What's going on folks!! Welcome back to Hai! Karate!! The next film we're gonna take a look at is a beauty from the career of the legendary Simon Yuen, Sleeping Fist! This film comes to us out of the East Asia (H.K.) Film Company, a small outfit that was only around to make 7 pictures. The flick also stars Leung Kar-Yan, Wong Yat-Lung and Eddie Ko Hung.
Sleeping Fist starts out with a rambunctious opening credits scene beginning with Old Fox (Yuen) dozing off before bruising some would-be attackers along with the other two characters showing off their skills. We get to meet one of them as we exit the credits and see The Kid (Yat-Lung)basically steal some dumplings and as he's chased by the baker, steal some money in the process while dodging blows in a madcap fashion. Yes, he's called The Kid. No other name. More on that later. So we follow The Kid as he enters a tavern to eat. Soon enough though he gets accosted by a local thug. The thug and his goons look to wreak havoc but are confronted by the constable Chin Ta Khan(Kar-Yan). Ta Khan makes short work of the rogues but is hurt in the process, bleeding from an internal wound. Seems he's been on the hunt for their boss. The Kid helps him to a safe haven and they become fast friends, even helping out a woman(Au-Yeung Ling-Lung)from being kidnapped by pimps.
Of course, these fights lead them to conflict with the gangs' boss, who runs the Shang Wei school. The Kid's brashness and Ta Khan's mission of justice are irritating, so the boss enlists an Eagle Claw master(Ko Hung) to eliminate them. Just when you think the duo may get theirs in a run-down temple, up pops Old Fox who comes to their aid. He then agrees to take in Ta Khan and The kid as his pupils. The Kid isn't so convinced of the old master's skills until another brawl and so the trio train hard. They confront the Shang Wei school and find themselves locked in battle with the Eagle Claw master once again...
Okay, the nitty-gritty on Sleeping Fist is this: it's an entertaining film if you're just looking for knock-down action. The director, Teddy Yip Wing-Cho helped out a LOT in this regard; he had directed strong entries in the genre such as The Blade Spares None & The Eunuch years before in a bevy of some forgettable pictures. There's a fight scene about every minute and a half in this movie, which works with the slapstick elements in some cases. Now there are other flaws. For one, you mean to tell me every time these cats go to a tavern they a)find the bad guys just hanging out there and b)get into a fight? Mind you they travel from one town to the other. How does that happen? Also, bear in mind that Old Fox doesn't show up until THIRTY MINUTES INTO THE MOVIE. Now the fight scenes make up for that, as well as the pairing of The Kid and Ta Khan. Which is just as well because The Kid can grate on you after a bit. Don't get me wrong, Yat-Leung has charisma and an ability to bend his body like a human Slinky. But the English dub does make him a bit insufferable. Leung Kar-Yan is great here as a vigilant policeman who adapts the Sleeping Fist well within his skills. Even if he doesn't EVEN HAVE A WARRANT to arrest anyone. He kicks ass emphatically throughout the film even if we never peep how he got that wound earlier on. Simon Yuen as Old Fox aka another version of Beggar So does good here. There's a little bit more emotional shading in this than in later roles, which would only be for the next two years sadly. He does pull a nice bit using The Kid as his proxy in one fight. The rest is comedy peppered with 'GODDAMMIT' every couple of lines. The plot is bland and obviously the writer didn't really put too much into the script, i.e. the supposed romance between The Girl and Ta Khan. An even better example? 'The Girl' not having a NAME. Add some pissing jokes and music cues from the Airport soundtrack and you've got a flick. But I'd still recommend Sleeping Fist because it is a bit of fun once you get past all the flaws.
RATING: 3 OF 5 DRAGON PUNCHES