In Taiwan where the Japanese are in charge, young thief Ah Loong (Jackie Chan) is walking through the streets with his uncle when Ah Loong accidentally bumps into a couple of Japanese. As he hates the self-styled rulers of the island country, he challenges them to a fight, taking advantage of the fact that the two men don't understand his language, but as he doesn't know kung fu, the troublemaker is beaten soundly and only saved from being killed by a passing stranger, who happens to run a martial arts school. Will anything persuade Ah Loong to study self defence and make something of his life?
After the death of Bruce Lee, many up and coming Hong Kong actors jostled to fill his shoes, and Jackie Chan was one of those promising stars. He turned out to be a superstar across the world much as Lee had been, although it wasn't really until the nineteen-eighties that he settled on the style that would make him recognised across the world. Before then, there were a lot of films like New Fist of Fury, taking its title from a Lee film and its setting as well, but like the larger part of the Bruce imitations around the time, it was a lesser effort even if Chan showed skill.
This film was also a Lo Wei production, one of many Chan made in the seventies, and a much maligned sequence of films they are, especially by the hardcore fans who don't think the producer-director (and writer here, too, along with Lei Pan) showcased Jackie's talents to their best advantage. There's certainly a lot of plot here for what is basically an anti-Japanese tale, where the invaders are out and out bad guys making life hard for the Chinese and Taiwanese good guys. Our hero steals a set of nunchaku sticks from one of the good guys, and it's this that brings him into contact with the martial arts school who prove themselves better than the Japanese one, much to their chagrin.
So essentially it's the tried and tested school vs school story, only here the protagonist is reluctant to take part, indeed it's over halfway through the film before he agrees to learn kung fu, which means the traditional scenes of the lead fighter beating up hordes of attackers are swapped for him being trounced by the attackers instead. That not really being what we wanted to see, it's made up for by the last act being about twenty minutes of solid combat between Chinese and Japanese. This being a Hong Kong film, the identity of the victors won't come as much of a surprise, but what happens at the end might. Presumably it was meant to leave audiences feeling self-righteously angry, but it's bizarre to see a Jackie Chan film have that happening to him.
Aka: Xin Jing Wu Men
[Hong Kong Legends Region 2 DVD has an alternative beginning and trailers as extras.]