15 October 2008 | bob the moo
Fun cheesy acting with wonderful martial arts action aplenty makes for a dated but very enjoyable film
The King of the Sword and the King of the Spear are, as their names suggest, masters of their respective weapons and have never been defeated. Each year they meet to battle one another but each time the result is the same a draw. They come to the conclusion that, because they know one another so well, it will always be equal and the only way to decide who is best is to each take a student and train them for ten years before letting them loose on one another without revealing the connection between them, whoever wins has therefore been taught by the better man. So they head off to do this, unaware of the darker forces of competition that await them and their new students.
LoveFilm treated me well for once and although it through up a "someday" film in place of one of the ones I wanted sooner rather than later, on this occasion it was a very enjoyable pick. I started watching it in the subtitled mode but after five minutes I decided to watch it in dubbed mode not a choice I normally make but in this case I had a reason. The reason was that it was immediately obvious that this was going to be a very dated and cheesy martial arts film with wild hair, overacting and the like and I figured that I might as well go the whole hog and enjoy a typically cheesy American dub. This will upset purists of course and it did mean that some of the dialogue was changed (including the addition of a joke that references the Spice Girls) but it did add to the fun as I got the impression (looking back at some scenes with subtitles on) that a lot of the original humour doesn't translate particularly well.
This is certainly true of the characters, some of whom do feel like they were created and acted with everyone smacked out of their heads Master Rocking in particular; dubbing doesn't make him any less weird. The plot is a simple affair and the "evil" of my plot summary is very much thrown in at the very end to provide a focused conclusion. It doesn't matter too much though because the film is still fun and engaging even though the focus is on the training for the majority. The main reason for this of course is the action, which is roundly brilliant. There are one or two moments where it is sped-up to the detriment of the action (ie it ends up looking stupid silly) but otherwise it does deserve its praise for how good it is at the weapons stuff. All the fight sequences are well choreographed with humour and skill making them exciting and fun at the same time. Carrying the fun thread, all the actors play well into the silly humour. Sammo and Yung-Lia are both really good in their dual roles and work really well together, getting laughs off one another equally as the dynamics change between the two parts of the film allowing each to be the elder or younger. The support cast are mixed in how they entertain but they all do entertain. Ka-Yan makes for a strong villain full and is just as memorable as the many weird, exaggerated characters in smaller roles. Everyone appears to have weird hair growing everywhere in one case right out of a large mole and everyone overacts in a way that even actors from silent films would feel was pushing it, but yet it works. It does need you to be in a cheesy mood though but if you are it is a lot of fun.
Odd Couple deserves viewers for the quality of its action scenes, which are technically impressive and really well choreographed, but it is also worth coming to for the very silly humour that dominates everything from the characters, the hairstyles and the performances. Those seeking a "serious" martial arts film may baulk at this but the majority of viewers will be too amused to care.