Half a Loaf of Kung Fu
After the death of Bruce Lee in 1973, Hong Kong producers began scrambling to find his successor. One of the more promising heirs to the throne was a young Jackie Chan, who at least seemed to have some impressive kung fu moves down. But Chan's personality didn't fit in with the more hard-edged style espoused by Lee, and so Jackie's first few films such as New Fist of Fury were outright flops.
Exasperated and still desperate to find his next new big star, producer Lo Wei allowed Chan to take creative control of his next project. Chan had long been intrigued by the notion of incorporating comedy with kung fu, and the local audience's desire to see something different in martial arts films made this a perfect opportunity for Chan to see if his ideas would work.
The results here, unfortunately, pretty much fall flat. The comedy is clumsy and far too broad, relying on obvious overcranking, musical cues stolen wholesale from cartoons such as "Popeye", and boring toilet humor. Overall, Half a Loaf of Kung Fu seems like an experiment gone wrong, with Chan throwing everything at the viewer with very middling results. When gears switch to a more traditional mode during the final act, the film does pull itself out of the depths of cinematic ineptitude, but by then, most people will have lost interest.
Of course, Chan would find success in the comedy kung fu genre later the same year with the classic Drunken Master, which begs the question: what the hell happened here? Chan himself has admitted that Half a Loaf of Kung Fu was a sort of practical joke that he pulled on Lo Wei, a person whom he did not get along with at all.
The big problem with that type of film-making is that if you're creating something just to please one person (especially if it is yourself) you're most likely going to alienate the viewer in the process. Half a Loaf of Kung Fu is an entry for Jackie Chan completists only - and even they should approach this production with a bit of caution, or perhaps a nice six-pack.
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