KING OF BEGGARS is a Hong Kong martial arts film that was released back in 1992 but is now available on a shiny new DVD. The movie stars Stephen Chow of SHAOLIN SOCCER and KUNG FU HUSTLE fame and I suspect that this is why a lot of the back catalogue is making it out of the back drawer and into the sunlight. So, will fans of the more recent Stephen Chow movies get a kick out of KING OF BEGGARS? Maybe. The movie is a period movie set in China. Chow plays the spoiled and illiterate son of a local governor. One day, at his local brothel he manages to simulataneously insult the Emperor and fall in love with a beautiful daughter of a beggar posing as a whore in order to avenge her father. (It's THAT kind of movie.) She is a woman of sense and rejects this ramshackle idiot until he can prove that he is a Kung Fu master. He then enters a tournament, the repurcussions of which involve him becoming a beggar, and fighting his way back to love and fortune. The movie is really well-made - money has been spent on costumes and they have taken the effort to get permission to shoot in China. It is also fairly funny but in a more straightforward slapstick way than the post-modern ironies of KUNG FU. Indeed, the whole film has a kind of old-school charm. It's like one of those old, badly dubbed, kung fu movies, where people have fights using ever more obscure varieties of kung fu: from the usual "animal" variants to the awesome Sleeping Fist style. All in all, this movie may not be a work of innovative genius in the manner of KUNG FU, but it is a bunch of fun if you are already a fan of old-school Kung Fu movies. Perfect for Friday night after the pub with a couple of beers and some take-out.
KUNG FU was released on DVD next week.