knew kung fu was so bureaucratic? Not surprisingly, the Chinese Kung Fu
Association is all about keeping up appearances and closing ranks.
Unfortunately, Master Lau finds himself effectively black-balled when his son
and a fellow student are humiliated in Thailand by Muay Thai fighters. However,
he also has a daughter. There will be some avenging to do in Feng Huang’s The Tournament, which is included in The Angela Mao Ying Collection now
available from Shout Factory.
are not legally responsible for deaths in the ring during Thailand’s mixed
martial arts matches. Nevertheless, Pepsi evidently signed on as a sponsor.
Eager to showcase Muay Thai’s dominance, agents regularly try to recruit
Chinese Kung Fu practitioners, offering them large sums just to participate. When
loan sharks kidnap the sister of one of Master Lau’s students, he and Lau’s son
Hong reluctantly accept. Hong loses badly, but at least he survives. His friend
is not so lucky. The shame wrought by the scandalized Kung Fu Association effectively
kills Master Lau as well.
their denigration of Lau’s Kung Fu, nobody can best his daughter, Siu Fung.
Yet, she only outrages the provincial fools further when she vows to study Muay
Thai, in order to develop tactics to beat it. The Association’s decent but
ineffectual director has a colleague in Thailand who can help. Under his
tutelage, Hong and Siu Fung (with a new boyish coif) will win some redemption
in the ring, but this earns them further enemies amongst their mobbed-up opponents.
Tournament is a sort of MMA movie-forerunner,
in which Kung Fu, Muay Thai, and karate all face each other at some point. It
also offers a rare look at Mao without her trademark braids. However, Sammo
Hung’s presence as co-action director and one of Lau’s pig-headed colleagues is
a welcome guarantee of quality control. He deals with the gloves and pads well
enough, but the action in the ring pales in comparison to Mao’s three major
throw-downs, including an Odysseus-like coda in which the returning Siu Fu and
Hong must eject an interloping Japanese karate dojo from their father’s studio.
course, Mao is in her element as the disciplined, outside-the-box Siu Fu. Her
frequent co-star Carter Huang is reasonably serviceable (again) as Hong. Hung
also gets a chance to show some of the charisma that would be apparent in later
films. However, the villains are a rather interchangeable lot of
Tournament might be a bit programmatic
(in a Golden Harvest sort of way), but it is a fine example of Mao and Hung
doing their thing, which is also worth seeing. Frankly, it would be nice to
have a few more like this. Easily recommended for Mao fans and martial arts connoisseurs,
The Tournament is now available on
DVD as part of Shout Factory’s Angela Mao
Labels: Angela Mao, DVD, Martial arts cinema, Muay Thai Boxing