On the subject of martial arts movies,all played out Chuck Norris internet jokes aside,it's common knowledge that Bruce Lee introduced martial arts-based action films to a global market in the early seventies,and the formula remained unchanged until one of Bruce's teenage stuntmen named Chan Kong-sang,who would be known as Jackie Chan,revolutionized it in 1978 with the release of this movie.When did you first become aware of Jackie Chan?The vast majority of American readers might cite his buddy cop movie,Rush Hour(1998),or Rumble in the Bronx(1995),as their first exposure.Some more adultish(haha) readers might remember his cameo in Cannonball Run and its sequel,or the hundred-some ought times HBO played his first attempt at winning American audiences,The Battle Creek Brawl aka/The Big Brawl(1980),back in the cable box days(he'd try again in five years with a buddy cop movie co-starring Danny Aiello,The Protector,I was one of six people in the theater for that one).I can remember special trips down to Chinatown,Happy Sound Audio/Video on Lafayette Street in the early eighties with my old man,just to score new Chan-man vhs tapes as an early proponent of Chang Chuan gung fu myself at the time.That probably came off cockier than Bruce Lee tearing his shirt off and rubbing his chest before a Hong Kong street challenge,but it is what it is. Chan had been toiling away in mostly inferior Lo Wei productions since the director first spotted him in John Woo's Hand of Death in 1976,but when Shaw Brothers superstar Fu Sheng was unable to play the lead in Yuen Woo-ping's Eagle Shadow vehicle for Seasonal Films,Chan,who was on two picture loan to the company,stepped in,and the rest,as they say,was history.He then starred in Yuen's Drunk Monkey in a Tiger's Eye/Drunken Master(1979),and singlehandedly created the comedic kung fu subgenre(all respect due to Liu Chia Liang,of course),spurring on nearly as many imitators as Bruce Lee had,only Chan was far from dead!By the time he'd returned to Wei,he was already a box-office smash in Hong Kong,and once he'd set off to make his own movies for Golden Harvest,he would redefine the entire genre forever with Project A/Pirate Patrol(1982).At the time of this writing,there's very little the Chan-man hasn't achieved,an accomplished actor/choreographer/filmmaker/comedian/ director/producer/martial artist/screenwriter/entrepreneur,and even singer,ferchrissakes.The advent of wire fu may have taken most of the piss out of fight scenes in movies today(sorry,Jet Li),but tonight's entry is a prime example of the way they used to do it,when Chan really did it,as evidenced by the front teeth he had kicked out in the final battle with celebrated leg fighter,Wong Cheng Li,here.Recommended. Beggar So(Simon Yuen)uses Chien Fu(Chan)as a marionette towards martial victory. Chien Fu(Jackie Chan)is an orphan who's adopted by a local kung fu school,that utilizes the somewhat goofy bumpkin as a janitor,and more embarrassingly,as the school punching bag for students to demonstrate their techniques against with no resistance.Chien shows kindness to a beggar(Yuen Siu Tien) by offering him a place to stay and a meal,unaware that the old man is really Pai Chang-tien,the last living proponent of snake style kung fu,and thus,hunted by the Eagle Claw clan which is headed by ruthless bastard,Sheng Kuan(Wong Cheng Li),who's vowed to kill every last one of his Snake rivals.Disgusted by the manner in which Chien is degraded by the school,Beggar So teaches the man the footwork concepts of snake style,so that he will be able to defend himself,and since none of the sifu/teachers of the school will agree to teach him anything.The old man leaves Chien's company to stay one step ahead of the relentless Eagle Claws,but after more humiliation,Chien hunts the beggar down and pleads with him to teach him more kung fu,to which he agrees,so long as Chien does not refer to him as "Sifu",as the two are friends,but in reality,to further hide the beggar's secret identity from his pursuers.Cue:lengthy training sequence,complete with snake forms. There's something about the symbolism here that makes me a little uncomfortable-in-the-kung-fu-pants. Chien proves to be more than adept in defending himself from the bullying teachers with his newly acquired martial knowledge,and when the school is challenged by the Mantis school,he steps up and serves the Mantis master a lesson in humility.Unfortunately,a passing onlooker who just happens to be Sheng Kuan sees Chien displaying snake style in his fight,and tails him afterwards.He introduces himself to Chien as one of his master's colleagues,spurring the young man to test the stranger's kung fu,which proves much too powerful for Chien's snake.Sheng explains that being a more advanced snake practitioner allowed him to counter all of Chien's attacks so easily,which the naive young beginner naturally believes.While pondering his meeting,Chien watches his pet cat throttle an invading cobra,and develops a custom kung fu style around the feline's movements.Sheng inquires about Beggar So's whereabouts,and Chien unwittingly leads the cold-blooded killer right to the old man,leading to a knock 'em down,drag 'em out finale,where Chien vanquishes all of Sheng's cronies,then squares off against the Eagle Claw master himself,finally snuffing his candle after a dazzling final battle by combining So's snake style with his own invention.So asks Chien what he's named the new technique,but when he replies "Cat's claw",the beggar suggests that he name it "Snake in Eagle's Shadow" instead. "Why I oughta...""Oh,wise guy!Nyuk!Nyuk!Nyuk!" Compared with some of Chan's later work,tonight's review might seem a bit subdued or even standard,but in chronological perspective,nothing could be further from the truth.Yuen and Chan's collaboration the following year,Drunken Master/Drunk Monkey in a Tiger's Eye,is one of the five best pure martial arts movies ever made,surpassed by the sequel fifteen years later,Drunken Master II/Old Wine in a New Bottle,helmed by Liu Chia Liang,which is arguably the best pure kung fu movie ever made.At least,in my opinion anyway,for whatever that's worth.Yuen cast his own father Yuen Siu Tien as Beggar So at the suggestion of producer Ng See Yuen,cementing a role he would reprise many times over before his death.I recently saw Wong Cheng Li in a modern chop socky flick taking a soggy beating on a beach at the hands of Dragon Lee(of all people),so it's safe to say he's still out there plugging away.We'll continue with this martial vein next time,so stay tuned.As for Eagle's Shadow,the first step towards an entire new method of kung fu movie making,it merits a solid three wops on the ratings scale.Hunt it down and see for yourselves. Wires?Wong Cheng Li don't need no stinking wires!