who has led a tragic life which has had a profound effect on him: he was born with one leg shorter than the other, but that handicap didn’t stop Fung from becoming a formidable foe. He manages to kill three martial arts masters using the very techniques each had specialized in. It is soon discovered that Fung had been in contact with Hahou while he was in prison, and now Hahou finds himself on the run as a suspected accomplice in the murders. Wanting to clear his name and protect his wife Sinn Ying (Bai Bing), Hahou is also Fung’s next target.
This is a well-scripted action film that pays homage to old-school Hong Kong kung fu cinema by using modern settings as a stage for familiar tropes, while there are many cameos that fans of the genre will appreciate. The repairing of director Teddy Chan and Yen following Bodyguards and Assassins (2009) ensures a superb film with a story that flows nicely. There are many fantastic fight scenes that do not take precedence over the plot or characterization, and while they don’t all include Yen, his final showdown with his nemesis is beautiful to watch. The fight choreography and stunts were handled by Yen and Stephen Tung Wei, and while there is some wire work, this is used minimally, mostly to highlight falls as opposed to making the fighting unrealistic or gravity-defying.
Kung Fu Killer is an entertaining martial arts film that will not only appeal to kung fu fans but also serve as great showcase for those who may be unfamiliar with the work of Donnie Yen.