1979 • Hong Kong • Directed by Sammo Hung
Having established himself as Hong Kong’s premier action choreographer throughout the 1970s, Sammo Hung ended the decade by directing a non-stop assault of kung fu classics for Golden Harvest, starting with the brutal Iron-Fisted Monk. But it would be his 1979 directorial effort that would finally give his Peking Opera brother-in-arms, acrobatic ace Yuen Biao, his first chance at leading man status: Knockabout!
Brothers and partners-in-crime, Yipao (Biao) and Taipao (Warriors Two’s “Beardy” Leung Kar-Yan), have made an up-and-down career out of being hustlers, conning everyone from bank tellers to casino dealers. One day, they push their luck with the wrong man, martial arts master Chia Wu Dao (legendary Shaw Brothers fight choreographer Lau Kar-Wing), but convince him to reluctantly become their teacher in hand-to-hand combat. But upon learning Chia's dangerous true nature, Yipao turns to another master: a portly blinking beggar (Hung) trained in the ways of the monkey fist. Will this new skill defeat Chia's secret snake style?
Combining Hung’s hard-hitting choreography with the Mo Lei Tau style of humor that was increasing in popularity at the time, Knockabout is a thrill-a-minute action spectacular that would pave the way for later masterpieces such as Hung and Biao's subsequent collaboration, the Wing Chun tour-de-force The Prodigal Son.