Scorpion King (1992)

Scorpion King

Scorpion King

Sammo Hung has produced a movie here (also known as Operation Scorpio) that has been hailed as a classic! We venture into a territory that is not only unusual, but also pretty refreshing and noteworthy!

Cast

Chin Kar-Lok plays the dreamer Yuk-su, new comer Won Jin plays the scorpion king, Sonny. Lau Kar Leung plays the restaurant owner, Master Yat. Lawrence Lau plays Fatty Hsing and Frankie Chin plays Jean Pol.

Plot

Yuk-Su is a dreamer. All day throughout class, he doodles comic artwork. This artwork is not for a life in the comic world, rather the life of a hero that he so wishes to be. Getting told off by the teacher and bullied by the jocks of the school, he really needs to wake up. It is then that chance comes knocking on his door and presents an opportunity that he would otherwise miss!

After accidently coming across the path of a young lady (Siu-Yu), he follows her to her house, where he has an eye-popping encounter with the scorpion king! Coming to the young lady’s aid after she is sold-off by the scorpion king’s pimp father, Yuk-Su is caught by the local corrupt police and to the horror of his father and his headmaster who are also present, gets expelled from school! To make matters worse, the head policeman orders his men to beat Yuk-Su and his father, for helping the young maid to escape. Now they are both on the run. Yuk-Su and his father take refuge in a local gymnasium. This however, is no ordinary gymnasium. Everyone here is built like various versions of the Incredible Hulk!

Taking pity on their plight, the main gym owner (Jean Pol), stops anyone from gaining access to his home, in an astonishing feat of strength – think about the world’s strongest man! Taking his injured father to Uncle Lofty’s house while Siu-Yu emerges from the local river, the trio only have a brief respite before being pursued once again by Sui-Yu’s persecutors. It seems the scorpion king’s father wants his stock back. Fleeing for their lives, Uncle Lofty takes them all to his friend’s (Master Yat’s) house. The next day, instead of paying his dues and helping around Master Yat’s restaurant, Yuk-Su shirks all his responsibilities and decides to pay Jean Pol a visit. When he arrives he begs Jean Pol to take him in as a student, despite his lack of finances. Sensing something about this boy, Jean Pol agrees and starts Yuk-Su in his strength training. Later on as he gets home, Yuk-Su is found-out and goes to bed without any dinner. The next day he has to make-up for his absence and help Master Yat in the kitchen preparing food. Failing, attempt after attempt, Yuk-Su is more concerned with training than cooking. However, he finally perseveres and is put to the test in a cooking competition against Master Yat. Not quite meeting the standard, Master Yat thinks Yuk-Su is not far off and leaves him in control of his restaurant, while he goes on a trip to get a new recipe. Yuk-Su starts to cut corners to go back to training with Jean Pol and leaves Siu-Yu to handle the restaurant by herself! Making quite an impression at Jean Pol’s school and learning some new techniques, it seems Yuk-Su is on the road to glory…however back at Master Yat’s restaurant all is not so rosy…

Action

The first main fight occurs between Sonny (the scorpion king) and one of his father’s rivals. Here we see breathtaking move after move! Acrobatics, gymnastics, taekwondo and his unique scorpion technique are shown here. Won Jin is truly amazing and brings something dazzling to Hong Kong action cinema!

The next action scene is where Sonny’s father enrages a local, who is trying to buy back his sister’s freedom. This leads to a tight and confined altercation in which Sonny unleashes a running-jumping triple kick, similar to legendary kicker, Hwang Jang Lee, in movies like Hells Windstaff! Intercepting attacks with leg traps and kicks in a flash will leave you awe-inspired of Won Jin!

Next we have Sonny versus Jean Pol! Now this is a great example that size and strength don’t always matter and don’t guarantee victory either. Sonny gets pounded comprehensively by Jean Pol’s strength. This doesn’t last as Sonny is hugely resourceful and has quite a few tricks up his sleeve, mainly offering speed and flexibility to counter.

The final fight starts with Master Yat in full rage mode, accompanied by Yuk-Su. Here Master Yat expertly displays how to use the long staff, then transferring to no hands! Master Yat goes through everyone like a hot knife through butter! Just as everything is looking up, one of the henchmen arrive with the three section nunchuks! Back and forth they go, until Master Yat seizes the opportunity and grabs the weapon to demonstrate how it’s really done -fantastic technique, skill and control on show here!

Sonny and Master Yat finally go head-to-head. This is not only a tremendous showcase in action cinema, but also a contrast between two very different styles. Personally though, I think Won Jin steals the show and the whole movie! When Master Yat is injured and is no longer able to continue, Yuk-Su enters for his battle. Yuk-Su is clearly outclassed by Sonny, but help is at hand with something he prepared earlier. Yuk-Su utilises his special recipe on Sonny consisting of an eye-brow raising formula! This is a very novel way to deal with the scorpion king, however Yuk-Su prevails and finally realises the hero he’s always wished to be. Slick ending to a spellbinding movie, mainly I feel, due to Won Jin’s performance!

Summary

This movie is highly entertaining! From start to finish, you cannot help but be captivated. Fantastic and innovative fight scenes, will leave you gob-smacked at how the actors pulled this off, especially Won Jin who I believe is the true star here, his athletic prowess is amazing, not to mention inspiring…! It’s a pity that with all this wonderful action, along with its comic-book style narrative, it just leaves you wanting more… This picture has been described as a classic, I concur wholeheartedly!

Trivia

  • Did you know that Chin Kar-Lok was a Jackie Chan double?
  • Won Jin moved to Hong Kong and stayed there from the success of this movie for 5 years!
  • The scene where Sonny gets kicked through a glass window, was done by a stuntman who injured his kidney!

Film Rating: 9/10

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Amardeep Sidhu is a (very!) long time martial arts movie fan. On watching "Enter The Dragon", at five years old, became fascinated with Bruce Lee and by eight was hooked on the main man (Jackie) CHAN's movies! He has studied Taekwondo as his primary base, as well as mixed shaolin kung-fu, southern praying mantis, wing chun and capoeira. He is a keen movie watcher with a serious appreciation for fight choreography!

1 Comment
  1. Reply
    Wing-Ho Lin February 6, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    As rightly stated, the physicality of Won Jon is undisputed. ‘Scorpion King’ is a rare film that successfully merges comic/manga style with Hong Kong action. The penultimate fight between the traditional ‘southern fist’ and ‘northern leg’ is a fantastic example of this. Modern ‘comic book’ films should take note when constructing fight sequences of similar ilk.

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