Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (1978)

Synopsis:  Jackie plays Chien Fu, a hapless young orphan who lives at a martial arts school, where he is abused by the cruel instructor, and used as sort of a human practice dummy by the students. One day he helps and then befriends an old beggar, played by Simon Woo-Ping, (who in real life was one of Jackie’s instructors at the Peking Opera school) and in return the old man agrees to teach Chien Foo his Snake Fist style of Kung Fu. But, alas, the head of the rival Eagle Claw clan wishes to destroy the old man, who is the last of the Snake Fist clan, and before all is over, Chien Foo, inspired by his pet cat, invents the entirely new Cat’s Claw style, and is able to defeat the Eagle Claw dude. 

Debbie's Review:  This is the movie that propelled Jackie to stardom in Asia. It was filmed while he was still under contract to Lo Wei, the director who had “discovered” Bruce Lee, and was now trying to mold Jackie into the second Bruce. Wearied of his repeated failures at the box-office, Lo had loaned Jackie out to Seasonal films, and here for the first time, director Yuen Woo-Ping (of Matrix and Crouching Tiger fame) gave Jackie the freedom to create his own comic style. This is a fun movie, full of great training sequences and exciting fights. Allowed creative freedom, Jackie was at last able to create an engaging, sympathetic character totally unlike the wooden stereotypes he had been forced by Lo Wei to play in imitation of Lee. The instant he was able to display his own natural charm, Jackie became a huge star, and it’s easy to see why in this film. 

The first fight involves Chien Fu being used by the instructor to demonstrate punches to the students. Chien Fu, ignorant of Kung Fu, is helpless against them, so it’s really not much of a fight. The second fight scene, however, is the first to demonstrate Jackie’s great comic choreography. When he rushes up to help the old beggar against a rival school, the old guy uses Jackie’s body as a weapon, pushing and pulling him into various comical fighting positions. The next major fight in the middle of the film has Chien Fu’s head master fighting the master of a rival school, and Chien Fu, now proficient at Kung Fu, must step in to save his si-fu. A little more serious, but still with some clever comic elements. The final fight scene is a classic extended fight scene, not really much comedy, but with the additional treat of seeing Jackie get a tooth knocked out…for real! Although Jackie began in this film to use humorous elements, the rhythm and movements of the fights in Snake in Eagle’s Shadow are definitely still in the classic Kung Fu style of his other early films. I think what really set this film apart from his Lo Wei films, besides the introduction of comedy, was the naturalness of his acting, and his ability to create a likeable, sympathetic character when allowed to let his own personality shine through.

Score: 8/10

Reader Reviews

Darrell's Review: With hindsight I came to this movie with the wrong expectations, having never seen a Jackie movie from the 1970s. However, the film is growing on me. The HKL DVD isn't up to their usual standard. Since the film is set in rural China, don't expect fighting with props (apart from a stick), guns, stunts off buildings, special effects or car chases.

Chan Fan1986's Review: Whoever said that this movie is better than Drunken Master 1 is full of crap. Although this is a really good movie, it doesn't compare to the original Drunken Master, which has one of the best fights of any movie ever. The final fight in this movie is far to short compared to Jackie's 'Come Drink With Me' fight in DM1. My hats off, although, to this being the original, with DM1 sort of being an imitation. But DM1 is still better.

Score: 8.5/10

Chan-o-rama 's Review: I found this movie on dvd at a cheap store for about $4. I had heard good reviews about it so i was curious. I was totally impressed. The story is fresh and the fight scenes are magnificent. If you love chan, you'll love this one.

Score: 9.5/10

Emos Tayong's Review: This was the first Jackie Chan's film I saw when I was a lil' boy. I became a jackie chan's biggest fan from that day till this present day and I think the movie was heavy. Jackie was young and very energetic. from the movie, you could tell that jackie was gonna be the future stunts king. I loved the traditional kungfu but was not a knock out. Jackie is the best person on earth. I love him to death.

Score: 9.5/10

Savas's Review:It is difficult to find this kind of kung fu movie , they dont make èm at this caliber anymore,the best jackie chan movie .

Score: 10/10

Steven Richardson's Review: Hella Hella Hella dope. Word. This is da flyest picture you is ever gonna see in a long time. The laugh attacks will hurt your body with gusto. Hwang Jang Lee is one my favourite martial artists alongside jackie. This film is better than drunken Master, it's not as crude. Altogether this film posesses the certain niceness that we love and know jackie has, the fight scenes are excellent and the story is excellent. Get it on DVD if you can- I reccomend the HKL version. Straight up word.

Score: 10/10

Jonas's Review:  One of the best kung fu movies that i have seen. Me and my friends have seen this several and several times when we was kids.

Score: 10/10

Tiger's Review: I think that this is one of the best Jackie Chan movies because of the good sense of humour and the kung fu stile. At that time it was something new and never seen before.Whit the strange elements that Jackie used he won the peoples attention and made avery good movie. To think and to make something that has never been done is exellent, Jackie has proved with this and many other movies, that he is very capable to do such things.

Score: 9.5/10

The Drunken Master's Review: Here's the movie that brought Jackie Chan to the attention of the audience.  Snake in the Eagle's Shadow is classical kung fu mixed with comedy (unlike Drunken Master, the comedy is not vulgar).  The entire cast plays their roles unforgettably.  This is a really great movie, one no martial art fan can miss.

Score: 8/10

Ninja's Review: The Best Old School Kung Fu Film of All Time! Seen it so many times that I've lost count! Yuen Siu Tin is pure magic!

"The Eagle Claws have hired me... I'm to destroy the Snake Fist!"

Chanspirit's Review: What can I say, This is my all time favorite movie of Jackie's! I love all (well almost all) of his movies, but there is something very touching about this one that makes it stand out for me. I know not a long review and didn't even talk about tech. stuff. Just plain out love this film.

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