China Town Kid – 1977
Chang Cheh's 1977 action film sees Alexnader Fu Sheng plays Tang Dong a Young guy who escapes to British Hong Kong in order to find freedom and wealth. Working as a labourer Tang Dong lives along with his Uncle and fellow workers in crowded pitiful circumstances for little money.
But he is happy to be out of Mainland China , but all is not so rosy for Tang Dong when he falls foul of local Triads , in a bid to save his nephew Tang Dong's Uncle arranges for him to get aboard
a ship bound for China Town San-Francisco USA.
For intense and purposes this could read like a real life story of say Bruce Lee.
He even gets a job at a local Restaurant. Now also on route is a another young man by the name of Ah Wen (Sun Chien) , he's a from a wealthy family and has come to study but also needs work and after some arranging Tang Dong and Ah Wen end up working and living at the same Restaurant.
China Town kid was one of the Big Releases in the West in the 80'S . Warner Brothers brought the film over and released it at Cinema's amidst the Kung Fu boom.
From what I can gather the film performed OK and did well on VHS . Though it does mix up stories from past films and real life events . The Way Tang Dong comes about being in the USA is like mentioned before right out of Bruce Lee's real life story.
The film takes more cues from Lee where the Restaurant Owner is terrorised by Triads ( Way of the Dragon ), it's also here where Tang Dong's Character becomes embroidered in the underworld after defending the Restaurant only to be fired.
Impressed by his skills as a fighter Rival Triad Boss White Dragon ( Philip Kwok) recruits Tang Dong and gives him the high life lavishing him in flash suits and expensive goods.
White Dragon is just using Tang to get rid of his rivals and the very Triads Tang has had run ins with before headed by Green Dragon ( Lo Mang) this has consequences for Tang as he loses his friends who now do not like the new look Tang Dong.
The film culminates when Tang Dong realises that he has been used and chooses justice to rid China Town of these thugs.
The Western edit of the film is a good length of two hours , the film features some quite gritty scenes and the violence for a modern day action film for the time is quite near the mark at times.
The Hong Kong edit was cut and re-edited to tone down the violence at the time and loses 30 minutes approx in the process.
Of course the highlight of the film is the actin with well placed fight scenes. Each showing Alexander Fu Sheng in full flight. His character is often light hearted in the film and only gets serious when the bolts are tightened.
Add in the casting of three of the Venoms , Sun Chien making his first appearance in film here.
I love the way the depiction of San-Francisco China Town and the way it's shot , obviously on the Shaw Brothers Lot. There a couple of Location scenes to set up the film at the early stages but these are minor just to give the illusion of this all taking place in the USA.
This film introduced the world to Alexander Fu Sheng and the Venoms to a degree. The films made after this shows how this film built a fan-base for these stars , yes Alexander had starred in other films before but this was a headline feature for him .
This film was part of a group of Shaw Films that Warner Brothers released in the West , others at the time where The Five Venoms , Men from the Monastery and Heroes Two. These are the ones I remember releasing on Warner Home Video in the early 80's .
In short China Town Kid is a must see from the Shaw's catalogue as one of the few Modern Day set Kung Fu films they shot.
Review Date 26-04-2020
Review By Sertes Nake
image Copyright (c) Shaw Brothers 1977 (C) Celestial Pictures 2005