6 October 2006 | BA_Harrison
Keep on watching... it gets a whole lot better towards the end!
About half an hour into Knockabout and I was ready to award it a rating of 6; the martial arts were not particularly impressive and the comedy was routine. Half an hour later and I had changed my mind; the action had improved somewhat and the story was picking up. A 7 now seemed like a reasonable score.
By the end of the film, however, I was utterly flabbergasted: Knockabout had improved beyond belief, delivering one of the most impressive finales in a martial arts movie that I have had the pleasure to witness. I now award the movie an 8 and highly recommend it to fans of the genre.
Yuen Baio and Ka-Yan Leung play brothers Yipao and Taipao, lovable rogues who convince a martial arts expert to take them on as students. When Yipao discovers that their teacher is actually a wanted criminal, Silver Fox (Chia Yung Liu), he is attacked by his master. Taipao jumps in to protect his sibling but is killed; Yipao barely escape with his life. Seeking revenge, Yipao enlists the help of a beggar (Sammo Hung) who is a master of monkey-style kung fu, and together they take on Silver Fox in a breath-taking fight to the death.
On reflection, I now realise that the earlier, less impressive fights were deliberately underwhelming in order to show how much the brothers still had to learn. As they gain more experience, the fights get better and better, until the mind-bogglingly acrobatic ending in which Biao performs feats that need to be seen to be believed.
The training scenes with Sammo's beggar involve some of the greatest acrobatics I have ever witnessed and these alone make the film worth watching. A final battle with Hung and Biao combining their monkey kung fu skills against Chia Yung Liu's snake style rounds off a wonderfully satisfying movie experience.
Knockabout is a real treat for all lovers of old-school martial arts movies and especially fans of Yuen Baio and Sammo Hung.