The Victim (1980)

Directed by
Reviewed by Simon on 2002-03-22

Basic plot: Sammo is a bit of a kung fu master, but he pledges that if he can find somebody who can beat him he will take them as his master. He finds such a person in Leung Kar-Yan, and declares himself student. Leung Kar-Yan is not interested, and fights him off, but Sammo is persistent. He gets drawn into LKY's feud with his evil brother, and eventually earns his friendship.

This is all somewhat secondary to the almost non-stop kung-fu though. There are fight scenes every few minutes, and they are all good. THE VICTIM shows Sammo Hung at the peak of his skills as a martial artist, choreographer and director. He puts virtually everybody else working in Hong Kong at the time to shame. Quite possibly the finest kung fu movie ever made.

For a movie that is almost 90% fight scenes, the characters are surprisingly well developed and the plot both involved and interesting. The old school standards of revenge and the reluctant master/immature student are the framework, but built upon it is a structure of surprising depth and richness.

The characters do have a tendency to express themselves by fighting, it must be said. From start to finish there's barely 3 consecutive minutes where a fight isn't going on. The choreography and filming throughout is nothing short of mindblowing. The speed, intricacy, detail and invention is kept at an incredible high throughout. Just draw-dropping to watch! Quite brutal in places too.

Absolutely recommended, but if you're going to pick it up on DVD be sure to get the UK disc (widescreen/subtitled) and NOT the US Martial Arts Theatre disc! I was fortunate enough to see it on the big screen tonight, and have to say that's where it truly belongs!