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  • Sammo Hung's 1989 film Pedicab Driver is considered by many to be his masterpiece. I have to agree to some extent as the film in its greatest parts really gets as incredible and fantastic as any Hong Kong film ever has. It is a combination of pretty good and well written drama, interesting and sympathetic (and also non-sympathetic) characters, some genuinely funny humor and truly over-the-top hyper kung fu that is guaranteed to make many jaws drop when someone not familiar with Hong Kong cinema watches the film as well as it does to the experienced enthusiasts of the unique industry.

    Sammo and Max Mok Siu Chung play two pedicab drivers who live in Hong Kong in the middle part of the last century, I think. They drive their cabs and are also desperate for love. Sammo is interested in local baker girl Ping (Nina Li Chi) while Max one day meets a mysterious and beautiful Fennie Yuen Kit-Ying he falls madly in love with. Many other characters get introduced, too, and they remain pretty clear all the time if the viewer really concentrates on the film and its plot so I cannot say the film is confusing as it could be much worse especially in Hong Kong! Soon we get to know, for instance, that a ruthless gangster family is terrorizing the neighborhood and of course their violent acts affect our protagonists, too, and so the premise for some of the most incredibly choreographed kung fu fight sequences has been created. As well as some nice drama.

    The film has a great cast. The leads are all very good and restrained (not as painfully awful over-acting and "humor" as in Sammo's otherwise great Eastern Condors (1987), for example) and they are also, thanks to the carefully written screenplay, pretty likable and easy to identify with. The cast includes many familiar HK cinema faces and directors in small roles like Corey Yuen Kwai (the legendary action director and director of films like Saviour of the Soul 1 and 2, Ninja in the Dragon's Den and Fong Sai Yuk 1 and 2), the masterful composer Lowell Lo Koon-Ting (John Woo's The Killer and Ringo Lam's School on Fire and Prison on Fire among many others, Pedicab Driver included!), the Shaw veteran Liu Chia Liang (whom with Sammo has a furious fight with sticks), Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting (the director of dark HK noir classic On the Run from 1988), the late great Lam Ching Ying (best known for his friendly face in various HK vampire horror/kung fu/comedies) to name just a few. In fact, the cast in Pedicab Driver is one of the most interesting I've seen in any other HK production.

    The film has some interesting peaceful moments most notably about the love affair between Max Mok and Fennie Yuen and one crisis they confront thanks to Lowell Lo's character. They really could have done this a completely serious piece if they had wanted as the discussions about human values and meaning of love, no matter what's your past or what you've done for living, get so serious and genuinely effective at the middle part that the film immediately gets much more noteworthy than our average kung fu spectacle actioner. Also the other characters' efforts to cure things is very touching and tells delightfully much about right human relations and friendship, and of course love. Still I think what Fennie says to Max (about the future "bad cooking") is very unnecessary and tones the potential of the whole segment and its themes down pretty effectively, unfortunately.

    But then we get to the thing the film makers were interested the most in. Which is the action, the outrageous and over-the-top action. The fight scenes include traditional kung fu, some sticks, meat cleavers and the like and they're used here as hysterically as in the most mind blowing kung fu scene I've seen in any film ever, Jackie Chan's Drunken Master II (1994), they really are that great! There are wires and they're used very cleverly and people literally fly to the opposite corner of the room when they get kicked or punched. Simply amazing and again something ONLY Hong Kong cinema can deliver. Also the dangerous stunts make the viewer hold his/her breath as the film has one fast car vs. pedicab chase sequence and various dangerous looking jumps and twisting bodies flying through the air and crushing with force to the hard destination. Still the film makers seem not to "accept" the violence of the film as Sammo is, like the late Bruce Lee, willing to give himself up after the final murderous mayhem at the gangster villa, and I think this kind of morale, no matter how obvious or shallow it may be, is a good thing even in a harmless film like this, as cinema is meant to be much more than just brainless entertainment.

    The film has also some very witty bits of humor that I'm not sure everyone in Hollywood or America (for example) would understand or like at all. The hilarious Star Wars gag at the beginning is definitely among these and it literally forced me to laugh when I realized what I was seeing. Also some funny scenes are created out of Sammo's passion for Ping. Still, the greatest amazement-filled laugh came during the scenes depicted in the former pharagraph as the imagery of big and tall men flying with great force over the screen to the walls or furniture is simply INSANE and so breathtaking I just cannot hide my feelings and thoughts about these Eastern film makers when I witness something like this, and this is nothing but positive and appreciating reaction, of course.

    Pedicab Driver is among the most incredible Hong Kong action films that I have ever seen and easily among Sammo's greatest achievements. If the few minor flaws were not there, this could rate even brighter and higher. 8/10
  • This, "Prodigal Son" and "Eastern Condors" are my favourite Sammo Hung films. The Fat Dragon is fatter in this outing than he was in "Condors", but he's no less sure-footed as director or actor. He is, in fact, at the top of his form and delivers a devastating, brutal actioner that boasts half a dozen amazing sequences and manages to tell a compassionate, sweet love story also. Love and romance are not the director's priorities here, but they serve as curious adjuncts to the action, and insure that viewers don't hit the fast-forward button between the physical clashes.

    The opening scene, which features a funny light sabre duel, sets a solid but deceptive tone. A sequence in which Sammo's pedicab is chased by a car is beautifully staged and sweetened with a sharp, comic tone. The fast and furious stick fight between Sammo and Lau Kar Leung is a model of dazzling choreography and sharp, superb direction, and easily one of the best ever of its type. The film's violence escalates slowly until, finally, when the climactic showdown comes, we are subjected to some of the most brutal altercations ever seen in a Sammo production. The director/actor's assault on Billy Chow and a house filled with angry, menacing opponents is a bone-cracking, physically punishing delight.

    Terrific on every level and one of the best martial arts movies ever made.

    Great score, too.
  • "...The film is like a battleground. Love. Hate. Action. Violence. Death. In one word...emotion." -Samuel Fuller, "Pierrot Le Fou"

    Before "Kung-Fu Panda" there was Sammo Hung, who is a burly martial arts action star, and in "Pedicab Driver" a five star director who knows how to throw his weight around without missing a beat. Like Jackie Chan (who he choreographed fight sequences for), Hung combines physical comedy with self propelled stunt work, showcasing both the fury and the funny.

    In 1930's Macau, China two rival groups of pedicab drivers negotiate how to split up the cities work, half will take passengers, and the other half will take cargo, and civil war is nearly averted until a chef chases a cat into the room and all hell breaks loose. The subsequent battle seamlessly recalls both "Star Wars" and "The Three Stooges", without loosing any of it's frantic energy or becoming a parody.

    Pedicab Driver is first and foremost a Hong Kong action film, but while watching it you don't get the sense that each scene is designed to introduce a new excuse to fight. Some sequences, like the battle in the gambling den, do seem non-sequitters, as we never return to that set or it's characters, but the execution of this scene is so flawless that you rarely ease back from the edge of your seat long enough to mind let alone gripe. Sammo and his friend "Malted Candy" are passenger drivers, who both fall in love in with different girls at the same time. Sammo has to compete with a lecherous baker to win the heart of his girl in classic slapstick fashion.

    While Malted Candy's story, which is minimized early on but expanded later, takes the form of a romance, and then a tragedy once it's revealed that his love interest is not all she seems. This does not have the makings of a great tale, but it is very much a great movie, that handles these stories with a poise that genuinely enhances the action sequences, which are almost submerged under the story and characters (a rarity if not a freak, for an action film of this caliber).

    Yes, the bad guy is ugly, the good guy is handsome which is all very obvious, but Sammo is big ol kung fu teddy bear, whose agility and lightening fast speed belie his Chris Farely physique, and it's his performance which elevates the movie into something amazing. The comedy is funny, the romance is sweet, and the action is one of a kind combining the best of martial arts cinema, with an easily accessible drama that makes us care about the characters and their pains, joys, and inevitable revenge.

    Pedicab Driver is badass and brutal at times, but never sacrifices the charming lightness that makes the movie so enjoyable and gratifying in a way few of it's exciting peers (then and now) permit themselves to be. It's the type of film that gives the impression that everyone involved was enjoying themselves by effortlessly doing what I do best. This joy pours from the screen, and it's hard not to become immersed in it.

    I recently watched another HK action film featuring Sammo called "Zu: Warriors Of The Magic Mountain" and though it had similar sizzling combat (though largely artificial; wire or animation driven), it lacked a humane element, like reading a dry translation of an ancient myth. Pedicab Driver has a face, and a heart, and a fist, and watching them collide is a true joy to behold. I challenge anyone to not be entertained by this movie. Go on, I dare you!
  • I was really not that impressed by this movie, there is some really good fight scenes, and the star wars reference is brilliant. But overall there is a LOT of time wasted by pointless "running around being silly" in an atempt to make comedy; its fails bad. Im not one of those not understanding the beauty of slap stick kung fu comedy, but in this movie the comedy fails, only the fighting is good.
  • GodzillaVSJaws28 May 2010
    Warning: Spoilers
    if us kung fu fans stuck together we could have gotten this film the highest rating on IMDb. this is the perfect example of what the golden age of HK cinema was like. Sammo Hung does some of his best fights in this movie, and the comedy is actually funny this time. a true classic, what is wrong with you guys!?!?! i could watch any of these fight scenes for an hour and still see something knew each time, thats how good they are. In the action genre, the U.S. nowadays is getting beat by Thailand and HK. We need another true action hero, in the same vein as Chuck Norris. I guess it really doesn't matter who makes the best movies, as long as the action is good!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    PEDICAB DRIVER is one of Sammo Hung's most well-developed films of the 1980s and clearly a labour of love for the writer/director/star. It's a shame that few western viewers have seen it given that it has had a very limited release history in the west, which I'm quite surprised about given that it's up there with rival Jackie Chan movies from the same era. This is a film which has everything and plenty of everything at there: there are not one but two romantic sub-plots, there's some slapstick comedy, the usual one-of-a-kind Chinese humour that's difficult to describe or replicate elsewhere, and of course copious action in the form of vehicle chases and incredible fight scenes.

    Sammo has also assembled a quite incredible all-star cast for his movie. Sure, Jackie and Yuen aren't present, but there are other all-time greats here, including not one but two immortal and near-indestructible fighters, Billy Chow and Dick Wei. The latter only has a one-scene cameo, but Billy Chow has a fantastic henchman role. Mang Hoi has a very good supporting role as an ally as does Lam Ching-Ying, and John Sham hams it up a treat as the chief villain of the piece. Watch out for Corey Yuen, Lau Kar-Leung, and Eric Tsang in various roles too. Sammo's love interest in the film is meanwhile played by Nina Li Chi, aka Jet Li's real-life wife, and makes quite the impression as someone you could readily fall for.

    Pretty much everyone who sees PEDICAB DRIVER is going to come into it looking for great action and they won't be disappointed. There are only three or four fight scenes in this film but they really make an impact, from mass brawls to one-on-one demonstrations of skill. Inevitably the best part of the movie is by far the powerhouse climax, in which Chow comes into his own and the stunts and hits are out of this world. All in all a thoroughly fitting close to what has been a superior, well-rounded fight flick.
  • What can I add that the previous comments haven't already said. This is a great film and the Light Sabre duel Star Wars tribute has to be seen to be believed!! There are moments of genius throughout this movie, if you can, SEE IT NOW! Thanks again to Rick Baker who gave me this movie many years ago!
  • This is one of the best Hong Kong (action) films around and it has a tense and exciting storyline as well as great fight scenes. This Sammo film has it all, Romance, Drama, Excitement and a great hero as well. It is the only martial arts film that got me interested in the plot rather than just waiting for the fights. Sammo fans- This is a must see (See also Eastern Condors, Shanghai Express (Yuen Biao is Ace!), Dragons Forever and Enter the Fat Dragon.
  • Pedicab driver effortlessly mixes genres in a way that feels like it uniquely belongs to HK cinema. It has comedy,tragedy, kung fu and it manages to be a period piece while it's at it! I love absolutely everything about this film from its cast, to the choreography and its constantly interesting and genre-bending story.

    A legendary film

    10 out of 10!
  • JoshuaDysart4 September 2019
    Great stuff! Sammo beats, takes beatings, and falls in love while driving a rickshaw in 1930s Portuguese controlled Macau.

    Sammo's got something to say about the plight of women under patriarchal management, be they bakers or prostitutes, and he mostly finds the right tone for it. Which is nice in a 1980's HK feature because it does sometimes feel like the inherent feminine warrior of 1970's wuxia fell away and the 80's kung-fu films became mostly a masculine ordeal (save of course for the GIRLS WITH GUNS subgenre and a few other, rare, examples).

    The action is scorching. A fight between Chia-Liang Liu and Sammo in a gambling house is for real. Yet, strangely, this awesome character never gets a callback for the rest of the film. Why couldn't the Gambling House Boss return to knock heads for the super awesome final fight? Surely they could've cast one more white guy to get his butt handed to him. Oh well.

    It is the want of many a Sammo film to have the action measured out, decorating the hood and trunk of the movie but letting the the bulky center sag under the weight of romantic comedy and tragedy. The same is true here. So be it. If you're a fan, you won't mind.

    But why Macau in the '30's? No idea. It seems to add nothing to the film. Fortunately, it doesn't detract from it either.
  • ebiros227 February 2013
    Good movie that combines action with romance.

    Tung (Sammo Hung) is a pedicab driver. He has a pretty girl (LI Chi) that he gets attracted to that works at the baker next door. Malted Candy (Siu Ching Mok) who's also a pedicab driver runs into (literally) a girl (Fannie Yuen). Upon seeing her, he's instantly in love with her. He tries to mend the wrong, and his sincerity catches her heart too. There's a gang boss that's running a prostitute ring, and she works for him. Malted Candy's attempt to marry her, and get her out of the influence of the gang boss gets them in deadly harms way.

    This is how a kung fu action movie should be. The actresses are good looking, and fight scenes are pretty awesome. There's humor to the side stories, and the supporting casts puts in a good performance. Nina Li Chi (Who's now Jet Li's wife), and Fannie Yuen looks really good in this movie. They were the actual focus of this story.

    Bitter Sweet romance between Fannie Yuen, and Siu Ching Mok was nicely written.

    This is one of Sammo Hung's best movie and is recommended for viewing.
  • This is one excellent Sammo Hung movie. Actually, this is a great piece of Hong Kong action cinema. The story tells the story of pedicab drivers in Macao looking for love and getting mixed up w/ a vicious pimp. The performances are excellent and the characters are all likable and well-defined. The story is involving and has enough romance, drama, comedy, and suspense to keep one watching between fight scenes. Sammo Hung proves here that he's probably the best fight choreographer in the business. The action is simply amazing, esp. the fight w/ Lau Kar Leung and the finale. Billy Chow and Sammo Hung are amazing. A must see for any fan of action.
  • plotlessviolence8 April 2006
    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.