The Lizard (1972)

Directed by
quite a decent film
Reviewed by Simon on 2003-05-23

Everybody likes Robin Hood because he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Even rich people like Robin Hood, since he died a long time ago and is unlikely to steal anything from them.

Though perhaps not as globally popular as Robin Hood, The Lizard also steals from the rich (foreigners) and gives to the poor (Chinese), making him something of a local hero. One of his biggest fans is young Connie Chan, an idealistic kung fu-fighting young woman - but, like everyone else, she has no idea who The Lizard really is. He's rather disliked by some people, of course, including Lo Lieh - a corrupt but smart chief of police who uses his power and his connections with foreign diplomats to accumulate personal wealth and women.

The intrigue in Chor Yuen's 1972 film THE LIZARD is of a much more straightforward nature than that of any of his Ku Long adaptations, being a pretty simple game of Cat & Mouse between main hero Yueh Hua and main villain Lo Lieh. These two characters are fairly well matched in intellect and in kung fu, but are unfortunately surrounded by a bunch of idiots who tend to make a mess of things. The lack of intelligence displayed by most of the characters robs the film of much of the tension and excitement it could potentially have had.

THE LIZARD has obvious similarities to Yuen Wo-Ping's Iron Monkey, and features fight choreography from Wo Ping's brother Yuen Cheung-Yan. The choreography is very impressive... far beyong the skills of any of the performers though, and years ahead of the filming and editing techniques that could disguise this fact. Hence, whilst easy to admire on an intellectual level, it looks rather clumsy and awkward in practise. It's very dated when compared to IRON MONKEY, but that's only fair since it came over 20 years earlier and didn't feature anybody with the martial arts skill of Donnie Yen or Yu Rong-Guang. Connie Chan is great to watch anyway though.

The relatively modern setting means that we don't get the beautiful sets and costumes that characterise Chor Yuen's beautiful wu xia films - though some scenes do score highly in those respects and the film generally looks very good.

In general, THE LIZARD is definitely a lesser Chor Yuen work, lacking the beauty or poetry or the intricacy of films like Clans Of Intrigue. It's quite a decent film in its own right though, so Chor Yuen fans should definitely consider picking it up to complete the collection.