8 April 2006 | plotlessviolence
One of the better kung fu movies, but not quite as flawless as I had hoped given the glowing reviews. The movie starts out well enough, with the jokes being visual enough that they translate the language barrier (which is rarer than you'd think for this era) and make the non-fight dialogue sequences passable (for a kung fu movie, this is a great compliment). Unlike other Chinese action movies, which were always period pieces or (in the wake of Jackie Chan's Police Story I) cop dramas, Pedicab Driver gives us a look at contemporary rural China. Unfortunately, in the latter 1/3 of the movie it takes a nosedive into dark melodrama tragedy which I thought was unnecessary.
The action is overall good, featuring a duel between Sammo and 1/2 of the Shaw Brothers' only 2 stars, Kar-Leung Lau and then a fight at the end with that taller guy who always plays Jet Li's bad guy. There's only 20 minutes of combat here, which is standard, but what annoys me is the obvious speeding up of the camera frames. I get that they have to film half speed to avoid hurting each other, but there are smooth edits and then there's this. It really takes away from the fights when it's this obvious the footage was messed with.
That said, if you like kung fu movies, my opinion here won't dissuade you, and if you don't, you just wasted 2 minutes of your life reading this.