The Fearless Hyena
Martial Arts, Comedy, Action | 92 mins | Released: 1979
Director: Jackie Chan
Starring: Jackie Chan, James Tien, Dean Shek, Hui Lou Chen, Shi-Kwan Yen, Kun Li, Tien-chi Cheng
Our Rating: 7
In The Fearless Hyena, Shing Lung (Jackie Chan) is a youngster, living in a remote village with his grandfather, kung fu master Chen Peng-fei (James Tien). Lung does not take his training seriously enough, he gambles, and he gets into fights which lead him to display the skills his grandfather has told him he must keep secret.
Lung briefly finds employment selling coffins, working for an unscrupulous proprietor (Dean Shek), who even stoops to selling second-hand coffins. Lung is fired when he accidentally traps his boss in one of the coffins. After making his escape, he runs into three thugs he’d beaten up earlier, who ask him to teach them kung fu. Lung meets their sifu, Ti Cha (Lee Kwan), the unskilled leader of the Everything Clan. Master Ti offers Lung a lucrative job training his students and fighting against the top fighters from rival schools. This boosts the reputation of the school and of the scheming Master Ti. However, Lung makes the mistake of naming the school under the Sien Yi clan name. This comes to the attention of evil kung fu master Yen Ting Hua (Yam Sai-kwoon), who finds and kills Lung’s grandfather. But, Lung eventually takes revenge for his grandfather’s murder after undergoing rigorous training from The Unicorn (Chan Wai-Lau).”
The Fearless Hyena is a 1979 Hong Kong kung fu film directed by and starring Jackie Chan. The film was co-directed by Kenneth Tsang.
The Fearless Hyena has been released on several alternative titles internationally, including Revenge of the Dragon (USA video title), Superfighter 3 (West Germany video title), The Shadowman (West Germany video title).
The Fearless Hyena features several unusual fight scenes, including a chopsticks duel, Shing Lung fighting disguised as a cross-eyed mentally retarded man, disguised as a woman, and using “Emotional Kung-Fu”, a style that involves vividly displaying the emotions of anger, sorrow, joy and happiness to find the opponent’s weakness thus fighting whilst crying or laughing.
The only film Jackie Chan completed for Lo Wei’s production company after the success of Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master, The Fearless Hyena was the first one in which he was given true creative control and the title of director.
The Fearless Hyena was Jackie Chan’s directorial debut.
Now You’re a Rotten Egg!
Author: Shawn McKenna from Modesto, California – 29 June 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
“Jackie Chan had just established his Hong Kong popularity with Seasonal Pictures Snake in Eagles Shadow and the sublime Drunken Master. With the success of those films Lo Wei, who lent him out to Seasonal, let Jackie have complete control over his next picture. Fearless Hyena would be Jackie’s directorial debut – though he would be working with a much smaller budget than his Seasonal experience. He would also stunt coordinate and write this film too. This movie would out gross the stellar receipts of Drunken Master and help earn Jackie 6000 HK dollars (his pay was 3000 per film; though he made over 50000 on Drunken Master). This measly pay helped exacerbate the rift between him and Lo Wei which led to his departure and the infamous sequel. Jackie reprises his goofy student role that he played in Drunken Master. This time he is Shing Lung, a talented but capricious student and grandson of Chen Ping Fe (the ubiquitous James Tien). Lung would rather gamble or goof off then study his forms. Little does he know that his Grandfather is marked for death by Yen Ting Hua (the underrated Yam Sai-kwoon aka Yen Shi Kwan) who is trying to destroy the Sien Yi clan founded by Hiu Fei (I just love keeping track of these names, I do not know why). Though Shing is forbidden to teach (or show) the Kung Fu his grandfather teaches him he (of course) does it anyways.
Shing tries to make his grandfather proud by getting a job selling coffins. The coffin dealer played by Dean Shek is an unscrupulous merchant who even sells secondhand coffins. This cameo plays to the strengths of Dean and is quite an interesting and hilarious scene. Hapless Shing blows this opportunity by trapping Dean in one of his favorite coffins. He runs away and while walking the public he is confronted by three ruffians (Great Bear, Stony Egg and Ironhead) he beat up earlier. They want him to teach them Kung Fu.
Shing meets their Master Ti Cha who is in charge of the Everything Clan who has no actual skills except for scheming. Ti offers Lung a position and lots of money to help their school learn effective fighting techniques. Ti uses him in the old ploy as a lowly laborer to fight heads of other schools (so if the lowly laborer is that good, just imagine how good Master Ti is.) This leads to several excellent fight scenes that are incredibly fun to watch. I especially like when Shing fights the Lu Ying and the Willow Sword (using the Pink Panther theme as background music) as a cross-eyed beggar. He then fights a large albeit slow man as a woman (yes, Jackie in Drag and no he is not cute).
Shing then makes a huge mistake by naming the facility under the Sien Yi name. Now the rest of the film is very predictable with the ultimate showdown between Shing Lung and Yen Ting Hua. The way it is handled though is quite sagacious. The training scenes are Jackie at his masochistic best. With him pulling huge sacks, doing amazing upside-down sit-ups with his new trainer the Unicorn having a sadistic gleam in his eyes. Shing is even taught Emotional Kung Fu (which Jackie made up for this film) using Joy, Anger, Sorrow and Happiness to focus on one’s enemy “emotional” weak spot.
One of my favorite scenes is the Dueling Chopsticks scene in which the Unicorn prevents Shing from eating by using his chopsticks (of course.) Unfortunately, it has influenced me to be quite annoying and apply this whenever applicable.
I would not rate this film as highly as Drunken Master. There are problems with the plot that takes too much from Drunken Master. However, I feel that this is an unheralded martial arts piece that is funny and exciting with excellent ideas and stunt choreography by Jackie Chan. This is also a must see if you want to watch Jackie in drag.”