When Australian police bust a Chinese drug dealer at Ayers Rock, super-tough Hong Kong cop Fang Sing-Ling (Jimmy Wang Yu) heads Down Under to arrange his extradition. Fang’s strong-arm tactics convince the dope smuggler to turn stoolie, but come trial day, an assassin guns the crook down on the steps outside court. All clues point to ruthless business tycoon Wilton (George Lazenby), a man so evil he shoots apples off his girlfriend’s head and beats minions to a bloody pulp. Fang sets out to take him down, while Wilton sets a host of gun-toting, kung fu fighting killers to settle his hash. But “the man from Hong Kong” won’t go out without a fight.
Movies like The Man from Hong Kong and Shaft (1971) are driven by virility. They’re all about proving non-Caucasian action stars can kick ass and bang hot chicks as well as any James Bond. To underline the point, this Hong Kong-Australian co-production pits Wang Yu (dubbed with a distractingly deep, macho voice) against onetime 007 George Lazenby, then in the midst of a three-film deal with Golden Harvest. Writer-director Brian Trenchard-Smith’s professed intention was to mount a satirical assault on European cultural imperialism, with a Chinese Dirty Harry who tears Sidney apart and makes love to Australian girls.
Things kick off with an outstanding helicopter vs. car chase and a kung fu fight atop Ayers Rock, featuring a young Sammo Hung. It’s capped by an exploding car with a flying door that nearly injured the camera crew. Thereafter Noel Quinlan contributes a seriously funky soundtrack, with the catchy main theme “Sky High” by rock group Jigsaw, as foxy hang-glider Caroline Thorne (Ros Spiers) literally drops out of the sky into Fong’s police academy. Mere minutes later, they’re sweat drenched, going at it hammer and tongs between the sheets. “Do you often take white girls to bed?” “Only on Tuesdays and Thursdays!” Ah, the Seventies…
Future Prisoner Cell Block H actress Ros Spiers is just one of several Aussie exploitation regulars scattered throughout this movie, including Bill Hunter, Hugh Keays-Byrne (later the villain in Mad Max (1979)), Frank Thring, and ace stuntman Grant Page as an assassin. Aussie cops Taylor (Roger Ward) and Gross (Hugh Keays-Byrne) seemingly exist just to marvel at Jimmy as he scales walls with his bare hands, outruns motorcycles and makes sweet love to sexy flower child Angelica (lovely Rebecca Gilling, another familiar, uh, face). Unlike the misogynist Shaft, Fang Sing-Ling shows a more tender side as illustrated in a romantic montage scored with a treacly love ballad. Not so the real Jimmy, whom allegedly caught flies and ate them (?!) before love scenes, never pulled his punches on stuntmen and bullied his way to become co-director.
These reputedly antisocial antics aside, both he and Trenchard-Smith are at the top of their game. Jimmy’s rough and ready fighting style is less graceful than Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, but suits the gritty milieu. It’s blood, sweat and tears, especially during his vicious bout with Grant Page in a crowded restaurant and the de-rigueur one-man-against-seven dojo fight. Lookout for future Hong Kong stars like Yuen Biao, Lam Ching-Ying and Corey Yuen Kwai being splattered around the shop. George Lazenby also makes a surprisingly credible, downright lethal looking screen fighter, thanks in no small part to choreography by Sammo Hung. He also has a fabulous futuristic bachelor pad, complete with hi-tech armoury.
Although the script has plenty of cheesy, Seventies dialogue (“I never met a Chinese yet that didn’t have a yellow streak”, sneers the dastardly Wilton) and essentially strings a host of stunts together, Brian Trenchard-Smith orchestrates a cracking car chase and a spectacular hang-glider assault on Wilton’s high-rise lair, plus an amazing stunt where Lazenby was set on fire. Depending on which source you read it was either Wang Yu or Grant Page who saved his life when the stunt went awry, and Lazenby may or may not have punched Trenchard-Smith. The stars re-teamed for another Golden Harvest movie, the ultra-rare British co-production, Queen’s High (1976) wherein Jimmy’s undercover cop foils George’s terrorist leader from kidnapping her majesty.
Chinese actor/director born Yu Wang, who has worked almost entirely in the martial arts genre. A former swimming champion, Yu became one of the biggest stars of 70s kung fu for his work in films such as the The Magnificent Trio, One Armed Swordsmen and Dragon Squad. Often directed himself in his films and produced the Jackie Chan-starrer Island on Fire.