The Young Master (1980)

Synopsis:  Jackie plays yet another orphan who has been taken in at a Kung-Fu school, along with his older brother, Tiger. Tiger accepts a bribe from a rival school to perform the annual New Year’s Lion Dance competition against his own school, and is driven away by his Master when his betrayal is discovered. From there, he embarks upon a life of crime, and when little brother Ah Lung (Jackie) leaves to find him, he is mistaken for big brother Tiger and arrested. In the end, Ah Lung tries to clear Tiger’s name by bringing the real criminal mastermind to justice. 

Debbie's Review:  This movie definitely belongs in my top 5 list (which consists of at least 8 titles). This was the first movie Jackie made for Golden Harvest films, so it has a bigger budget, and Jackie had more control than in any of his previous movies; and it really shows. Young Master is full of comedy and great martial arts and Jackie’s unique style. It starts off with the traditional Lion Dance between the two rival martial arts schools, with Ah Lung (Jackie) carrying the dragon’s head for his school, and Tiger carrying the head for the other. The story gripped me right away: once Ah Lung realizes Big Brother is the other dragon head he hasn’t the heart to win, which results in his being punished for his brother’s treachery. This scene establishes the devotion Ah Lung feels for his brother, and made me really care about the character.

This is closely followed by the White Fan fight, where Ah Lung uses a beautiful fan to bedazzle his opponent. This fight alone took hundreds of takes to get just right, earning Jackie the reputation not only for being a perfectionist, but a big spender. Thank goodness Raymond Chow and Leonard Ho of Golden Harvest films continued to give Jackie free reign in spite of this, because this movie is a masterpiece. The White Fan fight from Young Master is my favorite of all Jackie’s fights, and for me surpasses any of his bone-breaking stunts with its gorgeous, graceful choreography.

Next comes a group fight when Ah Lung is mistaken for Big Brother, and the local deputies try to arrest him. Great comedy, great choreography…really clever use of the surroundings, taking place inside a small Buddhist temple. This runs almost immediately into a fight with Opera Brother Yuen Biao, who plays the local Sheriff’s disrespectful, lazy son, and then a fight with the Sheriff himself. The comedy here is wonderful: a great blend of funny dialogue, mistaken identities and silly slapstick   Next is an over-the-top slapstick fight with a couple of the thieves that Tiger has fallen in with, and finally, the big battle with Mr. Head Bad Guy himself. 

This end fight runs for what seems like 15 minutes, and is unbelievable. Jackie’s opponent, played by Wang In Sik, is one of the great kickers of all time and he’s simply a joy to watch, even for a non-martial artist like me. This is the forerunner of the great final battle in Drunken Master 2, but instead of alcohol, Jackie imbibes 20 year-old tobacco-pipe juice, which renders him immune to pain (as well as rational thought). I just don’t have enough words to describe how much I love this film!

Score: 10/10

Reader Reviews

Hashim (aka the young master)'s Review:  I mus' say this film is truly a jackie chan classic, having seen The Drunken Master and Snake in Eagles Shadow, this is by far the best of all three action wise. Jackie is on top form and precision timing and perfection in all the fight scenes is formiddable. Only thing that lacks is the script, it's not as good as snake in eagles shadow and drunken master. But this film is certainly the same level as Bruce's Way of the Dragon, so no wonder jackie is ah lung in this film. If you like clean cut action like Way of the Dragon, this is a must see. Don't let this film by pass you, cuz this classic forever remains one of the best martial arts films ever.

Score: 10/10

Chan-o-rama's Review: In my view, Young Master is one of JC's finest movies. It goes back to the roots of Chinese cinema. The dragon dance at the beginning best describes it. This movie was so original. Not just your average hand to hand combat, but new forms. (the bench fight, the swords, the dress) The final fight with Whang Inn Sik is fantastic. Pick this one up for sure.

Score: 10/10

Anonymous Review:  The fight scenes are decent but not many of them. And the script is not good. Trivia 1. Yuen Biao doubled for Jackie Chan in akrobatiks and stunts. 2. When Jackie started filmming with Wang-in sikh Jackie was chocked how fast Wang-in Sikh kicked. 3. In the Amerikan version of the movie the fight with Yuen Biao and Jackie Chan is not as long as in the original Chinese version.

Score: 3/10

Glen M's Review: Amazing, tied for my favourite Jackie Chan ever! The perfect mix of action, comedy, and drama! What I find so incredible however is how good it is compared to Jackie's films of's insane how beautiful this movie is; it flows quite nicely.

Score: 10/10 fo sho!

Brendan's Review: This is a great early effort from Jackie. The fight sequences are well choreographed and are integrated well into the story,and the comedy is quite well-placed and generally entertaining. The final fight scene is highly entertaining, it is long, but never feels drwan out. Good use of props in many of the fights as well, just basic ones like a fan or table,but they add so much to those scenes. Jackie's character is one of his best, and the work between him and his on-screen brother is generally quite good. Overall, a top-notch Jackie Chan film, ranking up there with his very best work,I say.

Score: 8.5/10

THENEXTJACKIECHAN's Review: This Movie I Have been waiting to see for a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOng time (im waiting a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time to see Drunken Master 1)and i finally found it.I got home Put it in the video machine and watched.I said WHAT THE F*^K because some of the scenes were missing on the tape that ive cut the fan fight and the final fight out.when Jackie throws the fan 360 they cut that the final fight when Jackie drinks the fuel thingy and does a flip up when he gets up they cut it out.BUT the even they took the good parts out the movie was GREAT.i love this film and you can see how the bad guy (final boss) is when you are a martial artist like me. overall the top 4 jackie chan movie.

Score: 9/10

Homer J's Review: Well, Debbie pretty much sums up everything about this seminal classic, which along with Drunken Master represents, in my opinion, his best examples of the early style of kung fu films. But with wonderful sprinkles of Jackie liberally applied.

What particularly grabs me about this film is that is that it shows Jackie's ethos of performing fight shots in one-take, rather than chop and edit around them, much as is the case these days.

Good examples are the aforementioned fan scene and my personal favourite, the sword fight in the church. The skill required is amazing, although Jackie modestly says its it is patience that is needed, whatever it is this man possesses it in abundance and frankly he appears sometimes to be not of this world.

The fact that this film also has Jackie fighting Yuen Biao just puts extra layers of icing on an already super sweet cake. The original, unedited 20 min fight scene at the end is also breathtaking, and exhausting to watch. Makes you appreciate even more the amount of effort it obviously took to film.

This was my first period Jackie film, so I'm probably a little biased, but who cares?? This film deserves high marks for the effort alone, and so it is with considerably less effort that I award this a

Score: 9/10

Cristopher's Review: This film come 3 on my jc list. The end fight is the best fight a ever seen i a JC film. I only say, this film is worth watching.

Score: 10/10

Juan Contreras' Review: In my opinion this is THE ULTIMATE JACKIE CHAN MOVIE. It was the first Jackie Chan movie I saw. It has some of the greatest action scenes. Jackie goes over the top in this movie as he fights with fans, poles, chairs, swords, and a skirt. And you have to see the final fight is FANTASTIC. Even if you are not a Jackie Chan fan you will enjoy it, I GUARANTEE IT.

Score: 11/10

Joe's Review: First great Jackie movie. Hil-ar-i-ous. Awesome end fight, and some nice group fights, making this Jackie's best period film.

Score: 7/10

Mike's Review: This movie was excellent, Truly a classic. Jackie's choreography was wonderful. He showed everyone else that Jackie Chan could do a lion dance scene, and do it very well. The comedy was great. Plus I always enjoy when his opera school brothers show up, so Yuen Biao being in the movie added two points to the score. I loved the final fight. The bad guy was an incredible kicker. You could really see the contrast in the fight with the big bad boss and the rest of the fights, this was needed, and Jackie put it in, because why would the head boss be as easy a fight for Jackie as everyone else in the movie was? I loved this movie. Jackie also showed how to work that white fan in a fight like a true "Young Master".

Score: 10/10

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