Director: Sammo Hung
Starring: Sammo Hung, Yuen Shun Yee, Wang Lung Wei, Chung Fat, Lee Hoi San
I've always said that I can enjoy or at least bare with a bad Hong Kong movie as long as the action is good. Sammo Hung has done several that fit into this category (the Lucky Stars films immediately come to mind), but never has there been a more extreme example of this than the awkward and downright dull Two Toothless Tigers... which just happens to contain some of the finest fight footage ever filmed.
The plot of this surprisingly disinteresting caper centers around restaurant owner, Pao (Sammo) and his dimwitted nephew, Ah Chin (Yuen Shun Yee).Chin it seems, is not in tune with the ways of the world and through his naivete (to put it politely) continuously gets himself in trouble with the local thugs. Attempting to impress a gang with his cooking talents, he instead unwittingly insults one of the lower ranks. Trying to make peace, Chin is tricked into trashing an antiques shop and finds himself owing much financial compensation and facing jail time as a result. As a solution to this little problem, he gets himself involved with a scheme to procure a treasure map from a vicious criminal...
While the basic plot is a flimsy shaggy dog-type deal, it is certainly workable enough to create some magic considering the amount of talent involved. That the end result is as uninspiring as it is, is surprising to say the least. I've watched this film twice all the way through (the second time in preparation for this review) and I'll be damned if I can remember some of the tired shenanigans that go on in the first half. This is flat filmmmaking, plain and simple. Luckily, the picture is somewhat rescued (by my account, anyway) by several insanely great martial arts bouts. After being lulled to a near comatose state throughout the first fifty-odd minutes, these fights are a truly jolting shot of adrenaline. I can't emphasize enough how amzing these bouts are, even by Sammo's normally sky high standards. The highlight here may be the prelim bout between bad guys Wang Lung Wei and Chung Fat. This brief, but explosive bout ranks as one of the finest and most breathtaking ever (yes EVER) and the others rank close behind. To say it's a shame that there weren't a few more of these populating the pic would be a tremendous understatment.
Ultimately, Two Toothless Tigers tried very hard to get me to dislike it, but the mind blowing battles that populate it's second half prevented me from doing so... if only just barely.