Starring: Sammo Hung, Lau Kar Wing, Leung Kar Yan, Mars, Lee Hoi San, Dean Shek, Karl Maka
Director: Lau Kar Wing
Action Directors: Lau Kar Wing, Sammo hung
Assistant Action Directors: Chung Fat, Yuen Biao, lam Ching Ying, Billy Chan
The Odd Couple as been regarded as one of the best traditional weapon movies of all time. Here we get to see two legends going sword to pole as both Sammo hung and Lau Kar Wing show why they are up there with the very best, weather it be using weapons on screen or just straight kung fu. We also get to see leung Kar yan in the role of the leading villain which he always plays very well.
Two aging kung fu masters get together once a year for a timed duel. One is master of the short sword, King of Sabres (Sammo Hung), and the other is King of Spears (Lau Kar Wing). Every year the fight ends in a draw, and as the masters are getting old, they decide the best course of action is to each take on a student to determine who is the better teacher. They agree to meet up again 10 years later, with their students and let the next generation carry on the duel.
A previously upright martial artist known as Old Yellow Dog, (Bryan Leung) kidnaps the students (also played by Lau and Hung) before their duel can begin. It transpires (in flashback) that the kung fu master was defeated in separate battles with the King of Sabres and the King of Spears, and was forced to retire from fighting. Now, after years of training in a new weapon (a long bladed staff) and with a new name, Laughing Bandit, he wants to lure the old masters out to exact his revenge. The old masters arrive, first taking on the Laughing Bandit’s four disciples and defeating them. However, this was a ploy to tire them out, and individually they are unable to defeat Laughing Bandit and his new techniques. The evil master suggests the old men both attack at once, but because of their pride and belief in their own superiority, they refuse. The students are released, while each master is fighting, and are instructed to escape. After some protestation they do, and the old masters are killed.
Fuelled by revenge, the students agree to join forces to defeat the evil master. Hung’s character (the new King of Spears) comes up with a plan us to utilise magnets that can pull the Laughing Bandit’s weapon from him. After luring him out into the open, they fight him unarmed, choosing to mimic their weapon styles with empty hands, but with the magnet they are able to disrupt his attacks, and after a gruelling fight they triumph.
After burying their masters, they decide to honour their memory by fulfilling their request to duel. However, as with their masters before them, the fight ends in a draw. Instead, they decide to resolve who is the greatest by playing a game, rather than fighting. Each must try to place his weapon into their masters burial mound, whilst simultaneously stopping their opponent from doing so. After another long competition, the film ends with the pair laughing at the absurdity of the rivalry and realising that as friends they will never be able to determine who is the best.
This is one weapons movie you do not want to miss, we have a great cast, superb action throughout and top notch choreography, which we come to expect from Sammo hung and Lau Kar Wing. Hung plays the King of Sabres and his student is played by Lau, and Lau plays the King of Spears and his student is played by Hung.
In the later part of the film, all ‘four’ characters appear in scenes together. Both students become proficient in their weapons, allowing the actors, in their opposing roles, to demonstrate their skills with both weapons. This aspect could prove a challenge for the editor to cut between the two major stars switching between old and young, depending the requirement of the scenes. Yuen Biao was also a assistant to the director in terms of action and was also a double on the movie. The main locations for the movie are mainly the mountain tops, which we got to see quiet a lot from movies during that time and the same mountain location was used later for Jackie Chan’s The Young Master.
It is a great watch, the plot might not be the greatest, but who cares when the action is so damn good.