Kung Fu Killer (4 stars)

Kung Fu Killer

Stylish and fast-paced martial arts thriller from Teddy Chan, starring Donnie Yen

However hard they try, action stars like Jason Statham, Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dwayne Johnson can't hope to match the speed and grace of their Asian counterparts. Over the years Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and many more have helped popularise and elevate martial arts cinema. And for true aficionados, Hong Kong action films are the pinnacle of the genre.

Kung Fu Killer (aka Kung Fu Jungle) assumes the structure of a standard serial killer thriller, and punctuates it with intense fight scenes. Donnie Yen plays Hahou Mo, a kung fu master and martial arts instructor to the Hong Kong police, who is imprisoned after killing an opponent in battle. He's recruited by Detective Luk Yuen-Sum (Charlie Yeung) after the globe's best fighters start turning up beaten to death. The chase is on to track down deranged murderer Fung Yu-Sau (Baoqiang Wang), who's out to prove he's the world's most deadly martial arts warrior.

It's confidently helmed by director Teddy Chan, with impressive work from cinematographer Wing-Hang Wong, who brings a real sense of style to the action sequences. Some of the fight scenes are dazzling in their speed and complexity. Stand-out set-pieces include a grapple in a tattoo studio, a multi-weapon duel on a film set and the climatic confrontation between Hahou Mo and Fung Yu-Sau as they dodge traffic, fists and feet on a busy motorway.

Kung fu geeks will get a kick out of the plethora of cameos from some of the legends of Hong Kong action cinema. Kung Fu Killer might ultimately lack the grit and crunch that turned The Raid into a breakout hit, however its choreography is truly breathtaking, with each fight transformed into a beautifully orchestrated ballet of violence.

Selected release from Fri 20 Feb.

Kung Fu Killer | Official Trailer

Kung Fu Killer

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • China / Hong Kong
  • 1h 40min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Teddy Chan
  • Cast: Donnie Yen, Charlie Yeung, Baoqiang Wang
  • UK release: 20 February 2015

Hahu Mo (Yen) is a kung fu master imprisoned after killing an opponent in battle; he's recruited by the police to track down someone murdering the globe's best fighters. With dazzling fight scenes and a host of cameos from legends of Hong Kong action cinema, it's a treat for aficionados.