Dragon Lord

"It was awfully chilly in Korea in December 1980. Then we went to Taiwan at the end of January 1981 but it was heavily raining almost everyday. It was so bad we went back to Hong Kong to look for a better location but couldn't find any.... After the rain came the hot days consecutively.... Many people were injured during the tough action scenes and I really had a hard time. Even my manager Willie was really concerned and told me that I should step back from the directors' chair next time. But because I had a tough time making Dragon Lord, I was very happy when the film was completed."
Jackie Chan

What a genius piece of work. Every action/stunt scene in this is done to perfection, no doubt. What else is nice is that every scene is very different and they’re all done perfectly by Jackie and his stunt team. Jackie as Dragon is the son of a wealthy family who likes to move around, play or be lazy, rather than study. In fact, he hates studying, kind of a mischievous teenager living in the countryside.

In this scene under his dad’s surveillance, Chan shows a sequence of great kung-fu moves and swordplay. Not as acrobatic as the training scene in Drunken Master but his moves are at its finest. Makes you want to slow-mo and copy the moves. Dragon’s best friend is his cousin Cowboy played by Mars, who is also Jackie’s great friend in real life. They’d play together, fool around and chase girls all the time. Even if they have a fight, they’d soon make it up again.

The first scene is like a big long rugby tournament. First, four teams, each with about 25 people, race to a big tower made of wood about 20 - 25 feet tall, which is on the verge of breaking. Notice the people falling all over the place, like little ants. Some of the falls are real, it’s obvious, and members of other teams race over to pull the body away to make it look realistic. The whole thing falls over and a huge game of rugby ensues, everyone involved.

The shuttlecock game is great, even better than the first scene. It involves 2 teams constantly kicking around a little badmitton-like thing with a big tail, except they have to keep it in the air the WHOLE time, so it’s a constant juggle. Lots of cutting and editing were involved to make this happen but it worked out anyways. Also if you look carefully you can see familiar faces like Meng Hoi and Fung Hak On.

Everyone’s footwork seems to be great as well, Jackie looking especially good because he has the shuttlecock most of the time and gets to do little tricks with it all over the place, including one where he catches it on his foot, turns a 360, and shoots it into the goal in one cut and another where he does a sort of sideways bike kick and nails the goal from across the court.

Next is one of those classic scenes where the whole movie just kind of stops. Jackie is flying a kite with Mars and Tai Po and it flies onto the roof of Wang’s shop, where he’s sending off some artifacts it seems. Tons of great stunts, one where he pole vaults with a bamboo chute onto the roof, and just his moving around on the rooftop is great.

Then Jackie meets up with some of Wang’s goons in a temple and he has a humorous fight with them. Here you see the first actual fighting in the movie, and it’s quite a turn from his Lo Wei days, it’s the fast fighting you find later in Project A. Jackie mixes some humour and greater stunt work, like a jump over some candles standing over 4 and half feet high, as well as some fast footwork but still appears weak, which is accurate since his character really isn’t the fighting type. Makes for a very interesting story as well.

The finale is the best part of the movie, as it pits Jackie and Wang against each other. If you don’t know Wang, he’s an actual Hap Ki Do master, he’s able to do anything really, his punches just glisten with intelligence, his kicks, even when they’re low, are super fast and look brilliant, you can tell he knows what he’s doing, obviously much more than Jackie. At first Jackie and Mars fight off the goons for a moment, which has some nicer stunt work, but when Wang comes it’s down to business.

All the camerawork, editing, sounds, music, atmosphere, acting, is done so well to make Wang look, to put it simply, impossible. And he seems that way; it takes Jackie forever to beat him. Even Mars takes some shots at him and shows off his impressive stunt skills, and at the end does a very high forward flip fall onto the ground from a balcony. Jackie gets his turn and spends the rest of the scene doing the fighting, some of it is super fast, handwork is crazy with how fast it is at times thanks to Wang. He also does some of his best stunt work here, one of them is a fall from the balcony onto a wooden log, he flips backwards and spins a half twist and falls onto Mars, very well done, you can see some failed attempts in the outtakes.

More awesome fighting, Wang still dominating with lightning fast chain kicks that go faster than the eyes can handle, and they go up to the balcony again for more fast fighting where Wang shows some great handwork, and later the two are fighting for their lives on the ledge, Jackie determined to bring him down. And finally he does and they smash him with bags of rice. Gigantic finale that goes on for over 10 minutes, one of the best Jackie endings we’ve ever seen.