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  • Annie-2713 September 2000
    I saw this movie with a large audience at a film festival recently and it nearly blew the roof off the place. It's a perfect example of an entertaining film, without a single unnecessary scene. Of course the fight scenes (the reason you're watching a kung fu flick in the first place) are great. This film has a real sense of humor and a great pace; it could be useful for converting new fans to the whole genre.
  • In the wake of Jackie Chan's success in "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow" and "Drunken Master" came movies like this one. But while it prominently features three kung-fu styles (drunken style, monkey style, and snake style) popularized by Chan in his breakthrough films, "Snake in the Monkey's Shadow" does not adhere to the comedy kung-fu formula. There's some clowning, but it's kept to a minimum--and it ends abruptly as the tone of the film becomes deadly serious halfway through. John Chang stars as Lung, a hapless young man who works at a fish shop. When he arrives late at the home of the wealthy Yan family with a delivery of fish, he is humiliated by Mr. Yan's sons. A drunken-style sifu takes pity on Lung and soon he is the teacher's prize pupil--but Lung gets cocky, beating up Mr. Yan's sons and dishonoring his teacher. In retaliation, Yan sends a couple of hired killers (Wilson Tong and Charlie Chan), both experts in the snake style, after Lung's sifu. The sifu and all of his students--except for Lung--are murdered. Seriously wounded, Lung takes refuge with his friend, a master of the monkey style. Unfortunately, the hired killers are after Lung's friend, too, because he bested one of them in a fight three years earlier. After the villains kill the monkey stylist, Lung trains rigorously for revenge, developing a new technique by combining the drunken and monkey styles. (For the record, there is a real drunken monkey form! Dr. Leung Ting has even authored an instructional book on it.) The final fight is sensational and, at its conclusion, delightfully brutal. In my book, "Snake in the Monkey's Shadow" outshines the Jackie Chan films from which it is derived because it isn't just for laughs. Chan has some dazzling moves, but the comedy wears thin pretty quickly. Like all the best kung-fu films, "...Monkey's Shadow" is full of tragedy and righteous rage. And great fighting!
  • Be prepared to be converted to being a life long fan of monkey kung fu movies after seeing this movie! This is the *granddaddy* of monkey kung fu movies! Prepare to have your world rocked with movie coolness monkey kung fu style! One of the all time most entertaining movies ever made! This is what kung fu movies are supposed to be... highly entertaining, jaw dropping edge of your seat fight sequences and great humor.

    I had the chance to see this fine movie as the 4th Annual Tarantino Film Festival. When Tarantino introduced the movie he showed off his monkey kung fu and drunken style kung fu skills which were dead on. Though I will note that in the version shown at this fest it shows about a 2 minute sequence involving a monkey fight a snake, which is crucial to the plot towards the end... which on most video versions of this movie is completely cut out which pretty much renders the end of the movie sorta confusing and disjointed. So if you do look for this film be sure and look for the uncut complete version of it with the full monkey fighting the snake sequence. There are various movie places out there that sell the uncut version. If you watch a edited version of this movie you will probably scratch your head and wonder why anyone would rave about this movie... you know the slightest of cuts to a movie in any length at crucial points in the movie can have the hugest effect on it... and this is one of those cases.

    From the opening scenes of someone jumping from tree to tree monkey kung fu style I was hooked with this movie. The movie gets you involved from beginning to end. The good guys in the movie are all fight monkey kung fu style with some mixing in some drunken style, which makes for a super super cool combination. The bad guys all fight snake fist style which makes for an awesome adversary in fighting techniques.

    I can say I haven't seen an audience so into a movie and so full of joy afterwards since I first saw the movie The Matrix. This is like one of those ultimate kung fu movies that fires and hits on all cylinders. Many of us have seen so many bad kung fu movies we forget there are those gems like this one that revitalizes you, takes you to movie paradise... that magical feeling you get when you walk out of a movie that makes you remember why you love movies in the first place. The climax and final fight sequence in the uncut version of this film is one of the best fight sequences I've seen in any movie. You are literally almost on your feet or at the edge of your seat with your arms and legs reacting with kung fu moves to what is happening on the screen as you root for the good guy.

    I have become the hugest fan of monkey kung fu movies after seeing this movie and I'm sure anyone out there that sees this movie will want to run out and rent or buy every monkey kung fu movie they can find... though there aren't too many movies in any genre quite as entertaining and cool as this one. Hopefully the fine folks at Criterion will someday turn this into their fine collection of DVD releases.
  • first saw this movie when i was about 5 or 6 when my uncle gave me the VHS.

    this was the uncut version, all the DVD's of this film to be released that i know of have the most important scene taken out of it for animal rights reasons - there is a 2-3 minute long clip of a monkey killing a snake in an actual fight between the 2 animals (who knows how many animals they went through to get the shot of a monkey crushing the snakes head with his mouth?!?). this is the scene where the title character finally understands the power of the monkey style, and its effectiveness against the snake style - the style it was designed to combat.

    anyway, at that age i was easily impressed, but this was just ridiculous. i don't think i have EVER been so impressed by anything in my entire life. i must have watched this film 5 times a day for a good 4 months over the summer (note, maybe a slight exaggeration).

    i didn't then see it for the best part of 10 years until i finally unearthed the gem again and sat down to watch it - AND OH DEAR, if its possible i think i was more impressed this time round. probably due to sentimental reasons, but still, i was blown away by the acrobatics and greatly accurate portrayal of both the fighting styles and ancient china.

    if you dare to call yourself a martial arts fan, or, well - even a SLIGHT fan of films - then i would challenge your integrity if you were to say you hadnt seen this movie, this 'shrine to everything good about life'! THATS how much i rate this film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I loved this film from the moment it started, The opening credits alone are worth viewing. The Kung fu on display during the movie is top notch and the story is well above par for a Hong Kong flick of it's era. The dubbing is a bit suspect in places, but it adds to the whole 'chop-suey' atmosphere. There are funny moments (usualy to do with the dubbing), there are sad moments and of course the down right excellent action scenes in between. The music is amazing, The same as that from Jackie Chan's Drunken Master, and it fits perfectly.

    There is one tiny downside; the DVD version is ever-so-slightly cut. Only one scene, but an important one. It is the scene in which our young hero studies a monkey killing a snake and adapts it's movements to combat the evil snake style killers. In the VHS version of the film which was released years ago, we witness the whole 'fight' and act of a real monkey killing a real snake. Due to animal cruelty laws (I would imagine) this scene is not in the DVD; instead we see a monkey and a snake, followed by the lead's face as he watches and then back to the monkey holding the now dead snake. We are left to figure what happened in between (not a difficult feat, but I preferred the original with its more graphic fore-shadowing.) That aside, this film leaves me with fond memories of watching it while I was growing up. Watch it as well and create some of your own fantastic memories.
  • Long before the Kung-Fu cinema of this period became a cult following and channel 5 (FOX) started running the more contemporary of these movies on Saturday afternoons, my cousin told me about a movie that he'd seen on 42nd st. (NYC, the Mecca of the kung-Fu craze) that I had to see.

    As a kid, we had grown up on some of the older stuff, 5 Fingers Of Death, 7 Blows of the dragon, and all of the Bruce Lee movies. Most of this during the blackploitation era.

    Then there was a lull in our Kung-Fu diet, well as far as anything new and different was concerned.

    So when I finally saw this with my cousin on his recommendation (Said it was so good he had to see it again) I was blown away. I'd never seen anything like it before or since (with the exception of "Kung Fu Hustle" which now ranks a 10 on my greatest Kung-Fu list) The story was tight, the choreography was above average for it's time and the cinematography was top notch.

    What I like best about this movie, compared to all the others, is that you didn't see a guy get punched or kicked 12 times before coughing up blood and then coming back to give 24 blows of his own before that person hacked up a lung.

    This was a three to four hit minimum movie, which means there was more focus on style and defense in the fight scenes before eventually someone scored a hit, and when they got hit, they felt it..like a real fight more or less.

    Also, this was one of the first movies to give you the styles that appeared here....Drunkard, Monkey, Snake and when you think about it, all three are the more flamboyant of styles (not to leave out the Mantis style) I've argued with other Kung-Fu aficionados in video stores over a novice's query as to what's the best Kung Fu movie to start out with.

    Hands Down, you up your Kung-Fu appreciation immensely with this gem.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I haven't seen many Hong Kong kung-fu classics, but watching this somewhat demented zero-to-hero pic has certainly perked my curiosity about a genre I know little about but which, on this evidence, offers delirious pleasures.

    After an abstract credits sequence showing human bodies in mortal combat, the film begins with a kind of prologue in which a master practitioner of the snake style of kung-fu is beaten by a master of the monkey-style. The snake-master begs his vanquisher to kill him, but the monkey-master spares his life. Snake tells monkey that he will regret this...

    Years later, a rube of a fishmonger's assistant yearns to study the drunken-style of kung-fu at a local school. After being beaten up by a couple of arrogant sons of a local feudal lord, the fishmonger begs the drunken-master to teach him, but instead is taken on as a skivvy. He clandestinely practises the moves he sees being taught, and soon proves himself more adept that the official students. He gets his revenge by beating the sons, and drags his master into the fray when their father seeks redress. The rich man hires two snake experts to teach the drunken-master a deadly lesson, and one of the snake experts is the master from the prologue.

    The monkey-master is also involved, as he is now living in the same village as a hermit who befriends the hero. When the snake-assassins have killed both drunken-master and monkey-master, the novice learns to combine the monkey-style and drunken-style in a way which proves fatal to his foes.

    The film is basically a string of fight sequences, linked by this flimsy story-line. In their way, the fights are equivalent to musical numbers in musicals and sex sequences in pornography - in fact, the careful choreography of the fights and the eroticism of the young male flesh in Snake in the Monkey's Shadow makes the comparison to these two genres very apt. Yet the most striking sequence doesn't involve human combat - there's a truly nail-biting fight between a tethered monkey and a hissing snake which is prolonged, vicious and chilling, not least when you think of how the animals in question must have suffered to get it on screen.

    Animal cruelty, campy dialogue, paper-thin & polarised characterisation, unfunny slapstick and eye-popping set pieces strung together in a flimsy storyline - Snake in the Monkey's Shadow is classic exploitation fare. It's kinetic displays of human and animal flesh contorted into extraordinary shapes and stretched to the limits of endurance, all with kinetic fury, makes the film a text-book example of what popular cinema is all about, for better or worse.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Before CGI, wire-fu and bullet-time could make anyone a Kung Fu fighter, and before Jet Li and Jackie headed west to find fame and fortune in Hollywood, martial arts movies were a different kettle of fish.

    The heroes were always poor, the baddies always had evil laughs, the master had grey hair (preferably long and paired with impressive eyebrows), someone nearly always inexplicably had a red nose or a hairy mole, and every move had a terrific sound effect.

    Snake in the Monkey's Shadow is the daddy of old school kung-fu and, although missing a red-nosed or hairy moled character, it pretty much has all you would want from a film of this nature.

    The film opens with a great scene where we are introduced to Khoo, a master of monkey style, and the evil Shao, a snake style fighter. The two fight in a forest and Shao is defeated, but swears revenge. The action here is great, with Khoo leaping from tree to tree and Shao's moves accompanied by snake hisses.

    Three years later, Khoo is befriended by a young man, Liang, who is learning drunken style from his master, Ho (who has grey hair, but average sized eyebrows). Liang beats two bullies in a fight, so their father hires two experts in snake style kung fu (yup, nasty Shao and his equally nasty friend) to attack Ho's school. Ho is killed and Liang is injured.

    Liang goes to Khoo, who teaches him monkey style kung fu. Soon enough Shao and his buddy turn up to fight Khoo, and despite Liang helping, Khoo is killed. Liang swears revenge.

    Liang witnesses Khoo's monkey fighting a snake, and develops his own unique style - drunken monkey kung fu! He is now ready for a final deadly showdown.

    All of the action is great - some really acrobatic stuff from all involved - and it makes you realise how crap wire-fu really is. This is pure martial arts, unaided by modern technology.

    And, although I usually prefer my foreign films subtitled, the dubbing on this one only makes it better! Movie purists should be aware that many modern prints of this film are missing one vital scene - the monkey killing the snake is cut (I understand why, but it does ruin a pivotal moment in the film).

    This film is perfect for a night in with a few mates and some beers. Don't miss it!
  • legrand-walter528 February 2020
    I've seen a lot of movies! Martial art movies aren't considered much, as Oscar worthy, or acting worthy! They never get the respect due! This movie entertains and the star did a great acting job! I love this movie and still watch it from time to time! If I had a top ten list, it would be number 3 on my list!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Entertaining kung fu comedy/drama, typical of its kind and evocative of a period in which the Jackie Chan film DRUNKEN MASTER and others led to a wave of then new-style Hong Kong flicks all following the same premise. Fans should know the routine by now: a young, accident-prone young man decides to learn martial arts after being beaten by one or more bad guys. The teacher refuses to let him learn but eventually the young man's skill and enthusiasm lead the teacher to accept the offer of a new pupil. The young man uses his new-found skills to beat up those who had previously fought him, and the bad guys fight back by attacking the school. Eventually, outside help is called in, people die, the story takes a dramatic turn, and things play out in one long battle to the death at the film's finale.

    Where SNAKE IN THE MONKEY'S SHADOW excels is in the quality of the action offered. The various martial artists are very very good indeed and their fights and training kept interesting through the three different styles involved: the bumbling, idiotic "drunken" style; the agile, flexible "monkey" style; the quick and deadly "snake" style. Add in plenty of fight sequences involving the various styles battling against each other, a whole new style being developed in the process ("drunken monkey") and an almost profound fight scene between a real-life snake and monkey and you have an evening's worth of entertainment for the average kung fu fan. Ignore the lack of budget and familiarity of the plot and instead sit back and witness some great kung fu fighting which doesn't let up. There are no slow spots or weak areas in the film, instead it offers action-packed entertainment from start to finish.

    John Cheung is no Jackie Chan but performs well in the title role, making an effective transition from clueless newbie to new-fangled martial arts master. The supporting cast is highly effective and blessed with some very skilled performers who make complex moves look simple and easy to perform. The fight choreography is outstanding. The comedy value is high, especially at the beginning of the movie, and the typical dubbing job plays out the comedic aspects of the storyline by giving the one of the villains a stereotypically homosexual-sounding voice. As such the film stands head and shoulders above similar fare from the period – even over praised classics.
  • This is a pretty decent flick. Classic Kung Fu at its best (or worst, depends on how you look at it). The great Mobus would approve.